Natural Style Gardens In Europe

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Natural Style Gardens In Europe
Natural Style Gardens In Europe

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English roots

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In search of the origins of this direction of design thought, our path lies in England, which has managed to creatively comprehend the Chinese understanding of gardening art as the art of "ennobled nature." The "father of new gardening" in Europe is considered William Kent, who in the 30s of the 18th century formulated and embodied the principles of the landscape style of garden art. The beautiful landscapes he created gave the impression of being natural: winding paths skirted gentle hills, paths twisted along the edges and lawns, streams and rivers flowed peacefully with bridges thrown over them. Kent was the first in Europe to create picturesque groups of trees in gardens and parks and emphasize the beauty of free-standing plants. It was then that European gardeners became interested in trees with a twisted trunk or bizarrely curved branches.They were distinguished by their unique individuality, in contrast to the “uniformly trimmed” trees of a regular garden. Kent's imitation of nature went so far as to incorporate dry trees into a living landscape in order to achieve a sense of authenticity.

However, for Kent and his many followers both in England and abroad, the "naturalness" of landscape paintings does not exclude elements of regularity (flower parterres and mixborders near the house, tree alleys, etc.). Landscape gardens in the English style necessarily include small architectural forms - gazebos, ruins, grottoes, as well as sculptural compositions on antique themes, each of which has been skillfully "inscribed" into the surrounding landscape. This is the same line of gardening art that we see in the gardens of China. But it is interesting that within the framework of the English landscape style, another line of garden art is developing, which is very close to the modern understanding of the eco-garden. This line is associated with the name of the famous garden master L. Brown (1716-1783),amazed his contemporaries with the ability to see and emphasize the beauty of the natural landscape. In addition, Brown became famous for the fact that he fundamentally denied all architectural garden forms. He loved it when the house was located on a lawn open to the sun, surrounded by freely growing groups of trees. This revolutionary approach essentially meant a break with the centuries-old tradition of garden art, focused on creating artificial landscapes, be it in a formal or natural style. Brown's ideas opened the way to a different understanding of the task of gardening art: it had to organically fit the buildings into the existing landscape environment, emphasizing the natural beauty of the place. Unfortunately, this approach did not always work, as it assumed the presence of these very natural beauties. This is probably why Brown's ideas did not find so many followers.Nevertheless, it is interesting to trace what kind of response they had in Russia. Although it is possible in this case we are talking only about the consonance of ideas, and not about direct borrowing.

Russian followers

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Russian writer N.M. Karamzin, who, perhaps, was generally unfamiliar with the ideas of the English gardener, urges to admire the natural, and not artificially created beauty of nature. Not only regular French gardens, but also English landscape ones seem unnatural to him: “I see a garden, alleys, flower beds - I walk past them - the aspen grove is more attractive to me. In the countryside, all art is disgusting. Meadows, forests, river, gully, hill better than French and English gardens(emphasis mine - A.G.) All these small paths, strewn with sand, lined with birches and sticky, produce in me some kind of disgusting feeling. Where labor and work are visible, there is no pleasure for me. The tree is transplanted, pruned, like a slave with a golden chain … I compare him with a person who laughs without joy, cries without sadness, caresses without love "(I quote from A.P. Vergunov and V.A. Gorokhov" Vertograd "M, 1996)

Andrey Timofeevich Bolotov
Andrey Timofeevich Bolotov

A definite response to the idea of ​​a "natural" garden is found in the practice of the outstanding Russian agronomist and gardening master Andrei Timofeevich Bolotov (1738-1833). The choice of a beautiful place for the future garden, according to Bolotov, largely predetermines the success of the whole undertaking. “Such an important rule should be revered that always choose places for gardens of this kind, it is possible, coliko, uneven and not only not to run away from hollows and hillocks and the most ravines and peaks, but to consider these to be the most important foundation of these, and when the gardens are located to to get attached to him the most."

In addition to the unevenness of the relief, the water space is of great importance: "It is more profitable for these gardens to be tied to ready-made ponds, streams and rivers." According to Bolotov, such a location of the garden can be considered ideal when a lake or a system of ponds becomes the center of its planning structure. In extreme cases, it is desirable to have water spaces (river, lake) on the border of the territory intended for laying a garden.

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When laying out gardens, Bolotov willingly uses trees and shrubs of central Russia. He is attracted by their discreet beauty, the ability to become a harmonious part of the landscape. Birches, willows, alder, conifers are good both on their own and in combination with each other. In addition, gardens and parks made from native tree species are more resilient to the vagaries of our climate and require less planting costs.

Since the landowners' estates in Russia, as a rule, occupied a large area, and labor was always lacking, Bolotov deliberately expanded the boundaries of the garden at the expense of adjacent woodlands, in which glades were cut for walks. During his time, the appearance of a classic Russian manor park was formed, which included a regular part next to the house with a geometrically correct pattern of paths, flower beds, sheared shrubs, trees in tubs and other garden ideas in the French spirit, a landscape park "in the English taste" and slightly ennobled natural and rural landscapes - landscaped forests, arable lands, pastures, meadows with churches and mills on the hills.

In the first half of the 19th century, in accordance with the new trends, the tendency of "naturalization of parks" intensifies: the accents are shifted from the regular part of the park to the landscape one, straight alleys remain, but a clear preference is given to natural picturesqueness, planning solutions are becoming more free and asymmetrical, and the ponds are finally transformed to the compositional center of the entire park ensemble.

Modern tendencies

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The 20th century interrupted the natural line of development of domestic gardening and we can only guess in which direction landscape parks in Russia would develop after the revolution. The idea of ​​an ecological garden in our country stalled for a long time, but abroad it found many fans. One of them is the English master of landscape design John Brooks, who created the famous garden in Denmans (West Sussex, England). According to Brooks, when choosing plants for a garden, one should focus on the surrounding landscape, as well as the climatic and soil conditions of the area. John Brooks allows some plants in his garden unthinkable liberties from the point of view of a respectable English gardener. So, Missouri evening primrose, oriental poppy, common mullein, erythematosus, cuff spread by self-seeding.For this, a gravel border is arranged along the decorative groups of trees and shrubs, inside which flowers are allowed to grow by self-sowing.

Plants in Denmans' garden are planted in dense clusters to inhibit weed growth and moisture evaporation. At the same time, the selection of plants itself is carefully thought out: we see a variety of decorative forms - spherical, columnar, weeping, decorative leafy. For some shrubs, trimming gives the desired shape. Mr. Brooks does not deny himself the pleasure of planting some exotic plants for England in his garden. Moreover, he plants them with local species so that the plants look the most natural. At the same time, exotic plants can usually be found in the central part of the garden, while plants of the local flora prevail on the periphery. Thus, according to Brooks, the harmony of the garden with the surrounding area is achieved.

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An interesting lawn mowing technique can also be seen in Denmans' garden. They cut their hair at different heights. Small-bulbous plants are planted in the area of ​​tall grass, which in the spring enliven the green carpet of grass with their flowering, in summer daisies and toadflax bloom here.

In general, John Brooks' garden can be called ecological only with a stretch. The famous English designer makes extensive use of the local flora mainly to facilitate the maintenance of the garden, and not to emphasize its beauty and originality. A large number of exotics and all kinds of decorative forms, lawns cut at different heights, "gravel streams" and other design solutions of John Brooks bring him closer to the supporters of traditional landscape design. However, in this case we are talking about garden design with an ecological touch. An ecological garden in the full sense of the word provides for the use mainly of plants of the local flora or those that come from areas with a similar climate. It is unlikely that exotic plants will naturally look surrounded by local plants,besides, they require special attention and are not always stable in our conditions. For the same reason, you should not get carried away with the decorative forms of trees and shrubs. As a rule, they are less resistant to diseases, pests and the vagaries of the weather than "outbred" plants. Although, I must admit, a small number of decorative forms of local trees and shrubs are able to give the garden originality, becoming its "highlight".

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