We’re drowning here in Southern Germany! The past four weeks it has rained non-stop and at the check-out counter of my local gardening center almost everyone in line included a box of slug bait. Yes, it’s very green but even if it were to stop raining, the garden is inaccessible due to extreme slugginess!
Amazing to contrast this with the dry Southern Spanish climate we recently visited where water is the central feature of most of the designed gardens. It’s difficult to imagine we would desire the sound of water here but a pond seems like a good idea to house some predators for those slugs. But as garden fashion goes…crucial in the design of any ‘water feature’, is the sound of the trickle. Without being too descriptive, you don’t want it to sound ‘human’ unless it is the point of the feature (think: Manneken Pis).
Here are some examples of quiet, meditative water gardens;
The Alcazar Palace gardens in Seville are a true paradise within a bustling city. No wonder the Spanish royals still stay here when visiting! The gardens combine both Islamic elements (water fountains, rills, and geometric tile) and Renaissance elements (hedges and parterres). Although construction of the site began in 913 AD the gardens obviously date to a much more recent time.
With so many ‘garden rooms’ within, it was surprisingly easy to find a quiet space away from the hundreds (!) of strolling visitors and I was able to photograph some unobstructed views.
One of my favorite gardens to stroll in Munich is the Hofgarten next to the Residenz (palace). An Italian style Renaissance garden it is known for its colonnade with fabulous acoustics for live musicians and an endless amount of sunny spots for a lunch break. Unfortunately the fountains are covered (almost all fountains in the city are covered with elaborate wooden structures to prevent from freezing) but I prefer this garden any time those awful annuals are not planted.
I recently returned from Istanbul, Turkey. It probably tops my list of favorite cities to visit considering all it has to offer; warm, sunny weather in October, lots of cultural sights, wonderfully exotic sounds and smells, and the beautiful Bosphorus.
From what I’ve read, Turkish gardens differ from Persian ones in that they usually do not include water (perhaps because water is less scarce here). Unfortunately, very few traditional Ottoman gardens remain in Turkey. The public gardens of Topkapi palace, Blue Mosque and Dolmabache palace we visited in Istanbul were all influenced by Roman (Western) gardens and included lots of water elements as in the examples below;
The most wonderful garden discoveries are usually the ones behind closed doors and gates. Inner courtyards are full of hidden treasures and I often find myself inside these private spaces and pretending not to understand any signs or symbols regarding entry. Here I came upon such a treasure in Genova, Italy (that’s me in the center with my two eldest sons), amazed how such an elaborate terraced garden is used as a parking area for the employees of the surrounding bank building.