Central to formal garden planting is geometric pattern, accentuated by the artful use of topiary. It is hard to beat the formal gardens of Portugal’s Queluz Palace, where topiary and geometric lines complement each other exquisitely.
Situated a mere 20 minutes’ drive from Lisbon, the landscaped gardens of the National Palace of Queluz were originally inspired by Versailles. The palace was built in the mid-1700s, and the Palace gardens would have been the setting for many a royal family party. Although the 3 formal gardens make up a small fraction of the 50 acres of grounds, they remain a particular highlight. Each of these formal gardens, delineated in axes punctuated by statues from ancient mythology, are fine examples of master topiary at work. The ambiance is embellished with the constant sound of running water from the myriad of ideally positioned small lakes and fountains.
The Malta Garden (a reference to the Order of Malta) is a rectangular shaped garden with geometric lines of shaped box hedges (Buxus Sempervirens), forming paths leading to an ornate pond at its centre, dotted throughout with Buxus Globes, and flanked at either end by a pair of conical shaped Italian Cypress trees.
The Hanging (Neptune’s) Garden is in the style of a formal French garden with box hedge parterres de broderie featuring Taxus Baccatta Yew Trees for added structure. The garden is made up of four sections, two of which are mirrors of each other and features one small lake and 3 fountains.
The Labyrinth Garden is a series of beautifully shaped Buxus Sempervirens or Box hedges in aesthetic formal repetitive patterns.
If you are looking to add a more formal dimension to your garden or to embellish an existing formal garden, additional topiary shapes can also be added for interest. This could include Buxus Spirals, Buxus Cones and lollipops. Cloud Trees, with their stunning structural shapes would also work well in a formal context.