Why are garden follies so magical? These tiny structures have captivated our imaginations for centuries, and helped us get lost in beautiful landscapes.
If you’re curious what constitutes a folly- there isn’t a precise definition. Folly architecture is more “you know it when you see it”.
Follies are ornamental and whimsical, and one thing is for sure – a Folly truly has no real purpose. It’s simply there for enjoyment!
The term drawn from the French word “Folie” which has connotations of silliness or delight. These “showpiece structures” are sometimes even made to look much older than they are. They often represent difficurent historic or cultural eras, or suggest they serve a purpose (which they don’t really)!
Here are some of the most fantastic follies from across the world for you to visually explore!
1. The Dunmore Pineapple – Scotland
The odd yet aesthetically pleasing “Dunmore Pineapple” is one Scotland’s most remarkable landmarks. Appearing ancient, and strangely modern at the same time, it enchants thousands of visitors each year.
It was built in 1761 by the Earl of Dunmore as a birthday present for his wife Susan. They used it as a summerhouse to check out the views of their exotic gardens – where they grew (eccentric for the time) fruits and veggies, including – you guessed it – pineapples!
2. Temple of the Four Winds, Castle Howard – England
At The Grand Country Estate Castle Howard, the “Temple of the Four Winds” commands stunning views across the rolling hills.
Unfinished when the designer Vanbrugh died in 1726, it was later completed with incredible frescos. From there, the Temple became a place for relaxation and reading. It even makes an appearance in the beloved period drama “Bridgerton” where it’s used for -ahem- other purposes 😉.
3. The Summer House At Woolbeding Gardens – England
The quaint structure at Woolbeding Gardens has something going for it that not many other garden follies do. It’s sitting on top of a beautiful waterfall!
Surrounded by woodland gardens, this garden folly is made to look like a ruined Abbey with intricate Gothic windows. It’s is lovingly called “The Summer House with a perfect scenic lake view to enjoy in the sun.
4. Belvedere Castle – New York
The “Belvedere,” which means “beautiful view” in Italian is one of the highest points in Central park. The vistas are made more complete with it’s very own mini castle!
Completed in 1872, it was originally designed by Central Park co-designer Calvert Vaux and architect Jacob Wrey Mould as an open air lookout tower. The Belvedere Castle Folly appears as if it emerges right out of the Vista Rock below it, and park visitors can get prime views of the surrounding landscapes.
5. Casino at Marino – Ireland
The Casino at Marino in Dublin is debatably described as a folly – but since it’s a pleasure house it certainly deserves a spot on this list!
This Neoclassical splendor was finished around 1775, and the term ‘casino’ means ‘little house’. Though it looks compact from the outside, unlike a typical folly, it contains 16 finely decorated rooms!
6. Dunsborough Park Bridge Folly – England
Dunsborough Park in Surrey features 100-acres of magnificent gardens. It’s crowning jewel of the magical Water Gardens has long been this charming Folly bridge.
Designed by W Braxton Sinclair in 1939 for Sir Oliver Simmons, the bridge structure is incredibly enchanting with Rhododendrons and Wisteria that settle it in the landscape.
7. Temple of Apollo at Stourhead – England
The centerpiece of the any great garden is usually a water feature. Yet, the lake at Stourhead Garden gets some help from one of the world’s most beautiful garden follies!
The impressive circular temple of Apollo was designed by Notable architect Henry Flitcroft in 1765. Dedicated it to the god of the sun, it’s nestled into the hilltop to give visitors the perfect view over the lake.
8. Tartar Tent, Château de Groussay – France
The Tartar Tent is a fanciful garden folly in France, made to look like a fabric tent! In fact it’s actually made of painted metal – inspired by another stylish tent structure at the Drottningholm castle.
With all the mystique of an ancient building, can you believe it’s from the 1960’s? The interior is also lined with 10,000 beautiful blue and white Delft tiles, creating the most magical atmosphere.
9. Temple of Diana, Villa Borghese – Rome
Last but not least on this list of fabulous garden follies is the Temple of Diana in Villa Borghese. This enchanting circular temple was built in Neo-classical style by Antonio Asprucci in 1789.
A life-sized marble statue of Diana, Goddess of the Hunt used to sit inside. Now, the scenes of nature depicted on the ceiling remain to represent her spirit. I especially adore the fanciful pinecones adorning the top of the Folly – one of the symbols of the Eternal city!
I hope you enjoyed following along on this list of beautiful garden follies from across the world! Which one’s of these beautiful structures will end up on your bucket list?
Looking for more gorgeous garden inspiration? Check out a few of my favorites places to get garden eye candy!