“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece,” Claude Monet once observed. With his gardens at Giverny as his tableau, it’s hard to argue.
Monet’s gardens may be more exuberant than the formal gardens that we associate with Paris and other regions of France. Yet they all share fundamental characteristics – mainly a sense of harmony, unstudied elegance and a sort of geometric spaciousness suggested by the plantings themselves.
French garden design dates back centuries. Of course, the most famous is the Garden of Versailles, designed by André Le Nôtre. Three centuries later, the influence of Versailles is still powerfully felt. Even in the countryside, where gardeners tend vegetables, fruits and herbs, these kitchen gardens – jardins potagers – are marked by order and geometry.
Like Giverny and Versailles, many French gardens today are made quietly luminous by a sense of the unexpected. A clipped boxwood hedge is offset with soft, lush plantings and bold colors. Fountains, statuary and benches create intimate counterpoints to precision. Gravel paths meander. Sitting areas surprise with romance.
Harmony. Order. Grace. Geometry. The timeless elements of a Parisian garden are reflected in many of our favorite items and collections this spring.