• Maureen Little

A Musical Garden Tour

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: ‘The only thing that is constant is change.’

Indeed, things have changed since I started my blog back in March. So much so, that I am reducing the number of posts to one a week for the foreseeable future. This is due an increase in my workload – an exciting new design project and, hopefully, a book.

I shall continue with my ‘Bee Plant of the Month’, focussing on plants that benefit our buzzy friends and apart from those there will be just three (or possibly four) other posts a month and these will be about my usual topics – flowers, perhaps a vegetable, a general point of interest.

Thank you to everyone who reads my posts – if no-one did, it wouldn’t be worth it!

So for the first of my reduced number of posts I thought I would take you on a musical garden tour.

As some of you know I present a classical music show on our local radio. (‘A Little Classical Music’, Sundays, 4–6pm on Ribble FM, listen live at www.ribblefm.com. 'A Little Classical Music' is also available as a podcast - search in any of your podcast apps.)

Each week I have a theme or two which are useful hooks on which to hang my choice of music. One week I paired a number of famous gardens with pieces of classical music that I thought would bring to mind the feelings that these gardens might evoke. So I thought now, with travel restrictions in place, was a good time to virtually visit these world-famous gardens in my blog.

So here we have six gardens and the music I chose to go with them. (In each case, click on the youtube link to listen to the music.)

The first two pieces were actually written about particular gardens, so I didn’t have any work to do with these.

For the first piece of my music and gardens theme I'd like to take you to Spain and the Alhambra, and in particular the water-garden courtyard which features a long pool framed by flowerbeds and fountains: probably the most photographed part of the extensive gardens. And the music? What else but Memories of the Alhambra by Tárrega.


Now let's visit the lush meadows of England to listen to The Wildflower Meadow from the Highgrove Suite by Patrick Hawes which was written to celebrate HRH Prince Charles's gardens at Highgrove. The composer says of it: ‘The Wildflower Meadow is a ‘paean’ of joy, sometimes tinged with nostalgia and a sense of wonder. Here the garden is at its most free – free to rejoice in its own shapes, textures and colours and relatively free to grow without man’s interference.’ (https://www.patrickhawes.com/2016/12/05/highgrove-suite/)

Listen to the link and see what you think.


To France now and Versailles, and the gardens laid out by Andre le Notre at the behest of Louis XIV in the 17th century. The gardens are formal and regimented but I can imagine quite a few liaisons and intrigues being carried out behind those hedges clipped to within an inch of their lives - so I have chosen Palladio by Karl Jenkins which conjures up in my mind scurrying servants and glimpses of masked courtiers ….


From Europe to Japan to the famous Ryoan-ji garden of Kyoto. It's a sparse garden with carefully placed rocks, attentively raked gravel - and very little else. It invites, almost demands, contemplation and meditation, so I've chosen Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium, which I think fits the bill perfectly.


Back to Europe again: Italy in fact, to visit the gardens at Villa d'Este at Tivoli near Rome. Here we find fountains and more fountains playing in the sunshine, especially on a hot summer's day - so I've chosen a piece by Vivaldi, who’s Italian of course, and the 1st movement of Summer from his Four Seasons Suite.


Let's head back to France to Monet's garden at Giverny. Monet was an Impressionist painter who created his garden to inspire his work - which in turn inspired many other artists of all persuasions. Debussy was a contemporary of Monet and although he hated the term impressionistic when it was applied to his music, it does have some of the qualities, like the blurring of edges and the creation of new harmonies, that echo the soft edges and changing light of Monet's paintings. So here is a piece from Debussy’s Petite Suite to conjure up a stroll around Monet's beautiful garden.


So, there we have it - a musical tour around some of the most famous gardens in the world. I hope you enjoyed it!

I shall leave this post with a reminder about the give-away!


To mark my golden blog anniversary (on 29th July), I thought I would give away a pair of Burgon and Ball Flower and Fruit Snips. (Ok, they’re not exactly golden, but they’re worth their weight in gold in the garden!) All you have to do is join my mailing list by the 31st August 2020 – just fill in the panel at the bottom of the page – and a name will be picked at random on 1st September. If you have already joined my mailing list, your name will be automatically entered into the draw – you do not need to sign up again.

Please note: this give-away is not sponsored.