As spring arrives and the world around us is in bloom, we are thinking about the stunning gardens at the Palace of Versailles and looking forward to the day – hopefully soon – when we can visit again.
The Queen’s Grove at Versailles, in particular, is a special place with French-American ties. Installed between 1665 and 1666, and enhanced in 1677, the garden that was originally called Labyrinth Grove featured 39 fountains that represented the animals of Aesop’s fables. Unfortunately, these features were destroyed when the garden was replanted between 1775 and 1776 and became the garden we are more familiar with today, the Queen’s Grove. This ornamental garden was created especially for Queen Marie-Antoinette. The layout of the grove is where the American connection comes into play. A central feature was a tree newly introduced to France at the time – and the Queen’s favorite tree – the Virginia tulip tree.
The tulip tree is native to the eastern United States. It can live for up to 500 years and grow to a height of over 160 feet. It is distinct for its heavily perfumed tulip-shaped flowers and broad leaves, which turn red and gold in autumn.
The garden deteriorated in the 19th and 20th centuries, but the Palace of Versailles is in the process of restoring the Queen’s Grove using paths and plants as they appeared in the 18th century. This will include replanting Virginia tulip trees.
The Palace of Versailles has always had close ties with the history of the United States of America. The U.S. was recognized as a nation in 1777 at Versailles. With that longstanding friendship in mind, we aim to support the efforts of the Palace to restore the Queen’s Grove.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can make a tax-deductible contribution to support the Queen’s Grove restoration effort, please contact Debra Dunn, Executive Director of the French-American Cultural Foundation, at firstname.lastname@example.org.