Life in gardens: many pretty devises

Embroidering in the garden, via British Library“Ladies seated at their embroidery, including one engaged in lace-making, and another at the virginal, with a man beside her singing. Behind, a formal garden, with clipped hedges, parterres, and fountain.”  

The image  is from the Album Amicorum of Gervasius Fabricius, 1603-1637, (Würzburg and Salzburg) via The British Library Commons on flickr.

It’s hard to see how any of them could work over their ruffs.

Now for women instead of laborious studies, they have curious Needle-workes, Cut-workes, spinning, bone-lace, and many pretty devises of their own making, to adorne their houses, Cushions, Carpets, Chairs, Stooles, confections, conserves, distillations, etc. which they shew to strangers. . . . This they have to busie themselves about, household offices, etc. neate gardens full of exotick, versicoloure, diversely varied, sweet smelling flowers, and plants, in all kindes, which they are most ambitious to get, curious to preserve and keepe, proud to possesse, and much many times to bragge of.

Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621

Museum garden in Lyon

Staying in France a little longer: The city of Lyon has two excellent museums located side-by-side on the Rue de la Charité in the Presqu’île area.

The Decorative Arts Museum is housed in the Hôtel de Lacroix Laval, built by Jacques Germain Soufflot in 1739.

Its windows overlook a small traditional parterre — or would, were they not covered by protective shades and gorgeous silk drapes.

The boxwood hedges are laid out in concentric triangles, punctuated by clipped balls.  Ivy fills the centers, and acuba is planted at either end of the space.

Inside, the museum displays beautiful complete rooms of paneling, lighting, and furniture taken from 18th c. French residences, as well as ceramics and silver.

Next door, The Textile Museum exhibits clothing, tapestries, and carpets — from ancient Egypt and Asia to modern France.

I nearly had a religious experience in its gallery of silk Persian garden carpets hung against deep gray walls.

While I was in the garden, I also remembered the triangular patterns in the Rwandan Royal Palace garden in Nyanza.


What a lovely spare garden, which I found on the blog Defiant Gardens. [Please click on the link.]

This chapel was built by Italian prisoners of war held at Lamb Holm, on the Orkney Islands, Scotland, during World War II.  It has been preserved and can be visited today, but lawn has replaced the simple parterre.

Read more at the website Undiscovered Scotland, which has photos of the interior of the chapel.