Tag Archive: pool


WP_20150810_13_00_34_ProOn my latest trip to Portugal, I was thinking there must be another classic garden to visit in the mountain hideaway of Sintra. But having checked, it seems I’ve been to all of them, and if you’re interested you can see them in my series ‘Portuguese Gardens’.

But there remained a lingering doubt (or was it hope?), that there must be an historic garden somewhere close. Looking at the Lisbon map, and planning our days out, it stood out in that large green lung that is the Monsanto Park: the Palace of the Marquesas Fronteira.

This classic house, originally built in 1670 as a hunting lodge in what was then the rolling, wooded hills of northern Lisbon, is still lived in by the current Marquis and his family, so the house is only partly open to visitors (via a very informative 45 minute guided tour). Today, the views are of the sprawling Lisbon suburb of Benfica, including the red-arched Estadio da Luz, home to that famous football team of the district. About 100 years after its inception, after the infamous Lisbon earthquake had destroyed his main home, the then Marquis decided to extend his hunting lodge and make this palace home.

WP_20150810_12_52_39_ProAfter being asked if we’re mind waiting for a later house tour (to enable the rest of the party to benefit from the French version), I had a little wander into this compact, but interest-filled garden. And I went round again after hearing about and seeing some sumptuous interiors.

The centre-piece, especially as viewed from the upstairs rooms of the house as well as the high terrace overlooking the formal pool, is a rather intricate box parterre, where the shapes are closely edged, leaving what seems to be an impossibly narrow gap between the bushes: still the gardener seems to manage somehow.

This impressive feature was only partly filled with a selection of roses, and though traditional, I find the combination of close-clipped box and rather more unruly roses not as satisfying as when the enclosed beds contain slightly shorter plants that themselves have a rather more symmetrical form, e.g. lavender or perhaps catmint.

The elevated terrace with its display of sculptures of Portuguese kings surrounded by metallic-glazed tiles, is also very satisfying to walk along and gaze from, including downwards to a well-stocked carp and goldfish pool, with a lone, and rather aggressive black swan! I could picture this pool being the centre of 18th century fun and games, with rowing boats taking important guests from one little grotto to another, deftly avoiding the fountains of water (which today at least, were not in operation).

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Nearby is a rather more naturalistic garden with tall trees and what must be at other times beautiful borders of hydrangea and agapanthus (I took the opportunity of gathering some seed heads of the latter). The walls of this area and indeed the rest of the garden, are beautifully tiled with traditional, if rather simply designed tiles, or azulejos, plus a vivid blue paint, the latter beautifully setting off fresh green foliage.

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There is also a rather lovely terrace with immediate access to and from the first floor of the palace, with another impressive array of classically-inspired sculpture, leading to another large grotto, this one covered inside with the broken pieces of crockery and other shattered ceramics, apparently some coming from the plates used at the Palace’s inauguration, and smashed to commemorate the event!

Similar in style to other Portuguese palaces and gardens of the time, Fronteira is nonetheless well worth a trip, especially for the way our guide brought it to life.

Further information:

Fronteira Palace website

Gardens and Landscapes of Portugal

Old School Gardener

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PicPost: Snookered

All about the leaves- Fatsia japonica

All about the leaves- Fatsia japonica

This latest  ‘snippet on style’  focuses on leaves. You might think that gardens designed around leaves would be boring. Not a bit of it. Foliage comes in all shapes, sizes and many colours (or shades of green). With the occasional splash of floral colour and other focal points thay can provide a  wonderfully soothing, and sometimes exotic air.  Foliage gardens are typified by the use of leaf and plant texture and shapes as well as subtle variations in leaf colour to provide interest, rather than floral display at different times of the year, which tends to drive other garden styles or at least their planting plans.

Sometimes the whole garden is about foliage, punctuated with flower or other colour (for example The Exotic Garden in Norwich – see link below). Sometimes specific areas in a larger garden are devoted to foliage, with the emphasis on contrasting varieties and plant forms. These gardens are typically organic in shape, with no hard edges and informal in layout and feel. They can also feature items such as sculpture or garden furniture made out of rustic materials and used as focal points set off against the foliage. Other key features of foliage gardens include:

  • Bold foliage

  • Colourful highlights

  • Pools and reflections

  • Containers

  • Locally sourced, rough materials

  • Height and structure

Links:

Other articles in the ‘Style Counsel’ series:

Family Gardens

Productive Gardens

Japanese Gardens

Country Gardens

Modernist Gardens

Formal Gardens

Mediterranean Gardens

Cottage gardens

Old School Gardener

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Great Garden @ Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon

‘Whenever I want to escape the hustle and bustle of Lisbon, and don’t want to travel far, I retreat to the gardens of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum.

Covering roughly 17 acres, this beautifully landscaped garden contains a wide variety of well-established tropical as well as indigenous plants and trees that shelter subtly-appointed benches and seats. In the last few months a network of new, flat, winding paths has been opened through the garden.

There are picnic tables situated next to a lake where you can sit on bright winter days and soak up the sun, or watch the ducks with their fleets of ducklings enjoying the water in spring. At the weekends the gardens come alive with the sound of kids playing in the sunshine.

In the summer months, it is nice to disappear into this garden down one of the maze-like paths that snake through the shrubbery and to feel as if you are the only person in the world, surrounded only by birds scurrying around in the undergrowth or flitting in the trees. Somehow, the vast tree canopies manage to dull the sound of Lisbon traffic to the point you forget it is there and will also shelter you from the heat of the day.

The garden contains an open-air amphitheater where, during the summer, a programme of films or music events takes place in the evenings.

Whether on a hot, sultry summer evening or a bright, sunny winter day this garden is the perfect place to be and feel completely relaxed.’

Katy Pugh

Old School Gardener

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