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Global Green Thumb: English, French, and Japanese Gardens

Most gardeners will tell you that landscaping—not cleanliness—is next to godliness, especially when it requires precise thought and skill. From Versailles to Kyoto's Saihoji Temple, the art of gardening is a universal language.
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  • Photo: UGArdener on Flickr

    Sissinghurst Castle, Kent, England

    English gardens are presented as an idealized view of nature, inspired by landscape paintings. 

  • Photo: audrey ahern on Flickr

    Christchurch, Oxford, England

    Landscape artists seek to create an idyllic pastoral scene, complete with rolling hills and picturesque architecture, like Gothic ruins or bridges. 

  • Photo: deejayhart | Daniel Hart on Flickr

    Beckley Park, Oxfordshire, England

    Whimsical mazes, like these topiaries, surged in popularity towards the mid-nineteenth century. They often served as illicit meeting places for lovers—hence their ubiquity.


     

  • Photo: Four Seasons Gardens on Flickr

    West Midlands, England

    Private gardens had a huge influence on how public parks were created in the early-nineteenth century; we can see this influence in any of London’s major parks as well as New York’s Central Park.


     

  • Photo: Richard Parmiter on Flickr

    Chateau de Villandry, Loire Valley, France

    French gardens, or les jardins francais, are based on symmetry and imposing manmade order over nature, trimming vegetation into complex shapes


     

  • Photo: Rozanne on Flickr

    Chateau d’Angers, Loire Valley, France

    These jardins often run on geometric planes, using east-west or north-south axes to offer an artistic perspective to the viewer.


     

  • Photo: carlos_seo on Flickr

    Chateau d’Versailles, Versailles, France

    Perhaps the most famous of all French gardens, the Palace at Versailles boasts elaborate fountains, mazes, and lakes. Louis XIV (the Sun King) used the 800 hectares to symbolize his absolute power over France and even nature itself.


     

  • Photo: lao_ren100 (Loren) on Flickr

    Korin-in Garden, Kyoto, Japan

    Unlike the rambling beauty of the English garden or the baroque form of the French garden, Japanese gardens are about harmony with nature, working with (not against) the natural surroundings.


     

  • Photo: Muchan5 on Flickr

    Tenryu-ji Garden, Kyoto, Japan

    Water sources must appear to be part of the environment, creating a serene and meditative space for the viewer.


     

  • Photo: k.sundstrom on Flickr

    Saiho-ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan

    Like ritualistic tea ceremonies, the art of Japanese gardening is shrouded in secrecy, passed down through the generations from sensei to apprentice.


     

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