This new feature is designed to inspire you to look at the world around you, to take note of the season at hand and to capture it – in memory or on film – for posterity. I will be choosing five photos each week for with this aim in mind. We’re calling the feature, The Five Most Beautiful Things In The World This Week



The Sculpted Garden

Most of us grew up knowing of at least one garden. Perhaps it was your mother’s, or your grandmother’s, or maybe it was a public garden at a nearby park or monument. For the next few issues of “Five Most Beautiful Things” I’m going to bring images of gardens that have inspired me, artistically and philosophically. I will group them by type or theme so that the whole spectrum of garden design is covered.

The first installment is the sculpted garden – trees and shrubs that have been manipulated and pruned to conform to the gardener’s whims. This extremely disciplined form of gardening takes incredible skill, plenty of determination and an absolute commitment to maintenance. The idea of shaping natural elements to conform to human design has its roots in ancient Japanese culture. The idea was to create an aesthetic that felt controlled and therefore soothing to the mind, inspiring contemplation and reflection.

During the Renaissance, formal gardening was in vogue throughout much of Europe as well, especially in Italy and France where a burgeoning community of influential artists and designers were espousing the virtues of discipline and craftsmanship. The English followed suit. Soon, the formal and well-manicured garden became the preeminent sign of wealth and aristocracy, and by extension, culture and intelligence.

The photos below are not all traditional formal gardens. Some are contemporary interpretations of the ideal, mostly from European settings. While I could never maintain such a garden, I do find them pleasing to the eye: restive and comforting with their curated, monochromatic lines and spheres.



1.       A 17th Century garden at Hatfield House in England
2.       A reflecting pool in East Hampton
3.       Gardens of the Chateau de Marqueyssac in France
4.       A Cliffside sculpted garden in Italy
5.       A modern sculpted garden in Thailand


Andrew Ritchie is the creator of Martha Moments, a blog devoted Martha-Stewart related content and her community of supporters. He lives and works in Toronto, Canada, and has been a longtime friend of Brent & Josh, Beekman 1802 and Sharon Springs. Each week he’ll scour the world (wide web) to find the 5 most beautiful things to inspire you. Follow Andrew on Pinterest.

by Andrew

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These are fun and, I agree, Suessian. But for me, the best shapes are the lines the bushes and plants choose for themselves. Our town is filled with forsythia and it always looks strange to me when gardeners try to prune them; they look so spectacular and wild when left alone. Like Brent’s hair. Which I also love. Some things should not be tamed 🙂

teri tighe

Love the reflecting pool!!!

the Italy garden makes me dizzy but still pretty. I love when folks get creative with shrubbery.


Gardening with a touch of whimsy…a little Dr Suess-ish. Love it! Thanks for sharing!