Garden design, a history |

Garden design, a history

Caramie Schnell
Vail CO Colorado
Special to the Daily

Most people’s gardens have been put to bed for the winter, tucked in under a pile of crispy brown leaves. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t already thinking about what they’ll do with their plot come next spring. And we’re not just talking about the flowers or vegetables they’d like to plant.

Gardeners on the Go, an Eagle County garden group, is hosting a free talk about garden design by landscape architect Christine Sena on garden design Monday at the Eagle Public Library.

“We think the topic of the history of garden design will appeal to many club members, plus it has many spinoffs,” said event organizer Jan Fedrezzi, who is a master gardener. “After hearing and seeing the presentation, gardeners will be more aware of their own garden style and perhaps will garner ideas to refine their approach to their personal gardens. Plus, learning about architectural and garden design history allows us to appreciate design elements that we see every day.”

Sena’s lecture will include site plans and photos of noteworthy gardens from the Renaissance through present day.

“Many design concepts we use today are based on classic garden designs from the renaissance through present day,” Sena said. “Some examples range from the very simple contemplative garden Ryoan-ji in Kyoto, Japan, which consists of only three elements: rocks, moss and raked sand-like quartz. On the other extreme, the renaissance era Villa D’Este at Tivoli diverted an entire river to run its unique water features.”

From formal to natural

Monday’s program is targeted to gardeners of any level and to members of the public interested in elements of design, especially architectural and garden design, Fedrezzi said.

Sena will talk about formal renaissance era gardens like France’s Vaux-le-Vicompte where the architecture became secondary to the gardens.

“This 100-acre landscape, which was owned by Fouquet, the finance minister for King Louis XIV, included intricately designed parterres, grand views, fountains and hunting grounds.”

The English took their gardens in an entirely different direction – “natural landscapes, which included man made lakes with natural edges, framed views of ruins, and outer parks for hunting and riding,” Sena said.

“Many of the design concepts evidenced in these gardens can be adapted to smaller scale, more intimate residential gardens,” Sena continued.

‘Diverse interests’

Gardeners on the Go has been around for five years. The group hosts speakers on many gardening topics throughout the year – “our members have diverse interests –from seed starting to design to pest control; from flower gardening to vegetable gardening; from growing cacti to orchids,” Fedrezzi said.

The group hosts a program, hike or field trip every month.

“This past summer, for instance, we went on an all-day field trip to Leadville to visit high altitude gardens and also on a trip to Palisade to visit a lavender farm and the state insectary, where beneficial insects are bred and dispersed,” Fedrezzi said. “We appreciate local nurseries and experts helping us out for programs; have been all over the Western Slope and to Denver for our field trips.”

Sometimes the group does a community service project, like weeding at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, instead of a meeting. The group sometimes works loosely with the CSU Extension, sharing speakers or ideas. Members meet on the first Monday of the month. The locations varies based on the planned program or trip. The only membership requirement is to pay $15 in yearly dues.

If you’re interested in Monday’s talk, or in learning more about joining Gardeners on the Go, call 970-328-6961 or email

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