After visiting the Pope’s garden in Castel Gandolfo I seem to have a new view on the different styles of gardens that there are. The garden that we visited features three main styles throughout as well as an incorporated 25 hectares of farmland. The Villa Pontificia features English, French and Italian characteristics. The designs of these styles help to set the mood of the garden and guide your eye to either the main feature or through the picture that the plants are creating.
The entrance of the garden started as Italian, it was filled with strategically placed Italian cypress, stone pines, blue Atlas cedar, hydrangeas, ponds and fountains. The trees, hydrangeas, and the pathways accent the water features and help to tie everything together. In the Italian garden there are also ruins from Ancient Rome when the Emperor Domitian (81-96 A.D.) resided in this area. While these ruins are well preserved there is also an obvious acceptance of the natural plant life that grows amongst it. The tree roots that are emerging from the stones are allowed and accepted as part of the ruins; they are not cut away and hidden, instead it shows that what was once built by man is being overcome by nature.
In the English garden there was less structure. While the trees and the plant life that was growing looked to be a naturally wooded area it was planted with purpose. This part of the garden seemed to have brought me back to my roots; I understood how the Pope enjoyed this area. In my hometown I am comforted by the cedar and pecan trees that crowd my yard and the live oak that supports the tree swing my dad hung. This part of the garden reminded me of home because of the simplicity that it delivered.
The French garden was my favorite. The garden was covered with boxwood, hedges, cypress trees, wax begonias, and many other attention seeking shrubs and flowers. These plants are pruned and maintained in these extravagant and elegant patterns that seems so perfect that it must be attended to daily. This garden style is my favorite because of the extensive design and care that is required to create and maintain a garden of this magnitude. The shrubs must be in pristine condition in order to continue the flow and deliberation that is being portrayed in this form of artwork. The Pope’s garden demonstrates that even though this piece does not involve paper and paint or ink, that designing a garden is still a form of artwork.