Ferme ornée means “ornamented farm” and is a historical term for gardens designed partly for aesthetic principles and partly for farming. Unlike traditional 17th century formal gardens, the ferme ornée combined the cultivation of farm crops and the raising of domestic animals with statuary, flowing water, flower borders, and inspirational framed views.
Made popular in the 18th century by Stephen Switzer, early examples could be found at Kew Garden, Woburn Farm, the Dessau Wörlitz Garden Realm, and le Petit Hameu, in Versailles. Surviving examples of ferme ornée include Larchill Garden in Ireland, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, in Charlottesville, VA.
Edible landscaping, with its equal focus on design and productivity, could be considered the modern equivalent to ferme ornée. However, it is the classical and extravagant nature of ferme ornée that distinguishes the harmony between what is useful and what is pleasurable.
Borrowing the words that Horace, the ancient Latin poet, used to describe poetry, Switzer states the aim of the ferme ornée:
To instruct and delight.