Traditional Flowers for French Gardens

In the world of flower gardens, traditional French gardens are among the most formal. The most famous French gardens surround the palace of Versailles. Designed in the 17th century by André Le Nôtre, the Versailles gardens feature level terrain planted in intricate geometric patterns, all of it meticulously trimmed and maintained.

Straight gravel paths, low, reflective pools and extravagant statuary are all traditional features in the formal French garden. If you don't happen to have hundreds of acres to replicate the palatial gardens of France, you can achieve the same look with attention to detail and a plant list designed to copy the famous look and feel.

French Flower Gardens Start With Structure
The precise, geometric layout of a French flower garden is based on a solid backbone of plants that provide mass, yet are easily shaped. Hedges are often used to define the borders of the French garden. These hedges can be created from a number of different pants, including:

  • Boxwood. A classic hedge bush, boxwoods respond well to trimming, and their small, dense leaves create a perfect backdrop for other plants.
  • Lavender. A thick, woody herb, lavender is an excellent specimen for mass plantings. The fragrant blooms are long lasting and add a nice splash of color to the border.
  • Rosemary. This fast growing, fragrant herb has insignificant blooms, but grows fast and can be easily shaped.

Using Flowers To Add Color
With dense hedge borders and tightly mown lawns, the French garden looks to flowering plants to provide color. As a formal garden, French flower garden design favors pastels in neutral to warm colors. Look for plants with a long blooming period. Consider boosting the color in your design with annuals. Although you'll replace them every year, try to keep the same spacing and configuration to maintain your formal look.

A Formal and Functional Garden
As herbs take trimming and shaping well, they are often a standout feature in French gardens. Carefully manicured and geometrically spaced, herb plantings can give you a formal look while providing tasty treats for your kitchen. Consider sage, marjoram, thyme and sweet bay, planted in a radial or checkerboard pattern.

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