The Palace of Versailles, just 10 miles east of the Eifel Tower in Paris, has many claims to fame: from the fabulous Hall of Mirrors to the Apollo Fountain and much more besides. The Palace and landscaped gardens were designed primarily by André Le Nôtre for King Louis XIV (1638-1715), known as the Sun King. Here we look at the magnificent Versailles Orangery and its unique planter designs, now replicated by ORNAMENTI.

The original Orangery at Versailles was built in 1663 by Louis le Vau. Perfectly positioned, it faces south and is sheltered from wind by its position below the South Parterre. Twenty years later, Jules Hardouin-Mansart doubled the length and breadth of the original Orangery, creating a central gallery over 150m long with a 13m high vaulted ceiling and two side galleries. Completed in 1684-86, the walls are 4m-5m thick, helping to prevent temperatures in winter dropping below 5°C. There is no need for heating.

To stock the Orangery, it is recorded that Louis XIV gathered together all the orange trees from the royal houses across France whilst also acquiring many new trees, with courtiers offering the King their own orange trees to keep in favour at Court. One notable “donor” was Louis XIV’s disgraced Finance Minister, Nicholas Fouquet, whose 1,000 orange trees at Vaux-le-Vicomte were confiscated by the Crown and transferred to Versailles. Although many trees did not survive their journey to Versailles, the Orangery was soon able to boast the largest collection in Europe. Today, orange trees from Italy, Portugal, Spain are still housed in the Orangery during the winter before being moved outside in summer, contained within unique planters to facilitate this annual migration.

The design for the original Versailles Planter is reputed to have been by Jean-Baptiste de La Quintinie and André Le Nôtre. Today, inspired by the famous antique planters, ORNAMENTI offers exquisite Versailles-style planters in three standard sizes that are both beautiful and practical to own. These exquisite planters are ideal for practically all types of planted trees and shrubs, not just orange trees! Like the originals, the sturdy steel frame of ORNAMENTI’s Versailles Planters is designed to take the weight of a heavy plant or tree whilst their large capacity provides the right conditions for growth and the necessary space for the free development of the root system. Also like the originals, ORNAMENTI’s ingenious Versailles Planter design allows for all side walls to be easily removed so soil can be replaced and the root balls inspected – vital if investing in expensive plants and trees and want to ensure they survive and thrive long-term. Plants and trees can be planted or removed from one side.

Unlike the Versailles originals, all visible metal elements are painted with a zinc primer and powder coated for protection. There is also a heavy-duty mesh base is made of galvanised steel to ensure effective drainage and proper root aeration. Any wood elements are fully treated and painted or varnished to ensure longevity. These planters, like the originals, are built to last and are both robust and heavy. If you want to move them into a greenhouse or other location for Winter, once planted you will need to use a forklift or pallet truck. Alternatively, if you don’t want to move the entire planter, you can remove one or more sides to remove the plant, leaving the planter box where it is before replanting in Spring.

ORNAMENTI offers Versailles Planters in three standard sizes: Small Versailles Planter, Versailles Planter and Large Versailles Planter. ORNAMENTI can supply Versailles Planters in any colour from the RAL palette, making the designs ideal for use by professional designers as well as private individuals. Each Versailles Planter is made to order.

As an alternative, ORNAMENTI also offers Château Planters in three standard sizes: Small Château Planter, Château Planter and Large Château Planter. These are held in stock in an attractive sage green colour with removable side panels faced with Accoya wooden slats.

ORNAMENTI is proud to have recently supplied four Versailles Planters to a famous royal residence of King Charles III.