Tuscan Garden Design
Contemporary Tuscan Garden Style
When one imagines the typical Tuscan garden- images of elaborate, formal Renaissance gardens often spring to mind, like Boboli in Florence or La Bagnaia, near Rome...
Elaborate gardens such as these displayed the power and control that man wished to exert over nature in the glorious Renaissance period of 16th century Italy.
Although this is a somewhat justified image, and does reflect well the origins of the Tuscan garden, it has to be said that more than four centuries have passed since this garden design concept was first laid down by the Tuscan Aristocracy.
Clearly in four hundred years a lot can happen and the principles of Tuscan garden design have been adapted by social changes and horticultural advances in general. The link between man and nature here in Tuscany is very strong and several social revolutions, political changes and increased tourism have led to the real custodians of the land (Tuscan farmers) having their say too...
However, the arrival of international tourism has meant that the poverty-stricken farming culture has become suddenly fashionable and has propelled the rustic farmers way of life out from the farmyard and firmly onto the international scene. The 'Tuscan peasant style' (as it is known) has seen a massive leap in the interior design sector, with 'Peasant' furniture (kitchen tables, chairs etc), having become the most sought after items for the 'house in Tuscany' feel.
This development has also clearly been felt in the garden design sector too and has taken Tuscan garden design into a new era of rustic innovation- where natural is most definitely better and where it seems that there is nothing more modern than the past!
New interest in organic foods and alternative, homeopathic medicines has led to a wave of interest in 'the way things used to be done'- and nowhere has this been felt more than in Tuscany with the latest garden style being a wonderful fusion of past and new and formal and informal.
So if I were to define a Tuscan style garden for today's Tuscan home buyer I would say that it is definitely, a garden that focuses on a fusion style. This contemporary style adopts formal, modern innovative design techniques near the house that extend into and embrace the informal areas of the garden- such as wild flower pastures, born from the techniques once used by the local farmer, or 'peasant'.
Pastures and wild meadows such as these were traditionally used for collecting cooking herbs and medicinal plants, and so fit very nicely into a Tuscan style. These areas, further from the house, could also include organic vegetable gardens, meadows that provide beauty, food and medicines in the form of stunning poppy-fields, teeming with other indigenous wild flowers, herbs and wild salad plants.
There should be areas of formal, contemporary garden design near the house with a strong Mediterranean feel, using gravel gardens that address both the problems of water shortage and frustrating maintenance routines in this fast and frenetic world in which we live
However by using art topiary these can remain loyal to their Renaissance origins.
The world is changing at an alarming rate and modern garden designers in Tuscany are perceiving and addressing these changes in the same way as the garden designers of the 16th century perceived and addressed the social aspects relevant to that era.
All this goes to show that in 400 years an awful lot can change - and rightly so!