Posted tagged ‘water features’

Bartholdi Park

May 9, 2014

Several weeks ago, my “photo a day” group took a field trip down to the area around the Mall and some of the surrounding museums. Lately I have been shooting subjects other than gardens, but I was delighted when our workshop teacher, Colleen Henderson, introduced me to Bartholdi Park.

Situated across from (and technically part of) the US Botanic Garden, Bartholdi Park  is almost two acres in size and was recently renovated. If you work in the area, you should find your way to it as a place to escape the goings-on on Capitol Hill – there are benches, walkways, and a “Fountain of Water and Light.” I wasn’t there long enough to explore all of it, but look forward to returning. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photos I took before returning to capture architecture and shadows around the Mall.

The Water Terraces of Blenheim Palace

November 19, 2011

It was supposed to rain the whole week I was in Oxford.  Fortunately for me, it didn’t. So each day, my friend Jill would pile us into her car and take us sightseeing. Living in Oxfordshire, she suggested a “side trip” to nearby Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill was born, and a variety of gardens could be seen.

Blenheim Palace, Column of Victory, Capability Brown

Approaching Blenheim, one can see the Column of Victory, which commemorates the Battle of Blenheim.

Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

Somewhat overwhelming in scope, Blenheim Palace is called "Britain's Greatest Palace" in its 2011 brochure. Sir Winston Churchill was born here, and proposed to his wife on its grounds.

A small bit of background: The palace was constructed around 1705; but the 2000 acres of parkland surrounding it did not come into their current glory until the arrival of Lancelot  ‘Capability’ Brown in 1764. He was responsible for the creation of a giant lake, man-made undulations and a series of water cascades. Churchill himself wrote that Blenheim’s unique appeal lay in its perfect adaptation of English parkland to an Italian palace. The “Italian palace” reference seems peculiarly relevant to the part of gardens I saw – the western water terraces, designed by the French landscape architect Achille Duchêne.

Blenheim Palace, Upper water terrace, Achille Duchene

The upper water terrace at Blenheim, designed by Duchene

On a second terrace below the upper terrace were placed two great fountains in the style of Bernini, modeled after those in the Piazza Navona.
Blenheim Palace, Water terrace gardens, Achille Duchene

Blenheim Palace, water terraces

The lower water terraces in late afternoon light.

The water terraces took five years to build, from 1925 to 1930, during the stewardship of the 9th Duke of Malborough.  The sphinx sculptures seen in the photo above have heads modeled after Gladys Deacon, his second wife. As I walked around, appreciating the late afternoon light and trying to keep stray tourists out of my camera’s viewfinder, I was struck by two thoughts. The first one was  how unexpectedly much I liked the lower terrace area, in particular the choice of electric-orange cannas for the large urns anchoring the corners of the pools (who knows what these containers hold in other seasons?). The second was how incredibly different this garden is from Chartwell, Churchill’s personal, country home and garden, with its walled garden spilling over with classically British, lush, herbaceous borders. He loved both, but I like to think he loved Chartwell more.

For more information on the gardens at Blenheim Palace, please visit its website. I’d love to go back and explore the Secret Garden, the Temple of Diana (where the Prime Minister proposed to his wife Clementine), and the wide scope of Capability Brown’s work.

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