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Royal Gardens

July 27th, 2007

venice royal garden 1

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The best way to see Venice is to get lost in its narrow lanes. When you’ve found yourself back in the scrum of St. Mark’s tourism with a photo memory card bursting with digi-cam pics, its time to find a sanctuary where you can reload. Head for the canal and turn right along the wharf. As you spot the water taxi dock, turn into the gate opposite the scurrying people and sit on a redwood bench. You have found the Royal Garden.

venice royal garden 6This tiny garden is charming because the botanic landscapers have used its diminutive size to their advantage. With such a small space, landscapers have the chance to create an intimate garden setting. There’s no need to “think big” as though they have 100 or 1,000 acres. Venice’s Royal Garden is about one acre, a perfect dimension to plan a garden around three levels: low, eye-level, and tall.

Consider the photos you see here. Venice builds upwards, which means the Royal Garden is surrounded on three sides by tall brick buildings with windows. You can’t compete with these buildings, but you can temper their intrusion on your senses. The tall trees in the park have branches that stretch into a canopy, and so neutralize the yellow brick walls. The next step is to have a lot of foliage at eye level—colorful vines, garden architecture, flowering trees. Now the environment is botanic and alluring to the eye (a natural object that looks for natural outlines, not brick walls all day long). It also holds the eye inside the small park space, and creates intimacy with the floral architecture. Finally, ground level should not only sparkle with color and texture, but also grow up from the beds to make the space familiar to visitors.

The landscape designers have given Venicians an emerald and diamond jewel that shows as a sparkling broach on the bosom of their island city—just steps from St. Mark’s Square.

Venice is a crowded island even on rainy days; so I was surprised to find no one in the park on a Sunday afternoon, not even to take a stroll past the flowerbeds, when just outside the gates hundreds of people stood shoulder-to-shoulder in dire battle for souvenir trinkets. I had been one of them just minutes before, yet inside the park none of that mattered. Raindrops filled flower petals drawn together like cups. When the stems could not take the weight any longer, they bent over and dumped their contents onto the ground. They moved like this over and over, dancers in curtsy to encore applause.

(read more about the Venice Royal Gardens highlights here

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