10 basic components of a French garden
The formation of the unshakable canons of the French style took place even when the Sun King (Louis XIV) with his magnificent courtyard walked through the parks of Versailles. And although over the following centuries this area of landscape design managed to survive both ups and downs, divided into several separate areas and lost the championship to English garden art and modern styles, French gardens are still easily recognizable today. They have a special sophistication, an almost elusive harmony, which is born in contrast with the dominance of topiary art. Here, every flower turns into a real star, and the details always touch the hearts.
The French style is often called the model of European classics. After all, in the French style they think about anything, but not about the ease of care. Aesthetics and expressiveness - this is the main task. And such a feature of the French trend of landscape design can be traced even in its modern incarnation, although it is very difficult to call it a single French style: various trends and thematic directions, from Nordic and strict gardens to cheerful Provencal motifs, have their own characteristics.
Nevertheless, in the French style there are general canons and those elements by which you can easily determine the landmarks in the design of your own garden. As before, the French garden is a regular style that dates back to the Baroque and Renaissance. Symmetry in everything, straight paths, the pursuit of excellence - these are just the main principles of design.
1. The dominant role of green
Despite the fact that the French style is romantic, festive, solemnly sublime, bringing everything to the ideal, this is practically not displayed in the color palette. The main color of any French garden has been and remains green. Trimmed neat lawns and all varieties of topiary art create frames and backgrounds for playing with geometry and symmetry.
Green tunnels connecting the flower beds of lawns, framing trimmed curbs from boxwood, trimmed hedges of privet or yew along the perimeter of the plot, a facade or screens twined with green vines, numerous topiary trees - spheres, pyramids, etc. - should become dominant in the design of the garden.
When choosing woody ones, give preference to dark crowns rather than extravagant and bright colors - plants that can replace cypresses and palm trees if not in silhouette, then at least in color. Perfectly cope with the task, for example, a magnificent columnar juniper. You should not be afraid of monotony: the color in this style is used so precisely that it literally shines on a green background and transforms everything.
2. Silver leaf
Despite the absolute dominance of classic green, there is another color of green, without which you can’t recreate the French garden - silver. Ornamental-deciduous plants with the edge, giving them the effect of silver, in the French garden are equal in importance to flowering accents. In order for classic green to become noble and to reveal all its beauty (and just to prevent boredom and despondency in the perception of the garden), it is emphasized, supplemented and framed by magnificent live silver.
And here the choice for regions with by no means a French climate is as rich as ever: a delightful cleaner, sage, santolin and wormwood with their illusion of velvet or silver lace will recreate the color combination of the basis of the design of any French garden.
3. Patterned stalls
Perhaps the stalls are the most famous of the design methods in the French style. Symmetrical, formal, surrounded by low sheared borders and folding into a complex hermetic figure or pattern, flower beds filled with low flowers creating an ornament, trimmed green sculptures or decorative dusting - this is the visiting card of the French garden, which first comes to mind at any mention of the legendary Versailles or any other park ensembles.
But do not think that the stall is a palace luxury. You can recreate them on your site. Playing with borders and plants, and even replacing full-fledged figures from flower beds with patterns inside carpet mixborders, inspired by ornaments, carpet motifs and even embroidery, you can recreate an ornate French classic even in a small area.
4. Bet on a limited palette
If you want to design a garden in which you can guess the French flavor from the first glance, bet on two colors for flowering plants - violet-purple and yellow. The classic shades of lavender and sage should serve as your main inspiration, but in the case of the yellow gamut it is better to choose resembling santolina, sunny, bright shades that contrast so well with purple.
This does not mean that other colors will be inappropriate in the garden: red, pink, and white, as accents they will perfectly reveal the color concept and make it more expressive. Just make sure most of the plants are either purple or yellow.
5. Herbs and fragrant stars in the spotlight
Without which it is simply impossible to imagine a French garden, so without spicy aromatic plants. The huge lavender fields of Provence are a great source of inspiration for decorating the French garden. But you should not limit yourself to lavender only. Remember all the medicinal, aromatic and healing plants and herbs that are actively used in cosmetology, aromatherapy and perfumery. Sages, catnip, yarrow, wormwood, thyme, hyssop, oregano fill the garden not only with special textures and colors, but also with special aromas.
And most importantly - the best partners for blooming stars can not be found, as well as a more unpretentious and talented universal tool for playing with patterns and drawings. When choosing shrubs, also seek inspiration from the main garden “perfumers” - mock-ups and roses, frame citrus fruits, etc.
6. Plinths, floral and frame accents
Architectural elements, focal points in the French garden have always played a special role, creating a central point of attraction for the gaze, combining symmetrical flower beds, adding sophistication to large flower beds ... Do not forget about them when you look for means to emphasize paths, zoning, the purpose of individual sites, feel free to use the best of visual accents - flowerpots on the socles, stone flower pots, large tubs and pots with planted plants.
Particularly good in such containers are shorn wood and shrubs, but for southern exotics, flower arrangements, and summer people in the French garden there is a place. Such plants can emphasize symmetry (for example, "guards" on the sides of the path or at the stairs) or introduce rigor and geometry to where it is not.
7. Color - as an accent
The dominant green, complemented by silver-leaf plants, creates a truly fashionable backdrop in the French garden, on which even the most modest flowering crops look like expressive accents. Consider each flowering plant precisely as an accent, which is designed to shine against the background of the general landscape.
Do not be afraid to dilute the sheared fence with an unexpected ribbon flower garden of daylilies, add a “flower edge” between the trees or frame lawns with colorful borders from unpretentious flowering perennials. Even on flower beds, thanks to the choice of yellow-violet concept, each other color will be perceived as an expressive point. For example, a bush of white or pink roses on a textured background will be almost an alternative to a magnificent garden sculpture
8. Irises and once again irises
Iridaria - an analogue of the rosaries, only glorifying the beauty of irises - came to us from France. They are especially popular in the southern areas of the French style, but in any French garden, bearded irises are an integral and indispensable flower. Use them in borders, plant in spots on flower beds and in discounts, create large groups or equip a full-fledged iridary with a whole collection of species and varieties. In addition to bearded irises, experiment with less capricious species. These magnificent plants deserve a special place in the design - be inspired by the landscapes of Van Gogh and Monet and make irises the main star of a flower show in the first half of the season.
9. Forged items
Forging is considered an attribute of the Provencal style, but in any French trend, regardless of the thematic design, it will be appropriate. A twisted bench, an unusual wicket door, an intricately decorated table base, unusual curls on a lantern, a forged pot holder or a small fence at the flower garden - all these elements breathe romance, flirtation and luxury. The elaborate forged details perfectly accentuate the symmetry underlying French design. And you can use them almost unlimitedly.
10. Pergolas and balustrades
Classical architecture can find its new French embodiment in the pavilions and gazebos on the site. A modest colonnade or ornate air structure, traditional or bold forms should be emphasized and strengthened. Painting in white is especially good, but it is not always possible and required, and there are much simpler means.
They will turn a secluded vacation spot into something French, recreate the charm of the French style with the right landscaping strategies. A luxurious blooming liana, for example, a climbing rose, on the gazebo will immediately raise it to a new level of grace and fit into the overall stylistic concept.
If you like various garden imitations and trompe l'oeil, adore architectural techniques, put at least one false balustrade in the garden. She will be able to zone the space, frame the flower garden, create the illusion of continuing the path, play the role of a masking element. But whatever its role, the balustrade will immediately create the mood inherent in the palace parks.
If you want to create a truly French garden, hide in one of its corners a classic statue. Mythological characters, legendary Greek myths or classic Roman works of art - any traditional form is quite suitable.
Just do not rush to exhibit the sculpture in the most prominent place. Of course, it can always be placed both in the center of the ground floor ensemble and in the corners of the lawn, emphasizing palace motifs. But it’s better to “hide” it from a direct view, to set it surrounded by colorful flowering plants so that the view on the statues opens unexpectedly. In the French garden there is so much orderliness and symmetry, so the mysterious accent in flower beds and discounts will add to them soulfulness and emotionality.