Green and Grand: 5 Formal Gardens for Earth Day

Green and Grand: 5 Formal Gardens for Earth Day

Green and Grand: 5 Formal Gardens for Earth Day

Inspired by the global celebration of Earth Day (April 22), Luxury Defined spotlights a collection of homes with gardens green, grand, and glorious


All gardens, great or small, celebrate our human stewardship of Earth’s bounty.  

Formal gardens represent an ultimate integration of nature into a great estate’s grand design. By attempting to impose order and symmetry in nature, landscape designers sought to delight—and impress. And impress they did!   

The Palace of Versailles’s gardens are essential to its overall design. Louis XIV’s principal gardener and landscape architect, André Le Nôtre, organized the gardens on two axes, creating the illusion of an infinite vista called “the Grande Perspective.”  

In 18th-century England, a new perspective emerged: While Palladian order and symmetry defined such great country houses as Blenheim Palace, the English landscape designers used great artifice to imitate nature. Their rolling parklands, punctuated by copses, reflecting pools, fountains, ponds, and serpentine lakes, were all as rigorously composed as a great symphony.  

Lancelot “Capability” Brown, England’s greatest gardener, compared his designs to the structure of a sentence: “There I make a comma, and there, where a more decided turn is proper, I make a colon; at another part, where an interruption is desirable to break the view, a parenthesis; now a full stop, and then I begin another subject.” 

Herewith, we present a few sentences on five homes with magnificent formal gardens designed in the French and English traditions, and some exquisite variations on our theme. 

1. Springfield House in Celbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland 

Ireland estate
An elegant Irish country manor and cultural landmark, Springfield House is framed by formal gardens with apple, fig, beech, and yew trees, and a beautiful weeping willow.

County Kildare’s Springfield House, dating to 1763, is a prime example of the symmetrical Adam-style country house. 

It is also a significant landmark in the cultural and literary history of Ireland. The birthplace of writer Aidan Higgins, the house figures prominently in his 1966 novel Langrishe Go Down, later adapted by Harold Pinter for a BBC film. 

Restored and updated in 1989 as a bed and breakfast, the 10-acre property comprises a grand main residence of about 6,000 square feet; a courtyard and stables. A three-bedroom gate lodge of about 800 square feet can be purchased separately. 

The main entrance hall’s marble floors and stained-glass doors introduce the twin curved staircases to the upper level and the ground-floor reception rooms with their bay windows and marble fireplaces. The formal dining room is served by a distinctively modern catering kitchen. The glass-walled conservatory lounge opens to a courtyard. The home’s distinct wings provide eight en suite bedrooms.  

Outside, shrubs and railed paddocks border the groomed lawn and formal gardens, studded with apple, fig, and a row of beech trees. A grand weeping willow takes pride of place, but hidden deeper into the grounds is a stout yew tree thought to be a thousand years old. 

Springfield House is convenient to the historic town of Celbridge, and about 15 miles from Dublin. 

2. Stately Apartments in Florence, Italy 

Florence estate
Built in the 13th century and reimagined for the 21st, this noble Florentine villa is complemented by masterfully designed formal gardens of both Italian and English varieties.

This manorial villa, restored and converted into 11 luxurious, turnkey apartments, resides in nearly 25 acres in the hills above Florence. 

The symmetrical, graffito-patterned manor house was built during the Renaissance for a notable Florentine family. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was converted into a convent for the Dominican nuns and remained as such until 2013. 

Then an extensive restoration returned the main house, ancillary structures, and the magnificent grounds to their original splendor. The 11 apartments offer a total 20 bedrooms and 30 bathrooms. The common spaces include a reception hall, gallery, gym, wine cellar and tasting room. There are plans to create a restaurant, an outdoor heated pool, and an underground garage.  

The formal gardens encompass almost two acres, styled in both the Italian and English traditions. The vineyard extends to 2.5 acres. There are nearly 18.5 acres of olive groves with about 1,400 trees. The remaining land is a private, wooded demesne with the picturesque Tuscan landscape as the backdrop. 

3. The Logosberg Estate in Amsterdam, Netherlands 

Amsterdam estate
Het Gooi, “the Garden of Amsterdam,” is the setting for Villa Logosberg, a lavish private estate with magnificent gardens designed by French landscape architect Jean Mus. 

The Villa Logosberg is ensconced in the pastoral landscape of the Zuiderheide nature reserve on the edge of Laren, an affluent town and former artist’s colony just outside Amsterdam.  

The 34,864-square-foot stone manor, with nine bedrooms, seven full baths, and 19 partial baths, was built in 2012 for the contemporary live-work-play experience, yet with all the airs and graces of a grand country house. 

The marble-floored entry foyer dazzles with twin curved stairways flanking a double-height glass curtain wall that introduces the great room, a soaring, skylighted, balcony atrium. 

The ground and basement levels are dedicated to relaxation and entertainment, with a two-story wine vault, spa, media lounge, and cocktail bar. The highlight is the grotto-style indoor pool with an adjoining hot tub. 

Outside is an Olympic-size heated pool, complemented by a pool house and sun terrace adjoining the tennis court. 

Stone terraces, tree-lined paths, and ponds, swathed in greenery, grace the parklike gardens, designed by celebrated French landscape architect Jean Mus.  

Amsterdam and Schiphol Airport are both within a half-hour drive.

4. Tudor-Style Manor in River Oaks, Houston, Texas 

Texas mansion
The architecture and formal gardens of this estate home near the River Oaks Country Club pay homage to the great Tudor halls of England. 

The lush green symmetries of Tudor knot gardens embrace this Cotswolds-inspired manor house in Houston’s prestigious River Oaks neighborhood. 

A traditional half-timbered, brick and limestone façade, framed by elegant quoins at the corners, encloses 18,265 square feet of gracious interior space with hardwood floors, coffered and barrel-vault ceilings, and mullioned windows. Its limestone-carved stone arches and stone floors were imported from England’s Cotswolds.  

The 800-bottle wine cellar has a beautiful triple barrel-vaulted brick ceiling over the slate-floored tasting space. A banquet room, wood-paneled library, pub-style billiard room, and a superbly appointed, comfortable cinema lounge are additional highlights. 

The private guest wing and a separate cottage also offer a gym and sauna. The brick-paved motor-court accesses the four-car garage equipped with car lifts.  The two-acre grounds also provide serene Tudor parterre and rose gardens, disappearing fountains, a saltwater pool, and a pavilion with an elegant summer kitchen.

5. Villa M in Marrakech, Morocco 

Marrakech villa
Villa M offers privacy, security, and tranquility in the lush environs of La Palmeraie, Marrakech’s palm oasis.

Villa M is an oasis of serenity in La Palmeraie, just outside the ancient citadel of Marrakech.  

The monumental 67,813-square-foot residence seamlessly blends traditional Moroccan architecture with contemporary interior design. The exquisite details include museum-quality zellige mosaics, Mudéjar-style panels and ceilings, and hand-carved columns and archways.  

There are 16 bedrooms and 16 equally deluxe bathrooms. The reception rooms are grandly scaled and luxuriously appointed with bespoke furniture, light fixtures, and objets d’art. 

The villa’s lower level is styled in the tradition of ancient Moorish baths, with a hammam, spa, and a lap pool. Adding to the resort-like ambience are a beauty salon, a cocktail bar and lounge, and a movie theater.  

Two infinity pools and a clay tennis court are within the formal grounds, a paradise worthy of a Moroccan palace of old, with three perfectly symmetrical mirror pools, courtyards, pavilions, and paths through palm groves, century-old olive trees, and fragrant flower gardens. 

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