Plant gardens, rock gardens, flower gardens, vegetable gardens, ornamental gardens, whatever their type, gardens are defined as enclosed spaces. They may be isolated by a fence, a door, a hedge, flower beds, a wall, a staircase, or any surrounding structure. Access is usually protected, reserved to a family, a community, a city, a fee-paying public, or when freely open, limited to specific hours.
Secret gardens, formal gardens, hanging gardens, and other parks are an invitation to stroll, relax, daydream, meditate, but also to meet, observe, study, and discover. They are planned and designed to present nature as non-threatening, tamed, domesticated, transformed to become a landscape; they reflect their creators’s aesthetics.
Gardens combine the art of composition and juxtaposition. Architecture complements nature, allowing an interaction between soil, wood, stone, and iron. Simple or sophisticated, constructed structures underline and enhance the vegetation conceived as an element of beauty.
These multiple aspects of parks and gardens are reflected in paintings executed mostly in the Loire Valley in France, and the Hudson Valley in New York State. Brought together these individual depictions highlight the importance of this rich heritage, essential for its aesthetic values, its educational and social functions, but also essential, vital, for our survival.