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Devoted readers may have noticed that I haven’t written a garden post for a while. That’s, um, because my garden is kind of…well…flat. It got hit by triple punches in the form of a tornado, a giant hail storm, and now winter. All that’s left is to plant my bulbs, put my roses to bed, and sadly stare at the little yew bush in the corner until Spring comes again with its ancient magic.
During this cold dead season, gardeners fantasize about spectacular gardens they can never have or even see in person. I personally have been reflecting on parterre gardens and wanted to present a little gallery with pictures of great parterre gardens around the world. Parterre gardens are highly formal gardens which make use of gravel walkways, flat planted beds, and tightly clipped hedges and topiaries to create extremely precise geometric designs. They were created at the end of the16th century by Claude Mollet (ca. 1564 – shortly before 1649), the first gardener for three French kings. The Mollets were a dynasty of exalted gardeners who were much in demand by the French nobility. Claude’s father was chief gardener at the Château d’Anet where young Claude saw formal style Italian herb gardens being planted. He admired the geometric precision of these small geometric her beds or compartimens as they were known in France and wondered if they could be made larger. From this concept sprang a vast world of “embroideries (passements), moresques, arabesques, grotesques, guilloches, rosettes, sunbursts (gloires), escutcheons, coats-of-arms, monograms and emblems (devises)” to quote Jacques Boyceau, another luminary of the early parterre movement.
But enough words! Enjoy this tiny gallery of parterre gardens from around the world as you plan your spring gardens and get ready to pass the long winter.