Audio tour of the Italian and French Formal Gardens of Rotary Botanical Gardens by volunteer tour guide, Chuck Smith.
People have had gardens since the time long past when they began to settle in groups and ceased being nomadic hunter-gatherers. These gardens were the beginnings of present-day agriculture and were needed for survival.
Formal gardens for pleasure and enjoyment date from the 1500’s when people of wealth and power had the means to create them.
Any formal garden has three features in common: A geometrical layout, a water feature, and statuary. Our Formal Gardens are laid out along an axis from the Cottage Garden to the fountain in the pond.
Our Italian Garden is the most formal of the gardens here at Rotary Botanical Gardens. The partiered beds are hedged in boxwood and each end is a mirror image of the opposite. One end is planted with perennials and the other with annuals. The four statues represent the four seasons and the Koi pond serves as a water feature. Koi originated in Japan; the name derives from a Japanese expression for “Swimming Flowers”. They can live quite a long time, as much as 250 years.
Our French Garden, named because of the many roses grown here and the association of roses with things French and with perfume. (In 1867,William H. Tallman, a local pharmacist, entered some of his perfumes in an International Exposition in Paris and was awarded a medal!) The circular beds, which give the garden it’s geometric shape, contain specimens of hardy shrub roses that thrive with minimal care.
There are also some examples of the hybrid tea roses and behind the pergola are examples of the floribunda-type rose. This area forms a perfect setting for a formal wedding with the bride and her attendants standing under the pergola with the fountain in the back-ground and guests seated on the lawn.
In addition, there is an Herb Garden placed along the arbor vitae hedge to the south of the Italian Garden. This garden is tended by the Janesville Herb Society and has separate beds for aromatic, medicinal and culinary herbs.