English gardens

What are English gardens

Born during the eighteenth century, English gardens are not based on the use of geometric elements for the definition and constitution of space, but on the juxtaposition of streams, caves, pagodas, ponds, artificial and natural elements whose purpose is to give life to a space that looks natural. In short, a luxuriant nature, which, although it may seem wild, is certainly never uncultivated. Born inspired by the concept that the Enlightenment had of nature, conceived as a reality capable of manifesting emotions without the addition of rigid geometric figures (as happens, instead, in Italian gardens), the English gardens find their strength in naturalness. In short, the plants are not arranged on the basis of rigid screens, as shown by the garden of Ninfa.

The English gardens: history

In essence, English gardens reflect a completely new way of looking at nature. The merit is of the new conception of the relationship between nature and man which developed in Europe starting from the XVIII century, on the basis of the so-called Sensitivity that spreads in the Italian and French aristocracy: in practice, an enchanting force characterizes nature, which it must be left unchanged in its show without circumscribing it in spaces or enclosing it within geometric patterns. This interpretation therefore finds application in the creation of so-called English gardens, which over the years are increasingly appreciated also in the rest of Europe. Merit, among other things, of the bourgeoisie, which, being the bearer of a new way of approaching the beauty of nature, does not disdain to finance the design of these natural realities. Large wild but regular parterres, not fallow, are characterized by elegance and mastery, often embellished with rare plants and trees. Unexpected scenes including hedges, islets, ponds, hills, spontaneous trees, clearings, are enriched with sculptures and architectural elements, especially gothic. Each path is designed for emotion, the suggestion created by that territory not invaded by man is enormous. Nature, in short, presents an irregular regularity, which gives life to pleasant and melancholy emotions at the same time, according to the spirit of the time. Among the most important designers of this natural magnificence are Lancelot Brown, father of the parks of Painshill and Stourhead, William Kent, who takes care of the gardens of Stowe and Chiswick House) and Humphrey Repton, who instead signs the Red Books, namely the booklets in which he explains to the clients the different phases that contribute to transforming the beauty of the gardens. In Italy, the Treves de Bonfili garden, the English Garden of Palermo and the Garden of the Royal Palace of Caserta, whose father is John Andrea Graefer, are also noteworthy, and also have a cascade of enormous dimensions with respect to which it develops orthogonally .

A careful study of the components

In spite of the wild appearance, in short, all the components respect a careful study: the act of planting, for example, is carried out taking into account the needs of sun exposure. The natural landscape is also created thanks to elements such as ponds or waterfalls: the feeling of magic that one breathes in is also given by the opposition to rigid patterns. But, in practice, how are English gardens created? Given that an excessive presence of artificial elements would have the effect of diverting attention from natural beauty, important natural factors such as climate, sunlight and shading areas must be taken into account.

English Gardens: How to make them

We must start, of course, trying to enhance the natural elements that are already present: bushes and trees, but also rocks and stones. Bushes that are too thick, or that seem uncultivated, must be reduced by removing excess branches. The same is true for trees, which should be cleaned up taking care not to make them too bare. To better enhance them, a lighthouse could be placed at the base of the trunk, so that the shape of the tree is reflected by the light, with spectacular results. In the presence of a small lake, it is possible to add stones all around: and if the pond is not present, it can always be made from scratch. Such as? The excavation is not excessively large in the ground: a plastic sheet is placed on the bottom and it is blocked with some stones. At this point, just fill the hole with water, and the pond is ready. The English gardens, of course, must also have a well-kept lawn: after removing the weeds, they are fertilized, using a granular fertilizer with a high phosphorus content if possible. The sowing should be done in spring and in the first days of autumn, when the sun is not very hot but the temperature is still mild, but above all the constant humidity facilitates the germination of the seed. Sowing (it is advisable to use clover or other common grass) can be done using a spreader - found in any gardening store) or by hand. To put it into practice is very simple: all you have to do is sow the entire surface, distributing first in one direction and then in the other, making the seed stick to the roller in order to compact the soil and water it with a little water.