Message - Re: Parks and Gardens

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Posted by  Paul Malo on March 06, 2002 at 12:00:24:

In Reply to:  Parks and Gardens posted by Verve on March 06, 2002 at 09:37:40:

It's telepathy. I was just thinking about introducing the subject when I opened your post!

We (at our school) place much emphasis on gardens--not because we are horticulturalists, but because we are concerned with urban design. Great gardens are arrangements of space, defined by natural forms. The ontly difference form urban design is the natural vs. built character of the means of definition--and indeed we stress that urban design shouldn't try to do everything with built form, but should recognize natural materials as components.

I'm a great fan of French gardens as well as British--they compliment each other as contrasting approaches. The French of course is related to the Italian--but the French were much more concerned with grand spaces, to the degree that they may be more "urban" in scale.

Regarding English work, I've traveled widely to visit examples and agree that Stowe is one of the landmark landscapes, but a bit sprawling and diffuse. It's primarily a "landscape" garden of a pictorial sort. This is, of course, one of the great English contributions to world art--some would say the greatest. Nevertheless there is quite another tradition--the more contained
sequences of "rooms" as developed from the cottage garden tradition. Sissinghurst is, of course, the world-famous example of this type, but Hidcote Manor is equally splendid and far less overrun with tourists.

This would be a very long post if it were to include all the major works worth seeing and studying. After Versailles (obviously) Vaux-le-Vicomte is the greatest of French gardens, in my estimation. Talk about "surreal" (as we did recently)!

I often refer students to Humphrey Repton's "red books" as references. Do you know these before-and-after studies of landscape design? Fascinating and very educational.

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