The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

History of French Garden Design

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1. French Gardening, as an Art of Design and Taste 207.Some remains of Roman villas still exist in France. �The valley of the Rhone was, at an early period of the empire, a favourite retreat of the Roman nobility; as much for the fine climate, unalloyed by malaria, as for its distance from the suspicion and wanton cruelty of the many tyrants, successors of Augustus. Nowhere else out of Italy have such splendid remains of villas been discovered as in the Provincia Narbonensis.� A writer referred to by G. L. Meason has left �a description of the country life of the Roman or Gallic nobility in the neighbourhood of Nismes. The mornings were spent in the tennis court, or in a library furnished with Latin authors; the profane for the men, the religious for the ladies. Between dinner and supper they slept, took the air on horseback, and used the warm bath. It was only in the reign of Louis XIV. that royal palaces and pleasure-houses in the country were erected free from towers, donjons, and drawbridges. Terraces and parterres, pleasure-grounds and parks, succeeded, which were enclosed with low walls, and entered by gates of open ironwork, indicating rather the boundary than the defence of the property.� (Land Arch. of Italy, 1830.)