Herculean, Pharaonic and other Garden Superlatives One of the Seven Wonders, for which the specific location has never been established, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are said to have contained a large variety of trees, shrubs and vines planted in tiers on raised terraces in an extraordinary feat of engineering. While visiting the Remarkable Gardens (see other garden studies with this label) of the Château du Champ de Bataille, I drew a parallel with these mythical gardens, beginning with the symbolic notion that they are said to embody: The Seven Degrees of Creation from the Mineral, Vegetal, and Animal to Humanity, Conscience, Light and Spirit, in that order. Jacques Garcia, renowned decorator, acquired the château in 1992. Working with landscape architect Patrick Pottier, they carried out the herculean task of conceiving and planting more than 240 acres of formal gardens consisting of groves, French parterres, boxwood topiary, basins, terraces, steps and fountains complimented by temples, theaters and sculptures. Hidden at the end of the garden is the “pièce de résistance” (flourish); a genuine 18th century Indian palace, reconstructed stone by stone, complete with an artificial lake: the Palace of Dreams. From the Material to the Immaterial, visitors pass from the … Read More
A Garden Party at Brécy Castle Patrimony Day in France happens once a year and enables curious visitors to see and experience treasures of French patrimony that are not typically open to the public. This year, I had the pleasure of experiencing several special places dressed for the occasion under beautiful blue sky of mid-September all in one weekend. The first and foremost is Brécy Castle Gardens, which I had already photographed in 2012 with a large format film camera. This year, a private invitation was launched to commemorate the fifth year of the passing of Barbara Wirth. Gardener extraordinaire, she and her husband Didier orchestrated the restoration of the gardens of Brécy from their purchase of the château in 1992. We learn, in reading the marvelous and freshly published Florilegium of Brécy Garden by Béatrice Saalburg and Catherine Watters, that the key to the elegance of this garden is a striking harmony of “just enough” in Barbara’s selection of plants. To complement graphically dominant yew, hornbeam and boxwood topiary, of which an intricate parterre de broderie on the ground level sets the stage for the terraces, Barbara added a savvy selection of roses, clematis, hellebore, lily and iris. She … Read More
A modern example of Organic Architecture by Taliesin West architect This modern residence and formal garden located in Western Oregon was designed and constructed by a graduate of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West. His interest in learning the principles of Organic Architecture, as Frank Lloyd Wright referred to his own work, is underlined by Wright’s words; “Learn the principles and do not copy me.” The principles of Organic Architecture encompass an overall design process where everything relates to one another both on the inside and the outside. The relationship of the building to its natural surroundings is as important as the details in its interior – from the windows, to the floors, to the furniture that fills the space. Organic Architecture covers the construction materials, motifs and design principles which work together as a unified whole to build a central mood and theme. The fundamental design of this architect’s home which includes broad cantilevers, horizontal lines and open interior space, all strong elements of Organic Architecture, give this private residence a ‘Wright look’. After twenty one years, this house still maintains that timeless quality that Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes are known for. A quote from … Read More
The Gordon House | Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian vision The Oregon Garden welcomed one of the last of the ‘Usonian’ home series designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1957 for Evelyn and Conrad Gordon, The Gordon House, which its 2001 owners wished to tear down. The building was dismantled and restored to its new environment in Silverton. Designed for the American working-class consumer, a Usonian home was a small, single-story house constructed with native materials. It had a flat roof and cantilevered overhangs for energy efficiency and clerestory windows to enhance the visual relationship between interior and exterior. A carport (word coined by Wright) served to shelter a parked vehicle. These homes, of which Wright designed about sixty, are considered to be an aesthetic precursor to ranch-style dwellings.