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Home > Worldwide Gardening > French Gardens > 17th Century French Gardens
17th Century French Gardens
In the 17th century French gardens were constructed in a style that emphasized the control and manipulation of nature. Garden architects attempted to create large gardens with many sections, that overall possessed a geometrical design.

The control of nature was apparent in three very popular aspects of French gardens: aviaries, menageries and fountains. The inclusion of these aspects in private gardens was a statement of wealth, as well as an easy was to entertain guests. In the garden of Tuileries, Marie de Medici kept an aviary near the amphitheater. Here the bird`s cages were covered with branches so that visitors could be entertained by the bird concert while enjoying the illusion of being in a wild forest. Since zoos were not yet a formal institution in 17th century France, many menageries contained wild and exotic animals. In the 17th century Versailles contained a menagerie so large that it included apartments and a salon in the middle where nobles could enjoy the solitude of the countryside. Another very important aspect of French gardens was water. The theory of the French garden was the formal subordination of nature to reason and order with a simultaneous romantic awareness of nature`s freedom. Water was the perfect metaphor for this practice. Architects could alter the flow of water and could manipulate it in the form of fountains and pools, however, water always maintained a certain level of freedom with the light and images it reflected. These reflections also played into the idea of French gardens as a step out of reality and into an almost dream-like atmosphere. Water was also important because it was another display of wealth, as pumping devices and construction of fountains were costly endeavors. In August of 1668 the Grand Fete was presented over a number of days in the garden of Versailles. Daily water displays consumed more water per day than the pumps of Samaritaine delivered to the entire population of Paris, approximately 600,000 people.

However, in the next century, the style of French gardens began to change towards a freer, more natural view.
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17th Century French .. 18th Century French .. 19th Century Gardens
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