Archive for the ‘Garden Sculpture’ Category
Monasteries with dramatic gardens, adorned with garden statues and water fountains, flourished throughout Europe in the first half of the first millennium, and along with cross, monks carried the plough. Hard work, which had fallen into disfavor, was raised from the dust by the monks. “It was the special glory of St. Benedict [the founder of the order to which St. Augustine belonged] to teach the men of his day that work in the garden, sanctified by prayer, is the best thing a man can do, and this lesson has never been lost sight of since his time, as reflected in the beauty of the garden grounds.”
Within the walls of Benedictine monasteries, therefore, were large gardens with dramatic statuary, water features, and hanging wall fountain gardens cultivated by all the resident monks, often along with smaller ones assigned to the abbot and the chief almoner of the community. Formerly despised by the earliest Christians as symbols of paganism, flowers were now grown to decorate the church. The roses were often grown in large stone garden planters and was held in the highest esteem. At Subiaco is still preserved the roseto, a little rose garden set with a large stone statue of St. Benedict. The rose bushes it contains are said to be the same as those whose beauty delighted his senses, and with whose thorns he was accustomed to mortify his flesh.
The coming of St. Augustine to Canterbury in 597 A.D. was the beginning of a new era in gardens for the British Isles. The civilization, arts, and letters which had fled before the sword of the English conquest in post-Roman times returned with the Christian faith. In England, the revival of horticulture and decorative gardens and the introduction of several new vegetables and fruits was brought about by the Benedictine St. Augustine and his disciples. The flourishing gardens sported water fountains whose design was clearly inspired by the fountains of Italy.
On the continent, monks incorporated fragments of Roman villas into their monasteries, and restored the former gardens, and added garden statuary. But not in England. There, little or no connection existed between classic and convent grounds. And although during the two centuries succeeding the advent of the saint, gardening certainly flourished within the newly founded monasteries. And to this day, their influence remains.
If you visit the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome then you’ll find three fountains of interest in this imposing square. These fountains each have a particularly interesting history. They haven’t actually been in place in their current setting for that long but each fountain has had a rich and varied background. In fact, the sculptures you’ll see on these three fountains can trace back their roots to the early days of Christian Rome.
The first of the three fountains that you’ll probably notice in the piazza is the central fountain that leads up to the magnificent Palace of the Senators. Although originally planned by Michelangelo when he laid out designs for the piazza, the fountain was only constructed in the reign of Sixtus V who diverted a water supply from the Acqua Felice that could then supply a fountain. Original plans had decreed that this fountain would contain the figure of Jove as its centerpiece, instead it was built around the figure of Minerva who stands as the figurehead of Rome. Minerva’s statue has partly been restored in modern times but the torso was brought to Rome from Cori so it is actually of great historical significance.
In front of the Minerva fountain you’ll find a fountain decorated with the sculptures of two river gods. These statues are actually of significant historical interest – unlike many lost treasures they have survived without burial in all the turbulent times since Rome’s downfall. Initially they were located in front of Aurelian’s Temple of the Sun and they have since moved around various settings in Rome before settling in their current location. Like the Palace of the Senators before which they stand, much of this fountain is constructed of travertine and this fountain really does meld into the magnificent building seamlessly.
You’ll find the third fountain in the Piazza del Campidoglio in the gardens of the Palazzo dei Conservatori. This fountain has barely earned its name as it is actually more of a basin with an unusual sculpture attached. The sculpture, which was added to the square in 1903, shows a lion feasting on a horse that it has hunted down. Although this fountain may not look significant the sculpture itself is of real historical import. If you look closely at the lion you’ll note that it appears to show the effects of being exposed to water for long periods – it was actually discovered in the River Almo more than a thousand years ago although its history before that remains a mystery.
Garden fountains come in a huge variety of decorative styles, from ornately carved wall fountains to floating pond fountains. If you’re looking for a way to bring a soothing ambiance to the sanctuary of your backyard or patio, then a water fountain can be a wonderful feature. The sight and sound of flowing water can have a lovely soothing effect, helping to wash away the stresses and strains of daily life. An outdoor fountain can become a stunning focal point of your garden design. The gentle trickling sound can help drown out the sound of the city and create a peaceful and inspiring environment.
Outdoor water fountains run on either an electric pump or solar power. They come in a range of sizes and styles, to suit all kinds of garden themes. Tiered cascades, birdbaths, wall mounted and traditional pedestal designs are some of the many options available. Designs based on mythical figures, animals and cherubs are popular, as are more contemporary designs. Having a pond fountain not only adds to the atmosphere of relaxation and calm, but also helps keep the water circulating and prevents it from becoming stagnant.
Patio fountains and waterfalls are sought after by many people looking to reduce stress levels and wishing to create an oasis of calm in their own backyard. Water fountains have been features of gardens throughout history in many cultures, and the soothing effects of flowing water have long been recognized. For instance, according to the principles of Feng Shui, moving water in certain areas of a garden can help activate beneficial chi energy.
If you’re looking to transform your garden or patio into a relaxing retreat, then a water fountain could be just what you need to add that touch of serenity and calm.