The Landscape Guide


When France joined the new movement, she began by restoring some of her historical gardens. M. Duchesne, father of the garden artist of our own days, spent his life in an intensive study of old gardens and especially parterres, with their marked style of severe formal lines and regular plantation. He supplemented his study by forming a fine collection of old pictures. In our history of French gardens we noticed that the centre of interest before the time of Le Nôtre was the parterre and its gradual development. But in the modern approach to the formal style there was fortunately never the slightest wish to restore the bosket as it was at the time of Le Nôtre. Here we see the true mark of the people’s garden, which is more noticeable in France than in England. It was recognised that parterres sans futaies (and without boskets), arranged with taste and in proper proportions, were exactly suitable for small estates. The disagreement in France was less vehement than in England, but there was a strong opposition to the jardin fleuriste, because the severe lines in such plots made the plants entirely subordinate to the design. This is shown in M. Duchesne’s restorations of old gardens, e.g. those at certain castles on the Loire, such as Laugais, the parterre of the castle of Condé-sur-Iton (Fig. 623) and a great many others. Chenonceaux (Fig. 624) was restored at this time. 

Illustrations on CD edition of Garden Visit and Travel Guide - see


Illustrations on CD edition of Garden Visit and Travel Guide - see


But in his own garden, planned by himself and his son, Duchesne served the interests of botany by laying more stress on the beauty of flowers, and by including plants that were not known in the days of his models, These served at the same time as “the frame and the picture.” Before all other considerations the gardens had to be brought into close connection with the house, far more than the parterre fleuriste had been. For the garden is not only an ornamental plot, as it used to be; but when it belongs to a small house, to a villa, it is a living-room in the open air.

Opposed to this scheme, which is very nearly that of the old formal parterre, is a different one, which is frankly an enemy to tradition. According to this, there will indeed be a garden near the house, but it must be an expression of the modern man and of modern art. It demands something personal, something intimate, quite other than the grandiose impersonal style of the eighteenth century. “Just as the modern alexandrine differs from that of the eighteenth century, so must our garden differ from the garden of Le Nôtre.” So says André Vera, the author of The New Garden, and he even goes so far as to urge that the garden should imitate a modern woman’s dress in its colour scheme. Gardening, like architecture, must show the sign of human thought. The fruit-garden, moreover, must be regarded as a real part of the whole, and as having the same claim as the other parts: the flower-garden or the rosary. Everything must form one whole, consistent with the particular house to which it belongs. But Vera stops when he comes to the park. “I have nothing to say against a landscape park,” he says at the beginning of his preface; “for that may be left to the landscape gardener, and it will form an easy transition to the open scenery of Nature.” We shall shortly see how the landscape gardener is threatened from another quarter, and is in danger of being driven out of the park as well.



Illustrations on CD edition of Garden Visit and Travel Guide - see Illustrations on CD edition of Garden Visit and Travel Guide - see
Monet's garden at Giverny has become famous, since Gothein's time, because it was made by the great Impressionist painter.  It is also interesting as an example of French taste in garden design at the end of the nineteenth century.