This morning I am frantically cramming for a midterm in one of my classes. In this particular class, we have been studying some of the greatest gardens in the world. Although taking tests is always a drag, it is a pretty good excuse to immerse myself in something I am completely obsessed with anyways: gardens. Most especially the history of kitchen gardens.

I wanted to share some information about one in particular that I think you might enjoy seeing: the gardens at the Château Villandry in France. The pictures are from my professor’s presentation which he took during his visits to the site. I have been to Europe often and therefore have other places on my list to visit next, but this may just move France back up a notch on that list.

Overall I get a little stressed out with these highly stylized and organized French gardens. They are so tightly constricted and I am such a loose gardener when it comes to solid lines and separations of space. They intend to dominate and control nature, and yet I do envy them somewhat for their ability to organize and showcase particular plant materials If we look past those obscenely manicured boxwood and roses, there is something pretty special to be seen in the Kitchen Garden (pictured in the lower central terrace).

Although the Kitchen Garden is still very tightly organized, I find this a really enjoyable and inspirational space. It is perhaps one of the largest examples of a formal French kitchen garden. I just got done doing a local study on front yard vegetable gardens and wish I had included some reference to this particular garden. This is a great example of how beautiful and interesting a staple like vegetables can be in any landscape. Pairing contrasting colors and textures can really make a functional space dually breath-taking.

As we plan for our Spring gardens, consider how you can make your little plot more productive but also a more enjoyable space to be in. The more time we spend in our gardens, as a social space or a place of refuge, the more productive they will often become. We may spend what we think of as leisure hours there, but we are also occassionally pulling a weed or noticing aphids or snipping off lettuce flowers.

Enjoy the plant porn!

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Written by Renee Wilkinson