The Garden Guide

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

St Cloud garden design

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214. The gardens of St. Cloud, also by Le Notre, are less celebrated than those of Versailles; but, from their natural advantages, they are, in the present age, considered more beautiful. At St. Cloud, nature and art are struggling for the mastery; whereas, at Versailles, art is every thing. For this reason the garden at Versailles is by far the more perfect production; that is, it more fully answers the end proposed by the artist. Speaking of the gardens of St. Cloud, with a view to the taste of his own time, an intelligent writer observes, �that they are beautifully situated, and by nature not less beautifully diversified; but nature is here every where subdued, and made subservient to art. Insipid and affected marble nymphs, and trimmed orange trees in tubs with corresponding regularity, conduct the eye to fountains which seldom flow, and, when they do, make art ridiculous, by showing how nature may be lost in childish puerilities. Here is a little channel about two feet wide, and a hundred and fifty feet long, with small pipes at given distances from each other, which spirt up water like so many syringes; and on each side a favourite gravel walk. The French are lively and gay, and fond of the country; but the country must be trimmed, and made fashionable, before it can be truly delightful.� (Duppa's Observations, &c., p. 14.) �The fountain at St. Cloud, which is called the Grand Jet, from its amazing elevation, is,� Batty observes, �from its delightfully retired situation, one of the most beautiful of the kind in Europe (fig. 45.). It is formed of a single jet, which shoots up from the centre of a quadrangular reservoir, to the height of one hundred feet. The best time for viewing this fountain is a little before sunset, when the glowing rays of the setting sun gleam through the spray of the fountain in its fall and give a sparkling lustre to the surrounding foliage. The gardens of St. Cloud abound in fountains; but this simple jet cannot fail to be preferred before all the fantastical designs of the grand cascade.� (Batty's French Scenery.)