Parterre

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Kensington_Palace_from_the_south_by_Kip_(1724).jpg
Kensington Palace engraved by Jan Kip for Britannia Illustrata, 1707/8

A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing pattern. Parterres need not have any flowers at all. French parterres were elaborated out of 16th-century knot gardens, and reached a climax at the Chateau of Versailles and its many European imitators, such as Kensington Palace (illustration, right).

The word parterre comes from the French language where it is used in the same sense but also has several other meanings, for example, that part of the auditorium of a theatre which is occupied by the orchestra stalls.

At Kensington Palace, then a suburb of London, the planting of the parterres was by Henry Wise, whose nursery was nearby at Brompton. The up-to-date Baroque designs of each section are clipped scrolling designs, symmetrical around a center, in low hedging punctuated by trees formally clipped into cones; however, their traditional 17th century layout, a broad central gravel walk dividing paired plats, each subdivided in four, appears to have survived from the Palace's former (pre-1689) existence as Nottingham House. Subsidiary wings have subsidiary parterres, with no attempt at overall integration.

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