The formal pattern of the château garden is designed to be seen from above.
Seen through the windows of the grand first floor rooms the lines of the garden are distorted by the imperfections of ancient glass.
Seen from the second floor roof terraces the lawns and borders stand out in crisp perfection against the surrounding gravel. The walkway which runs right around the building allows the grounds to be admired from every angle. The central axis of the garden extends across the outer moat, following a broad straight ride through the forest to the horizon.
In its early days the Château de Chambord was surrounded by marshes. The only garden was a small, enclosed area next to the chapel wing, probably a potager producing vegetables and herbs as well as flowers. In the seventeenth century the meandering river Cosson was canalised and wide moats were dug, enclosing formal terraces around the château.
It wasn’t until the mid eighteenth century that the remaining (mosquito infested) marshes were finally drained and extensive formal gardens were laid out on the newly leveled land. The design of grand gardens in the reign of Louis XIV was all about power, control and ostentatious display. It’s hardly surprising that after the Revolution the topiary was abandoned and fruit trees were planted in the ornamental borders. A major restoration has just been completed, aiming to restore the gardens to their pre-revolutionary glory. The precision of the work is very impressive but I’m with the revolutionaries on the fruit trees. Wouldn’t that make a wonderful formal orchard?
Click on any photo for a closer view.