The Gardens of Versailles

 

Gardens have long been a source of pleasure, inspiration and peace for human kind. We have cultivated gardens for food, for medicine and for pleasure. We design the landscape in our homes for comfort, beauty and even produce. The art of landscape design seeks to seamlessly integrate function and beautiful form in the spaces we occupy.

A&R Evergreen

The Gardens of Versailles occupy an enormous 800 hectares.

Today we will look at the ultimate exponents of magnificence in landscape design. Few have heard of Andre Le Notre, a French landscape architect who was commissioned by Louis XIV, commonly known as the Sun King, to design the sumptuous gardens at Versailles.

Louis XIV became weary and suspicious of the political machinations of the French nobility soon after he came to reign and sought to distance him self from the hotbed of intrigue that was the Royal court at Louvre Palace. His father Louis XIII had purchased lands in Versailles and built a small villa there, some 20 kilometres from Paris in 1622.

Louis XIV came to power in his own name in 1661 as Regents had ruled until he came into his majority, during his first years made some sweeping changes, he uprooted the corruption that was bleeding the royal treasury dry and enforced some new taxes on salt and land that ensured the financial future of his extraordinary reign. Once this was achieved the self-styled Sun King embarked on his grandest project – The Palace and Gardens of Versailles.

The entire project would occupy at least 60 years of Louis 72 year reign and was vast in its dimensions.

The Gardens of Versailles occupy an enormous 800 hectares, there are around 200,000 trees growing in the gardens, and around 210,000 flowers are planted every year. There are fifty fountains that constitue the greatest features of the gardens they are fed by a vast network of 35 kilometres of piping that transports around 3,600 cubic metres of water for the Grandes Eaux, or great fountain show.

The motif of the entire garden is an exploration of the Sun with many statues of Apollo and sun themed gardens that flourish and flower in the warm August months of France. Oranges were considered a delicacy in renaissance Europe and Vasco de Gama introduced them to European plates from his voyages to the East. Oranges were associated with the sun and were highly desired by Louis ‘The Sun King’ for his guests. They were of such high value that there were diplomatic documents relating to how many slices of orange a visiting dignitary could expect to receive depending on their status and station in the court.

The gardens of Versailles

The gardens of Versailles

The gardens of Versailles were developed in stages and thousands of French troops were conscripted building, digging and clearing the land for the Grand Canal amongst other projects. The only thing that interrupted the work was the war of Spanish succession and that was late in Louis XIV’s reign and work was halted until after he passed in 1715.

The Gardens remain today as one of the finest examples of Landscape architecture the world has ever known.

For all your local landscaping needs in Brisbane please contact A & R Evergreen

Thankyou for reading this article.

Jamie Grant

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