Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fate of the Flora

I recently read a very interesting account of the Versailles gardens, and it prompts me to look in to those gardens during the 18th Century.

Of course, the land at Versailles as a long history. They cover nearly 2,000 acres, but during the time of Louis XIV, a goodly portion was transformed into formal gardens in the French style, which was perfected by Andre Le Notre, who became the King's landscape artist, planning special areas to suit the King's taste with bosquets of various themes. Bosquets, from the Italian word "bosco" or grove, are formal plantations of trees with walkways or paths of gravel or stone.

Upon the King's death in 1715, the palace and gardens entered into a time of uncertainty, and by 1722, the new Louis, the XV, reeled in the funds for non-essential things, including the gardens. The only significant addition to the Gardens was the Bassin de Neptune, built from 1738-1741. Louis VX was an avid botanist, and devoted most of his attention to an botanical garden on site. Botanical gardens generally have scientific, educational or ornamental purpose. But the King fell ill with small pox and died in 1774, and along with this death came the death of the formal garden in preference of a more natural, rambling landscape that the English garden offers.

But owing to the topography of the land, the attempts to convert Le Notre's work to an English garden failed. Louis XVI ordered palisades, the labor-intensive clipping of hedges that formed walls in the bosquets, to be replaced with lime and chestnut trees. He also had therotte des Bains d'Appolon built, a rockwork in the English style, designed by his landscaper, Hubert Robert.

In 1792 by order of the National Convention, a political assembly formed during the French Revolution, some of the trees at Versailles were felled, while some parts of the Grand Parc were parceled off and dispersed. Louis Claude Marie Richard, director of the botanical gardens, lobbied to save Versailles. He succeeded in preventing further dispersing, suggesting to use the gardens to grow vegetables and fruits for "the people". The gardens became open to the public, with people seen doing their laundry in the fountains! For shame, but as they say, c'est la vie!

1 comment:




    The portugee economy is in the toilet, and droves of it's citizens are fleeing to neighboring Spain to work just to put food on the table! Those who don't go to Spain are swimming, or jumping on bannana boats to go to Angola or Mozambique just to sell their body for cod to feed their families. The slightly better off portugee are flying to Brasil to live in a favela that is much better than the poor, decrepid conditions they live in now; at least here they can eat.

    The portugee are an ignorant bunch stuck in a mental time-warp that only focus on a national soccer team that has never won a single Euro or World Cup and "how" good things were in the distant past rather than focusing on their now deteriorated, non-existant economy, and how bad things really are today.

    This is "why" they can't seem to see the log stuck in their eyes but see the splinters in everybody elses eyes. I do find it ironic that they are racist toward Spain, Angola, Mozambique and Brazil only to later go look for a better life in these countries!!