Elizabeth Pye’s Historical Fiction Writing Inspiration
Chateau gardens with their 17th and 18th Century French designs are intriguing for a historical romance author seeking historical fiction writing inspiration. Flowers have existed throughout the ages, and we are still admiring them. Look through Pinterest or find a book on the history of gardens for inspiration to write.
Gardens for Historical Fiction Writing Inspiration
The following list shows the types of gardens that were popular in 17th and 18th Century French chateau gardens. Similarly, American gardens of today continue to favor these same styles.
- kitchen gardens
- formal gardens
- water gardens
Garden inspiration certainly affects the muse in writing The French Connection historical fiction series. Love pictures of flowers? Then you’re invited to discover additional garden-inspired short posts, including personally photographed flower pictures, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lizpyebooks/.
A Garden Fit for a King
Le Potager du Roi – the King’s Kitchen Garden – provided fruit and vegetables for King Louis XIV in Versailles in the 17th century. This grand garden included 50 varieties of pears and 20 varieties of apples and was produced by a lawyer, Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie. He created methods of producing fruit and vegetables out of season.
France’s first pineapples were produced at the Potager in the 1730s. However, the garden became a school for horticulture and landscape architecture with the French Revolution. Now the National School of Landscape Architecture runs the Potager and has “400 varieties of fruit tree(s) grown in 68 different shapes…, 450 varieties of fruit and vegetables – and just nine gardeners.”
Trees provided barriers to wind and harsh weather in the 17th and 18th centuries and still serve the same purpose today. For this reason, fruit trees were placed along the walls.
Kitchen gardens consisted of vegetables that could be preserved for winter. Herbs provided flavor, medicinal, perfume use, and helped in discouraging insects from destroying plants.
The Gardens of Brécy
Brécy, an example of the 17th Century formal garden, is located in France, close to the English Channel. Brécy is characteristic of garden settings chosen for The French Connection Series. According to the editors of francetoday.com, the village is located five miles south of Gold Beach. However, in spite of Brécy being directly in the path of the Allies’ advance in June 1944, it was not bombed.
The editors of Francetoday.com describe the Basse-Normandie area beautifully. “Because it is partially hidden in its own diminutive vale, the visitor happens upon Brécy unexpectedly—the surprise factor is spellbinding, and the visual seduction is immediate.”
The setting of the first book in The French Connection Series, Silk or Sugar, took place in the French Revolution era. Next in the series is the second book, Return to Chateau Fleury, which takes place over two hundred years after the French Revolution. Currently, the third book of the series is the work-in-progress, Mon Amour, Friend or Foe, and is set in the World War II era. See how the history of Brécy and its garden symmetry would be fascinating for this third book of The French Connection?
The Gardens of Versailles (Jardins du château de Versailles)
The Gardens of Versailles “occupy part of what was once the Domaine royale de Versailles, the royal demesne of the château of Versailles.” Financial status determined the size and vegetable choices of the garden. Because the nobility could afford extravagance, the best vegetable plants and rare ornamental flowers were planted in their gardens. On the other hand, small peasant gardeners used the least expensive fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The following quote reveals how expansive the Versailles palace gardens were. “Palace records from 1686 show that the Palace used 20,050 jonquil bulbs, 23000 cyclamen, and 1700 lily plants.”
The nobility showed off their luxurious chateau gardens, and large landowners hired farmhands to maintain their gardens. However, the rural peasants shared community gardening resources. “All the peasants in a rural farming area required the community to exist,” Elizabeth Aaker wrote in a study on 18th Century French Peasantry communities.
Need Historical Fiction Writing Inspiration? Grow a Garden.
Grow a small kitchen garden or design a beautiful landscape with formal symmetry. This can be done without going overboard on a budget. Take the time to plant a garden. Above all, enjoy its beauty.
In today’s society, you don’t have to own a palace to grow the best vegetables, flowers, or garden. Participate in a community garden or grow a tiny kitchen garden if you’re limited on space. As long as you can afford the water bill or live in an area with plenteous rain, you have the freedom to grow any size of garden that appeals to you. In any case, gardening brings joy to those who love nature and is a great choice for a hobby.
Again, If you’re searching for something to inspire you as a writer of historical fiction, grow a garden. Attract readers of your genre who garden as a hobby. Historical fiction inspiration depends on authors’ hobbies. Gardening, incidentally, is a great hobby to choose for inspiration as well as for health purposes. After all, who can ignore the beauty and breathtaking scents of an ornate flower garden?
Chateau Garden-Inspired Return to Chateau Fleury Illustration
Look at the quote below from Return to Chateau Fleury. Next, notice the style of speech as well as the 17th or 18th Century chateau garden setting.
A gentleman, dressed as a tree, offered one of his branches to Helene and bowed before her. ‘Mademoiselle, may I escort you to the garden for a breath of fresh air . . . and whatever the evening may bring?’
Helene disengaged her arm from his grasp. ‘I’m not feeling botanical tonight,’ she said emphatically and turned away from him to Marie.
“La vie est une fleur dont l’amour est le miel.” – Victor Hugo
English translation: “Life is a flower of which love is the honey.”
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