The history of gardens and varied landscape designs forced on nature by man's creative hand is long and impressive. Among the enduring, famous landscape designs are many that still serve as inspiration for new garden designs. They showcase plants and other park-like features as well as demonstrate styles and issues that were influential at the time of their development.
The Persian ideals of gardening, creating a "paradise" courtyard with plants protected from the harsh desert outside the walls, were carried on by the Moors in the seventh and eighth centuries. When the Muslims conquered Spain, they brought these Middle Eastern gardening ideals to the castle known as the Alhambra, located in Granada in the southern Andalusian region. Even more ornate gardens are located in the Generalife, or sultan's garden, in the Alhambra. Walls enclose the gardens, which are divided into four quadrants surrounding a linear water feature axis.
Brazil's most famous landscape architect, Roberto Burle Marx, created a tropical garden replete with geometric garden beds and contrasting foliage and flower colors at Ibirapuera Park. Colorful paving, fountains and juxtaposition of native and exotic plants are harbingers of the modernist designs of Burle Marx. Located in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ibirapuera Park is often called "Brazil's answer to New York City's Central Park," as suggested in "Roberto Burle Marx: Landscapes Reflected." His designs are a demonstration of the most artistic landscapes born in the 20th century.
Avenidas Manuel da Nobrega
Sao Paulo, Brazil
There's no better place to witness the formal landscape style embodied in the French landscape than at Versailles, the royal chateau of the kings of France. In the late 17th century, the topographically flat grounds were planted with formal geometric beds on rigid axes. A key feature to the French landscape design is the viewing of the formal gardens from above, as seen from the steps, terraces and windows from the royal residence. This estate also features an orangerie, a botanical glasshouse for the display of orange trees and other tropical plants.
Chateau de Versailles
78008 Versailles, France
Although the immense glasshouse structure of the Crystal Palace was destroyed completely by fire in 1936, this building and interior landscape design set the precedent and technological basis for modern-day botanical conservatories and other large-building atriums. Built in England's Victorian era for the the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, the structure allowed for interior display of art and statuary in a park-like setting, complete with irrigation and natural light through glass panels. According to Victorian Station Online, historians are working to accurately reconstruct aspects of the Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace Park and Museum
London SE19 2BA United Kingdom
A large park of nearly 850 acres, Central Park is the green jewel of the city center of Manhattan Island in New York City. The plan of famed American landscape designer Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux followed the English country landscape style; its purpose was to supply city dwellers with a place to relax and meditate. According to the website View on Cities, Olmsted saw Central Park as a "social experiment where people from both upper and lower classes would meet, a rather revolutionary idea at that time." Today Central Park is seen as a model for modern city park design and use. It includes hills, lakes, gardens, lawns, a zoo, conservatory and modern playing fields.
MIdtown Manhattan between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West
New York, NY