Formal gardens, also known as classical gardens, are a style of gardening that emerged in France in the 16th century. This form of gardening is characterized by symmetrical paths, ponds, statues and fountains, as well as precisely trimmed flower beds. The main purpose of these gardens was to reflect the beauty of nature, while domesticating it and putting it in order.
French gardens were very popular during the reigns of Louis XIII and Louis XIV. The famous gardener André Le Nôtre, who designed the Tuileries Garden and the garden of the Palace of Versailles, is considered one of the main architects of this form of gardening. The garden of Versailles is considered the best known example of a French garden, its design has become emblematic of this style, and is today considered one of the most beautiful gardens in the world.
Over the centuries, formal gardens have continued to evolve and adapt to contemporary trends. Today, they are still very much appreciated for their aesthetics, their authenticity and their natural heritage. The gardens of Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, the Jardin de Bagatelle are examples of formal gardens that continue to be appreciated for their high botanical quality and aesthetics.
Formal gardens are often considered masterpieces of the art of ornamentation and geometry, showcasing repetitive patterns and elaborate perspectives. Conversely, English gardens favor wild nature and natural aesthetics, highlighting spontaneous flowers and shrubs. French gardens are often considered more formal and strict, while English gardens are considered more informal and free. Although these two garden styles have their own unique characteristics, they have both contributed to the evolution of garden art and the preservation of natural heritage.