Your Ibiza gardenSome garden ideas suited to the Balearic climate
Want to skip the history of gardens and dive right into comtemporary garden ideas? We've created a brief summary of some of the most common gardens below.
Invented in the deserts of North America, it is aimed at creating low-maintenance, sustainable gardens and green areas with very low water requirements. The design focuses on aestetic and volumetric studies, with wide mineral use and capable of producing great visual effect. The complex climate and limited fresh water resources on the Balearic Islands should push more landscape designers to work this way.
With the olive tree as its most emblematic plant, Mediterranean gardens are common across regions with mild winters and hot summers. They are truly determined by climactic zones and feature a wild botanical variety. Beyond the Mediterranean Basin, they are found in South Africa, central Chile, California and South and Western Australia.
The exotic Mediterranean garden generally refers to cactus gardens imported from the New World. These "xerophyte plants" store water for dry periods and are also ideal plants to design a xeriscape garden, highly resistant to nature's elements. Designing a cactus garden can be a challenge but if done properly, the result is always spectacular.
Palm gardens abound on the shores of the Mediterranean yet are truly only native to the Canary Islands, Egypt and Northern Africa. Napoleonic expeditions launched a fashion recreating a lush, tropical environment along the Mediterranean coastline. If the palm trees are conscientiously chosen, such a garden can thrive on Ibiza.
Provençal gardens are characterized by gentle landscapes and vegetation dominated by the olive tree. Romanticized by fields of lavender, wild herb meadows, pinewoods and cypress, such gardens create both a stunning visual and olfactory sensation. If you are considering such a garden, regular maintenance is a must!
The Tuscan panorama, rich in both horticultural and architectural heritage, consists of alleys of cypresses, flower beds, huge flower vases, majestic trees, walkways, gazebos, ponds and fountains. Such a garden is stately, refined and elegant but also requires its share of maintenance to look its best.
We could deescribe dozens more gardens from around the world. Instead, if you are considering a garden, let's meet and evaluate the possibilities together and turn your vision into reality.
A short history of gardensFrom Chinese gardens to the gardens in Tuscany and everything in between
"In the beginning God created a garden..."
Of all the men of genius who inhabited this world, I quote Sir Francis Bacon:
"God Almighty first planted a Garden. And indeed it is the purest of human pleasure. It is the greatest refreshment to the spirit of man; without which buildings and palaces are but gross handyworks and a man shall ever see that when ages grow to civility and elegancy, men come to build stately sooner than to garden finely: as if gardening were the greater perfection."
Gardens have always been an integral part of humankind, from early orchards and productive gardens, they have become leisure gardens, parks with dramatic settings, minimalist meditation Zen gardens like those found in Japan, or thousand fountains and powerful perspectives like the one in Versailles, just to name a few.
Today, the legacy of hundreds of generations of gardeners has turned us into the technicians of the earth, reasoned and not often reasonable, as our ancestors would have liked. Creativity and technological boundaries constantly push us further, allowing us today to create magical spaces mixing minerals, plants, water and light.
The regional influence partially guides the type, style and appearance of a garden whereas man brings his personal preferences and technicalities into the mix. The garden is a piece of nature tamed and shaped by man’s hand for its aesthetic values, it’s supposed to be the building’s case. Thus we have seen the birth of many different styles of gardens; it is not our goal to make an exhaustive list but rather to peruse over the main regional orientations.
It is said that around 700 BC, the island was covered with forest of oaks that have disappeared due to logging for glass industry, ceramics, firewood and cooking. This systematic eradication profoundly affected the climate and soil quality to let appear a pine population, hence why the islands of Ibiza and Formentera are known as the Pitiuses Islands.
All this vegetation is particularly well-adapted and suited to the climate of the island, which is a mild Mediterranean climate, dry and very sunny.
1. Chinese gardens
Among the oldest known landscape creation, some say 3.000 years BC, this art began in the Qin and Han dynasties in the creation of miniature landscapes by taking advantage of the natural environment. During the Tang and Song dynasties (618 - 1279) we meet the first “masters of rock”, fundamental elements in Chinese gardens in imitating nature and the cosmos with a very strong symbol of strength
The aesthetic was strongly influenced by Taoism doctrine advocating the beauty of nature before man's intervention. Further along, Confucianism also had a significant influence by providing its moral and ethical principles. Example of the mountain and the water equivalent to the theory of benevolence and wisdom, the symbol of good and beautiful together, this brings us to the famous notion of Yang and Ying, the opposite and complementary: hardness (the mountain) or Yang, cannot exist without flexibility (the water) or Ying.
The Chinese garden is composed of four basic elements: stone, water, architecture (pavilions, bridges, etc ...) and plants. The three plants considered "friend of man" are:
- Pine, which embodies strength and durability;
- Bamboo, which evokes immortality and wisdom since it bends without breaking; and
- Prunus, which blooms before Spring and announces renewal.
One of the most beautiful examples of a recent Chinese Garden is the Yüan Ming-Yuan, built in the eighteenth century by the Emperor Yongzheng. Totally created by man’s hand it recreates a miniature world with all of its fundamental elements. Feng shui doctrine, based on the study of energy in order to bring balance and harmony the human being, is also very present in the design of this garden. The Chinese Garden nowadays has evolved and inspired a different kind of garden: the Japanese.
2. The Japanese garden
Having come over to Japan from China centuries ago, the art of the gardens was enhanced by many generations of architect gardeners. Specifically, Japanese gardens can be: imperial, bourgeois or monastic. No matter the garden, all are worshipped throughout Japan. The heart of the garden is where one goes to meditate, collect one's thoughts, feel and touch the beauty of the stone, water, plants and various architectural elements which make up the garden
Japanese gardens are designed and built according to three main principles: reproduction of nature in miniature, symbolism and the capture of natural landscapes.
- Miniaturiation: aims to represent nature in a reduced area;
- Symbolism: the religious aspect contributing to simplification; and
- Capture of landscape: a technique that involves integrating a remote, natural landscape as part of the garden, creating a distant background.
The techniques and realisations are numerous and very sophisticated, giving the impression of a natural landscape totally created by nature. These are outstanding works of apparent simplicity and refinement in design where the subtle integration and use of rocks, water, trees and plants, all elements bringing harmony and serenity.
3. The Zen garden
Created in the early fifteenth century, zen gardens are the representation and the transposed image of nature. Most of the time, entirely composed of minerals, rocks, gravel and sand, they symbolize a landscape with mountains, lakes, forests, lake and rivers. Little implementation, absolute suggestion and abstract lines, the Zen garden is the summum of landscape design.
The water is suggested by the gravel raked every day, according to a very precise rhythm, the rocks, arranged by great masters, symbolize mountains and this mineral composition invite to contemplation and meditation. The garden is generally not vast and typically enclosed by stone walls.
The vision is the most impacting: space and infinity, the perfection and subtle balance of the rocks, the care to the most insignificant detail, leave the visitor with an impression of serenity.
4. The Persian garden
In the Middle East, the art of the garden also had a great following, some even saying it dates back 4.000 years.
There is unfortunately nothing left of Pasagardes and Persepolis but some ancients writings lead us to believe that gardens were structured spaces around canals, ponds and fountains. Walls enclosed the gardens and visitors could enjoy the place in the freshness of the tree shade, most pleasant in these hot climates.
With the invasion of Persia by the Mongols in the 13th century, the popularity of gardens was boosted and the Persian garden was exported to India. A Moghal Emperor would later build one of the seven wonders of the world: the Taj Mahal, showing a magnificent example of such a Persian garden.
Few such gardens remain yet they were, during many centuries, the reflection of a particularly refined way of life. Such refinement has attracted Muslims rulers who have adopted this knowledge and value of aesthetics.
5. Gardens of Islam
Heir to the Persian Gardens, a remarkable example of a garden of Islam kept at its former splendour state is the Alhambra (the Palace of the Generalif) in Granada, Spain. It is a marvel of harmony and serenity, its architects having created a complex of great refinement with omnipresent water in all its possible and imaginable forms. It is protected from prying eyes and the geometry subtly mixes minerals, water and plants.
These gardens are typically enclosed, filled with pure architectural wonders, feats of water engineering and lush vegetation. They are places of serenity and inspiration, exchanges and meetings, grand reception or absolute solitude and intended, according to its Persian roots, to be "paradise."
They generally consist of several levels, each with its own purpose and function, and the internal slopes are cleverly used to run streams, canals and pools that finally disappear into recirculation conduits. Geometry and fountains have been the inspiration of many landscape designers and are often found in our contemporary gardens, a "wink" to the garden of Islam.
6. French gardens
One cannot, on the topic of gardens, fail to mention Andres Lenôtre, a superstar in the world of gardening and landscape architect of the "Roi Soleil" at Versailles. The influence of this garden was such that he dazzled all the courts of Europe!
He made exhaustive studies of geometric shapes, perspectives created, the use and distribution of canals, fountains, pools and water games. To Andres, spaces had to be crossed or rather explored and as such he invented the pruning technique; topiary art was developed as the "King's favourite entertainment," pushing known technical limits to new heights. The botanist Jean Baptiste de la Quintinie, working closely with Andres Lenôtre, initiated the pruning of fruit trees that will long time be the de facto reference in the horticultural world.
These carefully and rigorously designed garden meets the standards of the "law of composition"; the plan is geometric and uses optical effects. Generally, a main terrace dominates the entire garden and arouses the desire to discover its every corner, always with a perspective axis. From such fundamental basics the gardens get structured. Theatricality is a must and the visitor constantly discovers different spaces.
These types of garden are of course reserved for the noble and very wealthy but it has served as an inspiration for many other styles of gardens, more contemporary and using optical illusions, staging aquatic elements and clear division of spaces.
7. English gardens
Eternal rivals of the French, the English have also created many majestic spaces, parks and gardens that appear to have been made by nature itself.
In stark contrast to the French garden, English gardens are organized around winding paths that lead you to discover continually "scenic" views. Perhaps the views were so picturesque as many garden creators were often painters of great talent. The winding paths, the wild vegetation, groves, majestic trees and mix of species, perhaps the English garden wants to reproduce nature in its most absolute state. There is always a pond or lake which seems to have been there since the beginning of time.
Capability Brown, the "greatest gardener of England," after reassuring his clients on their properties' great possibilites, always claimed that a beautiful garden had to have a water feature in proportion to the size of the home, hence why they dug ponds with an army of men armed with shovels. The excessiveness is matched by the nobleness of the lieu, and one must admit that at Blenheim Palace the result is breathtaking. One can find there the expression of poetry and sensitivity of landscape artists, far from geometric rigors, and take great pleasure in the maze of winding alleys and discover great scenery.
The English Garden has certainly brought a lot to landscape architecture with flexibility and harmony. The pronounced taste of green spaces conquered the entire population and the slogan "Small is beautiful" has many followers; English backyards quickly turned into leisure gardens to the greatest delight of their owners. Open garden tours with homemade scones, cakes and Pimms served is a great way to show off your garden—how very British! There are nowadays many English gardens designed by famous landscape architects that can be visited, each with its own characteristics and style but never leaving you indifferent.
8. Botanical gardens
Invented in Pisa, Italy, during the Renaissance, the first botanical garden was known as Orto Botanico and took precedence over the “Garden of Simples” (medicinal herbs garden), focused on a rigorous concern for plant classification and knowledge.
The poetic or artistic vision of space gave way to the "collector’s eye" and the scientist rigour, experimentation, adaptation, acclimatizing, collecting and storing a very wide number of plants, trees and shrubs from around the world with the sole objective being botanical knowledge.
These gardens had and continue to have a fundamental role in the formation of careers in horticulture and landscape design and allow knowing the regional floras and the degree of plants adaptation according to climatic zones. Through their rich collection, sometimes shown in spectacular settings, visitors can get precious information about plants use and growth habit helping designers in their botanical choices.