Warmonger, womanizer, and autocrat, Louis XIV may also have been history's most fanatical gardener. At Versailles, twelve miles outside Paris, France's self-styled "Sun King" created not only Europe's most lavish palace, but, beginning in 1661, the most extensive gardens the Western world has ever seen. Assisting Louis in this enterprise was the low-born gardener André Le Nôtre, whose character and temperament were as different from those of his sovereign as it is possible to conceive. Where Louis was ruthless and relentlessly driven, Le Nôtre was down to earth, witty and amiable – and also phenomenally talented. While Louis could strike fear into the highest in the land with just a look, Le Nôtre enjoyed the king's trust and friendship for more than 40 years.