A master of parterre art.

Once upon a time parterres en broderie were the height of fashion in garden design. Formal parterres started off in Italy and soon gained popularity amongst royalty and nobility in France. This is where they were elevated into garden art – the more elaborate the better. A master of parterre art was André Mollet (died 1665). He was the third generation of highly prestigious gardeners. His father was the gardener to three French kings and his grandfather contributed to bringing Italian formal gardening to France.

Le Jardin de plaisir - André Mollet - A master of parterre art. - GardenRoomStyle
Le Jardin de plaisir , contenant plusieurs desseins de jardinage (Éd.1651) – André Mollet

André’s fortunes where mainly to come outside of France, however. He went to England to work for Charles I, then to Holland aiding Prince Fredrick Henry of Orange in garden design, and later doing the same for Queen Christina of Sweden. He remained with the latter for five years as royal gardener.

parterres en broderie - parterres en broderie André Mollet A master of parterre art.
Garden design by André Mollet showing an overall parterre plan.

Parterre design became Mollet’s garden design signum. Not least because he wrote a book on the subject. ‘Le Jardin de plaisir, contenant plusieurs desseins de jardinage‘ was cleverly published in three languages; English, Swedish and German hence working as a marketing tool in European aristocratic circles.

parterres en broderie - parterres en broderie
Parterre design in detail.

The drawings featured in his book are incredibly elaborate. Are they even achievable? Some of them to me look more like textile/wallpaper design … Perhaps best to consider the designs for inspirational purposes? Why not in the context of a kitchen garden mixing veggies and blooms? Or in lawn design? André was actually an innovator in this respect being the first one to introduce scythed turf as a garden design feature. Still going strong over 400 years later ….

A criss-crossed lawn - GardenRoomStyle
Orangerie @Versaille
Lawn parterre design @ Versaille.