The Romantic Ideal

Those who know me, know that I am not very…well not a girlie girl. They also know that my ultra-romantic and feminine side comes out in other ways. One of those is my love for bold, evocative statements in the garden. As a landscape designer whether I’m working on a contemporary or traditional design, the object is the same…extravagant gestures, layers of texture and dreamy places to slow down and enjoy it.

I think this is the most romantic image in a garden ever. Over exposed? Yes. But Fragonard’s ‘The Swing’, pictured below, is the essence of romantic ideal. The young woman is joyful at being in love and in the garden…she is participating in her environment rather than just giving it a look or a walk through.

Jean-Honore Fragonard ‘The Swing’

Has our concept of what is romantic in a garden changed since the 18th century? I don’t think so. We still want the same human experience as the girl on the swing. What has changed is the availability of skilled labor to maintain the estate sized model it is based on and the philosophy that all natural resources are inexhaustible.

The romantic ideal might seem old fashioned, but it’s a point of departure only limited by lack of imagination. There is the possibility of creating lush and jubilant outdoor spaces without being bound to a planting scheme or a single style. Romantic gardens beg human interaction–the discovery of a secret, a place for intimate conversation, or a solitary escape from the stresses of daily life. They are the sum of their parts…not just the framework for a floral display.

5 thoughts on “The Romantic Ideal

  1. I so enjoy your blog! Blogging is such a great venue because I am totally inspired by other designers' work. Love seeing how your mind works and what inspires you.

  2. Yes, I do think gardens are romantic + magical and also filled with "unseen beauty." It's that feeling of serenity we get from being a part of something . . .

  3. Chloe–Thank you so much for your comments and support. Happy what I write about can inspire you in some way…

  4. That Fragonard really does sum it all up. You're right, Romance can mean something that's overdone, over the top, or just something unexpected and magical.
    Someplace secret too: I have a little clearing in a swath of lilacs where I have a little bench that my nephew made me from re-claimed lumber. I love it already in natural wood, but I have a hankering to paint it deep blue – for that extra touch of romance.

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