Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
Plants, flowers, and trees were Marie-Antoinettes passion; she transformed the Petit Trianons gardens into an enchanted escape from the oppressive shackles of Versailles. Based on archival documents, this book includes descriptions of the cosmetic and medicinal uses of the gardens plants, anecdotes from the royal court, and watercolors of the herbarium that capture the ambiance of Marie-Antoinettes reign. The queens beloved tuberose, imported from Mexico, was used to ease anxiety but was also considered to have such potent powers in awakening erotic desire that young women were forbidden to walk in tuberose fields at night. Grape leaves were used in a concoction for lightening skin in the fashion of the day, but we also learn that it was thought that a womans presence in a wine cellar could spoil the drink. This fascinating reconstruction meanders through Marie-Antoinettes estate, as the queen herself would have walked it: traversing hyacinths, buttercups, and anemones in the French Gardens, via winding paths in the Anglo-Chinese Gardens, through the conifers of the Belvedere Gardenswhere fabulous nocturnal parties were hostedpast the entrancing aromas of the shrubs surrounding the Temple of Love, to the wildflowers of the Garden of Solitude.