Escape the heat in an Italian garden

In the often relentless heat of a Mediterranean summer a classic Italian Renaissance garden is the perfect retreat.

Topiary, statues and clean lines are the elements that make up this type of gardening with spaces that suggest symmetry and order.

Colour is kept to a minimum and there’s an overall impression of green, creating a soothing atmosphere.

It’s a style that’s far removed from the colourful, flower-filled English garden but one that’s perfect for Italy in August, offering a cool escape from the heat.

 The magnificent fountains at Villa d'Este.

Evergreens are often clipped into low hedges or geometric shapes, while height comes from pines, Quercus ilex, the holm oak, and slender cypresses.

Statues and urns are used as focal points along long vistas, often with views out to the surrounding countryside. Fountains and pools give the cooling sight and sound of water.

One of the best known is the 16th century Villa d’Este at Tivoli near Rome. Such is the magnificence of this terraced garden with its grottos and playful fountains, it’s on the UNESCO world heritage list.

The water is channelled through the garden by gravity and spills out into fountains, cascades and water spouts.

The Viottolone in Florence's Boboli Gardens

In Florence, the Boboli Gardens have been described as the ‘green lung’ of the city.

Created over 400 years from the 15th to the 19th century, at its heart is amphitheatre enclosed by statues based on Roman myths while the Viottolone, or large avenue, leads down to the ‘Ocean’ fountain.

Italian Renaissance gardens were copied in gardens across Europe with topiary, statues and follies appearing in many. The influence can be seen from the Italianate style of Iford Manor, created by garden architect Harold Peto, to the formal terraces at the front of Bowood House in Wiltshire.

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