Garden Making Beyond Britain

The Australian Landscape Conference of September 2013 brought to Melbourne eminent designers Aniket Bhagwat (India), Juan Grimm (Chile), Raymond Jungles (Florida and in Brazil, a former protégé of Roberto Burle Marx) and Ken Smith (mainly New York), along with historians such as Japanese scholar Toshio Watanabe and myself, from Mediterranean Europe. In spite of varied origins, training and life experience, we speakers found we shared assumptions about gardens and landscape unlike those commonly found in British garden practice and writing, assumptions that have evolved outside or beyond the English gardening heritage. We found them also embodied in the wonderful Botanical gardens at Cranbourne, world class, yet thoroughly Australian. Here is a nutshell summary, frustrating in its oversimplification. And of course some contemporary British designers share this approach also—notably Dan Pearson?

MUCEM Gardens in Marseille

Marseille boasts a wonderful new museum, the MUCEM, dedicated to Mediterranean cultures, a modern structure beautifully wrapped around an old citadel. No one celebrates the gardens--planned and planted by stars Olivier Fililppi and Véronique Mure (nurseryman and botanist, both authors).

Versailles and the Villa d'Este

Serendipity, my guide in many things, took me in May to the Villa d’Este near Rome and just a few weeks later, to Versailles near Paris. Both palaces and their parks have been extremely influential in the history of European garden design. The first (sixteenth century) epitomizes the Roman Renaissance, the second (seventeenth century) imposed the kind of French classicism still called (erroneously) the “jardin à la française”.