French Landscape Design

French Landscape Design

French landscape design was said to have originated in 1662. It was during this time that King Louis XIV imprisoned the then superintendent of finances, Nicolas Fouquet, for embezzling royal funds. Fouquet’s ambition to build his own private and luxurious chateau at Vaux-le-Vicomte had led to his disgrace and allowed King Louis XIV to shift his attention to the Gardens of Versailles. It was here, and with the aid of Fouquet’s architect (Louis Le Vau), painter (Charles Le Brun) and landscape architect (Andre Le Notre), that the Gardens of Versailles would become one of the largest and most remarkable gardens in Europe.

André Le Nôtre: French Garden Design - Reds Landscaping and Design
André Le Nôtre: French Garden Design.

The Gardens of Versailles

The chateau’s expansion followed shortly after the gardens, with both having tours carefully managed. In bringing this space to life, existing bosquets and parterres were enhanced, and new ones were designed and built. The most significant and influential creations at this time were the Versailles Orangerie and Parterre. It was here that the architectural talent and creativity of Louis Le Vau’s design symbolised both the building itself and the parterre, becoming an irresistible attraction to visiting diplomats and foreign royalty, even to the liking of King William III.

Versailles Orangerie - Reds Landscaping and Design
In the winter, the Versailles Orangery houses orange trees from Portugal, Spain, and Italy. In the summer, the gardens are home to lemon, oleander, palm, and pomegranate trees, some of which are more than 200 years old.


The Versailles Orangerie was first completed in 1663, then in 1678, a ten-year growth plan was decided to create what has been described as Jules Hardouin-Mansart’s crowning achievement, replacing the Louis Le Vau design of 1663. The Orangerie doubled in size and was modelled on theories by master gardener and horticulturist Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie, whose writings discuss a detailed system for protecting exotic plants from the harsh cold without the use of any artificial heating.

Aerial snapshot of Versailles - Reds Landscaping and Design
Aerial snapshot of Versailles.

"Trees of Versailles"

As Louis XIV lived out his reign in Versailles, he became allergic to the perfumed flowers and developed a preference for the smell of citrus trees, his favourite being orange trees, which he had potted in silver tubs and placed around the palace. After the Fouquet incident, Louis had over 1,000 orange trees removed from Nicolas’s property and transferred to the Orangerie. By the 1790s, there were several thousand trees. During the winter, the trees were sheltered in a cathedral like space, and the gardeners would burn fires during the coldest months, which were cleverly designed to heat the housing of the trees.

French gardeners were able to keep the citrus trees blooming throughout the year, by withholding water, valuable nutrients and using pruning techniques. It wasn’t until a visit from John Locke, who described the peculiar appearance of the trees as having small heads and thick trunks, as a consequence of the planters’ not allowing correct rooting into the soil below. Gardener Valentin Lopin created an extremely useful device in 1689 to assist with the transportation of the larger citrus trees, which were originally shipped from Italy.


French Garden popularity

The Orangerie Parterre covers over three hectares and, during the reign of Louis XIV, was ornamented with several sculptures, which are now housed in the Musee du Louvre museum. It’s said that French landscape designs are seen as an extension of the existing architecture, creating a series of rooms within the garden by using compact hedges and bodies of water to execute the meticulous, elegant, and rich designs. Today, French gardens still have a strong influence and presence in our society, being one of the most popular and hard-to-perfect designs. The French landscape design also has a very strong popularity in Melbourne’s inner city and south eastern suburbs, such as Toorak, Malvern, and Armerdale, where you can find beautiful French provincial homes with classic gardens inspired by the Versailles orangerie.

The gardens at the Palace of Versailles in winter - Reds Landscaping and Design
The gardens at the Palace of Versailles in winter.


It is easy to be tempted into driving straight into a design for your landscape. It is advisable to take your time and plan your landscape design properly before you start. While at it, consider the plants that are likely to perform best in the climate of your area and the purpose of your landscape, among other things. For more inspiration on landscape design, please refer back to our blog, where you can find many more articles on the subject.


“Top 10 Astonishing Facts About Versailles Orangerie - Discover Walks Blog.” Discover Walks Blog, 23 Sept. 2022,

“Gardens of Versailles.” Wikipedia, 30 Apr. 2023,

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mediterranean garden ideas

Mediterranean Garden Design Ideas

The Mediterranean Garden Design is not just beautiful; it is often a very practical and low-maintenance garden solution for landscaping Melbourne gardens. Historically, Melbourne winters are cool but short in duration. The summers are hot and we have experienced more of the hotter, drier weather over the past few years. Clear skies and moderate to high winds are often experienced in Melbourne, especially in the beachside suburbs of Brighton and Elwood. The recent hot, dry summers are typical of the Mediterranean climate and are more often experienced in cities like Adelaide and Perth. What this means for landscaping Melbourne gardens is that we can learn the lessons from gardens developed for hot, dry summers over millennia.

What is a Mediterranean Garden?

From a purely garden design perspective, much of the essence of the Mediterranean garden lies in the choice of materials, textures, and colours. Garden features such as cobbled paving, tiles, stones, bricks, and especially terracotta, will enhance the Mediterranean feel. Neatly clipped hedges, gravel mulch, and soft colours contrasting with brightly coloured tiles are often features in the Mediterranean garden. For landscaping Melbourne gardens, consider mixing this with less formal, drought tolerant plants and plants that give off a pleasant aroma.


Mediterranean garden - Terracotta pot and lavender - Reds Landscaping and Design
Mediterranean garden - Terracotta pot and lavender. Great colours to have together.

Mediterranean Garden Ideas

Mediterranean garden design often features terracotta pots and lavender. The cool purple of the lavender and the warm earthy tones of the terracotta pots are close to complimentary colours. This means they look good together in garden design. The green foliage of the lavender works as an accent to the colour scheme.
The hot, dry summers of the Mediterranean create perfect conditions for outdoor eating. In these gardens, you will often find pergolas covered with scented climbing plants or grape vines.

What Plants are in a Mediterranean Garden?

Some plants to consider for growing over your pergola include wisteria, grape vines, climbing roses, jasmine, and the Chinese Trumpet vine (Campsis grandiflora).

For landscaping Melbourne, Mediterranean plants are generally a good choice, although some may not like heavy clay soil. Some varieties of lavender require well drained soil.

Garden plants for this garden style include Salvia leucantha, or Mexican Bush Sage, and Lavender (Lavendula). Trees include box hedges and Italian pencil pines. (Cupressus sempervirens), or Italian cypress.


Cupressus sempervirens or Italian cypress - Reds Landscaping and Design
Garden plants for this garden style include Salvia Leucantha or Mexican Bush Sage,  and Lavender (Lavendula). Trees include box hedges and Italian pencil pines. (Cupressus sempervirens) or Italian cypress.

Outdoor eating under a shady pergola - Reds Landscaping and Design
Outdoor eating under a shady pergola is a key feature of Mediterranean garden design. This is also ideal for Melbourne gardens.

Mediterranean Garden Design Australia

Within the broad garden design concept of Mediterranean gardens, there are many different individual garden styles available to the Melbourne gardener to choose from. These range from the very neat and formal style to the less formal, more drought tolerant, low maintenance gardens. This variety reflects the many influences of the Mediterranean garden culture, from the Ottomans, the Moors, the Greeks, and the Romans. Each of these cultures came up with different solutions for the Mediterranean garden based on their needs and desires. These design ideas were then brought back to Britain by landscape designers and architects on the Grand Tour. Modern landscape designers now put their own interpretation on these design solutions to produce a variety of very different design outcomes.


Rural house decorated with flowers in pots, Gourdon France - Reds Landscaping and Design
Rural house decorated with flowers in pots, Gourdon France


Mediterranean Style Garden - Chelsea Flower Show 2018 - Reds Landscaping and Design
A Mediterranean style like this can result in a low maintenance and drought tolerant garden ideal for landscaping Melbourne Gardens - Chelsea Flower Show 2018.


Giusti Garden in Verona, Italy - Reds Landscaping and Design
Lush garden with sculptures to admire and a peaceful place to stroll. A formal Mediterranean garden with neatly trimmed box hedges and Italian pencil pines. (Cupressus sempervirens) or Italian cypress - Giusti Garden in Verona, Italy.

Almudaina Palace in Palma de Majorca, Balearic Islands Spain - Reds Landscaping and Design
Gardens and water fountains near Almudaina Palace in Palma, Mallorca, Spain. Water features like this are often an important feature in Spanish Mediterranean gardens. Water fountains and gardens near Almudaina Palace in Palma de Majorca, Balearic Islands Spain.

Contact us

For help with the design and development of your landscaping ideas, contact one of our experienced landscape gardeners. We can help with small garden design all the way up to commercial landscape design.

Our specialties include fast growing screening plants, plant health and horticulture, garden lighting  and outdoor pool landscaping ideas.

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For more on Mediterranean Garden Design click on Nine ideas on how to get this Garden style

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