Stowe Garden, quintessential english
by Camilla - foodaroundblog
Four steps in the green of Stowe Garden, where was born the English garden.
In the heart of Buckinghamshire, just a few miles from the famous Silverstone circuit, there is Stowe Landscape Garden, the first English landscape garden designed in the first half of the eighteenth century by Bridgemant C. and W. Kent, the latter formed in Italy between Rome and the Palladian Vicenza.
“All gardening is landscape painting,” says A. Pope famous English poet of the time, saying that the gardener is basically like a painter who distributes natural and artificial elements composing the landscape as a canvas.
Walking along the streets of this immense property (approximately 38,000 acres, cared for and protected by the National Trust) lights up the excitement of being inside one of those ‘700 paintings with pastoral atmospheres.
The garden is precisely this: not geometry and symmetry typical of the Italian garden, but harmonious composition of natural and artificial elements in a continuous game of perspectives, lights, shadows.
And where are the flowers? One has to wonder, considering that today the art of the garden is mainly related to the cultivation of flowers of different species. The gardens of the eighteenth century, of which Stowe is the finest and most spectacular example, relate primarily to the shades of green and, then, lawns, bushes, forests and vineyards.
The distribution of the trees, even where it seems random, it is not at all: belts, dense forests or arboreal elements apparently scattered and strewn with randomness are all the result of a precise design and an aesthetic project. We are in the midst of Romanticism and the garden is the place par excellence where the emotions and the sense of surprise are solicited: where there seems to be a wild area, here you’ll find a hidden temple; over a slope that suggests an open space, there is a stream of water that goes into a wooded corner where there is a little Grotto with shells encrusted walls (and I can not avoid to think of the secret garden of Palazzo Te in Mantua, also revisiting a classical theme).
In fact, the artificial elements reproduce the styles of the Arcadian landscape: the Temple of Venus, the Round, the River Styx and the Champs Elysees, the Valley and the Greek Temple of Concord that predominates it. And again: the Temple of Ancient Virtue stand as counterpoise to the exedra with the Virtues British, with the busts of the leading men of the time (as if it says “in Great Britain we are not to be outdone”).
In the area called Path of Liberty, there is the Chinese House: the fashion of the time in fact was already looking to the art of Chinese garden as aesthetic reference in which the contrast of opposites is balanced with absolute grace.
And a Gothic Temple, also built with the purpose to impress the visitor with an unexpected style, but in particular to celebrate the Anglo-Saxon pedigree of the family Temple, owner of the estate Stowe: luckily I’m not a Roman says a phrase on the ceiling. The Gothic Temple is now converted into a cottage rented for holidays.
And the sheep? They also accompany the pleasant walk, but beware, not even their presence is random: it helps the eye to catch the games of perspectives and the distances.
The fall colors are still sketchy, and only a few light golden brushstroke anticipates the new season.
It takes at least a couple of hours to enjoy the whole estate: the spaces are really extensive. Unless we learn from the British art of the picnic and spend some more time at the leisure to lie on these lawns.. hopefully listening to the Symphony no. 6 cd of Beethoven’s, The Pastoral, which seems to be composed right in front of the splendour of Stowe.