March 2018 Issue 37
Review RESTORING A RUSSIAN ESTATE PORTUGUESE WATER FEATURES SAVED
THE VOICE OF HISTORIC PARKS AND GARDENS WORLDWIDE
Viewpoint Roosevelt’s Antiquities Act at Risk
merica’s landscape heritage is not immune to President Trump’s ‘populist’ crusade. His latest target is President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1906 Antiquities Act. This Act gave authority to Roosevelt to designate National Monuments on federally owned land, much of which was and is in the western US. An avid conservationist, Roosevelt grew impatient with parochial resistance to protecting places and landscapes as irreplaceable parts of America’s cultural legacy. Under the Act, with a bold stroke of a pen, presidents could quickly protect signiﬁcant sites and landscapes, for appreciation and enjoyment by millions of people. Roosevelt used the Act to protect 18 monuments. His successors have designated another 152. For many, designation has been the ﬁrst step toward National Park status. Now Trump seems determined to eviscerate the Act and open federal land within National Monuments to more mining, fossil-fuel and timber production, and ranching. This threatens millions of acres of archaeological sites, irreplaceable historic and scenic landscapes, biological treasures, geological landmarks and fragile marine reserves. Undermining the Act by requiring prior Congressional and state approval for National Monuments would make nature conservation and cultural site preservation much more diﬃcult. Major shrinkage of designated monuments would give future anti-conservation ideologues a major weapon. Battling this threat has brought conservation and historic preservation groups together to speak for the 96 per cent of Americans who favour publicly owned and accessible conservation lands and historic landmarks. Supporters range from garden clubs and landscape architects keen to preserve the horticultural riches and designed elements of the monuments to Native American tribes, for whom some of the sites are sacred. More than 2.4 million public comments have been submitted to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s review of 27 monuments. In August 2017 Zinke recommended to Trump that six recent designations be reduced in size and four undergo management changes, mostly to accommodate industry. In November, the President trumpeted his initial decision: to roll back two of the largest monuments, both in southern Utah: Bears Ears by 85 per cent and Grand Staircase/Escalante by 45 per cent. Details of Secretary Zinke’s remaining recommendations are awaited. The Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the strongest US environmental watchdogs, is suing on the grounds that the President lacks authority to undo previous monument designations. Many other organisations will support these suits, which are likely to occupy federal courts for years. Current attempts by the Republican Congress to weaken the 1906 Act and to conﬁrm Trump’s decisions by legislative vote will outrage those who value the Act. We must hope that these suits bring delay beyond the 2018 Congressional elections, which could leave Trump with less support for his anti-conservation goals. Wesley T. Ward, Former Conservation Director, Trustees of Reservations, Massachusetts
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Issue 37 March 2018 34
Features 6 Politics and Pleasure
by Mark Lutyens Meeting the needs of visitors whilst respecting the site as a royal residence made the redesign of Hillsborough Castle a fascinating challenge.
11 Bathed in Beauty by Cristina Castel-Branco A grant from Norway has allowed ancient water features in gardens across Portugal to be returned to their former glory.
20 Growing Green Fingers by Linden Groves Idealistic views of children’s gardening continue to charm – but are not always matched by reality.
by Wesley T. Ward
4 News and Views 15 Flying Visits Lynne Walker leads a group of Australian enthusiasts on a tour of gardens on New Zealand’s South Island.
30 Anniversary: Remembering a Great Soul Jill Sinclair explores some of the memorials to Gandhi erected in the 70 years since his death.
38 Garden Review Le Jardin Exotique et Botanique, France by Janet Ravenscroft
24 Saving Muromtsevo by Olga Minochkina, translated by Sophie Seifalian After years of neglect, the prospects are looking brighter for a future star of Russia’s Golden Ring.
34 “This Little Paradise”
40 Book Reviews 42 Optimist & Pessimist Good and Bad reports from all over the world.
by Josepha Richard A study of aviaries offers an intriguing glimpse into cultural exchanges between 18th- and 19th-century China and the world.
46 Letters 47 How to Subscribe
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THE HISTORIC GARDENS FOUNDATION 34 River Court, Upper Ground, London SE1 9PE, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7633 9165 Registered Charity: Number 1044723 Registered Company: Number 3024664 ISSN 1461-0191 Website: www.historicgardens.org Email: oﬃce@historicgardens.org Printed by: Lavenham Press, Suﬀolk. Cover: The 17th-century cloister pool at the Convento do Bom Sucesso, Lisbon.
News and Let’s Drink to That! Last year was a year of hurricanes, and hurricanes are no respecters of historic gardens. Hurricane Irma raged from 30 August to 16 September 2017, breaking a number of records, and amongst its victims were the historic gardens of Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Florida. In the early years of the 20th century the Cummer family, who had made a fortune in timber, built three mansions along the banks of Florida’s St Johns River, and Arthur and Ninah Cummer created a series of magniﬁcent gardens, calling in top landscapers to assist them. ey started with an English Garden
by Ossian Cole Simonds and moved on to a spectacular Italian Garden by Ellen Biddle Shipman with reﬂecting pools framing the view to a ﬁcus-covered gloriette inspired by the Villa Gamberaia in Tuscany. When Ninah Cummer died in 1961 she bequeathed her property and art collections to create a museum. An adjacent Cummer property contained an Olmsted Garden and this became part of the museum’s estate in 1992. Hurricane Irma gave the gardens a good pasting and the entire site was submerged for over a day. A restoration fund was set up to repair the damage
and Jacksonville’s Bold City Brewery approached the museum oﬀering to help. e upshot was the creation of a brand new beer – but not any old beer. e museum and the brewers came up with a recipe which would reﬂect the ﬂora of the garden. Cummer is famous for its roses so rose hips and petals had to be included, but the glory of the garden is the Cummer Oak with its 150 feet (45m) canopy. So, amazingly, a block of oak forms part of the recipe. A good part of the proceeds of the beer’s sale will go to the restoration fund. And the beer’s name? Avant Gardener!
Painting and Planting J.M.W. Turner inspired many later artists, particularly the Impressionists, and Mike Leigh’s 2014 ﬁlm Mr Turner brought the man himself to a wider audience; but the house he designed, perhaps with his friend Sir John Soane’s help, fell into decay, as did its garden.
e 2-acre site in Twickenham, west of London, that the painter bought in 1807 was then in the country and Turner saw it as a retreat from the noise of the capital. It was 1813 before the house, named Sandycombe Lodge, was built and he could move in with his elderly father. After he sold it in 1826 much of the long triangular garden, which Turner had also designed, was built on. Over the years, the house deteriorated, not helped by the roots of yew trees planted too close to its walls. e house was restored and opened to the public in 2017, and now the garden has been
completed and will oﬃcially reopen this spring. Although the site is much smaller than in Turner’s day, the design has been informed by a drawing (left) made by William Havell in 1814 shortly after the house was built. e informal planting scheme has been a careful balancing act, looking at both historical precedent and today’s horticultural conditions. Spring will see a variety of historical bulbs including varieties of ‘broken’ or Rembrandt tulips, followed in May and June by roses chosen for their sweet scent and pink and white petals. See www.turnershouse.org. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Fighting for Authenticity What is authenticity and how far should we pursue it? If a park or garden was designed by a famous landscaper but has matured and evolved over the years, do you simply keep it refreshed or do you strip it back to the original design? This perennial dilemma is nicely illustrated by a controversy that has broken out in the aﬄuent town of New Canaan, Connecticut, which is the fortunate possessor of an Olmsted park. In the early years of the last century Lewis Lapham, the founder of the Texaco oil company, acquired the Waveny estate in New Canaan, building a large mansion and calling in John Charles Olmsted (one of the sons of the designer of Central Park, NY) to design the gardens. In 1967, Lapham’s daughter, Ruth Lapham Lloyd, gave the gardens to the municipality to be a public park, and the citizens now regard it as one of the town’s major assets.
Recently, the upper or ‘parterre garden’ was felt to be in need of remedial work and the New Canaan Garden Club produced a plan for the its redesign, involving new box trees and benches and some new shrubs in the north of the site. Pitted against the Club was a ﬁrm of landscape architects, Keith Simpson Associates, which proposed a return to the original Olmsted plans of 1914. The Club countered by pointing out that the gardens had been developed over the years by Mrs Lloyd with help from Olmsted’s successor practice. The National Association of Olmsted Parks urged caution, but in December 2017 the Town Council voted 7-3 in favour of the Simpson proposal. The bitter divisions over this restoration highlight the conﬂict so often confronting those with the care of historic parks and gardens.
Dairy Free? ere are sudden new signs of life at one of France’s most remarkable 18thcentury landscape gardens: Méréville, the country seat of marquis Jean-Joseph de Laborde, banker to the court of France, who met his end, like so many other great ﬁnanciers, on the guillotine. e gardens of Méréville were begun in 1784 and largely designed by François-Joseph Bélanger, the architect of Bagatelle. In 1786 Bélanger was succeeded by the landscape painter and designer Hubert Robert, who, in close cooperation with the marquis and a host of architects and sculptors, developed many remarkable fabriques, most notably the Laiterie, or ornamental dairy, and its temple – a remarkable reconstitution of the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli. By the late 19th century Méréville
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had fallen on hard times, and many of its most remarkable architectural features – the Rostral Column, the temple, the cenotaph for Captain Cook, and the façade of the Laiterie – were transported to the nearby domain of Jeurre, where they remain. e photo (right) shows the Laiterie being rebuilt at Jeurre. After a long period of neglect the estate was purchased in 2000 by the Département of the Essonne, but restoration progressed only in ﬁts and starts because of limited resources. In recent months, however, Méréville has been a hive of activity. In addition to a major planting campaign, the pathways have been reconstituted in their original positions, which has added a new sense of coherence to the site, and visually anchored its many
graceful bridges. Two of the bridges, long in a perilous condition, are also shortly to be restored, which will allow the public into many more areas than had previously been possible. From May 2018 visitors will once again be regularly welcomed into the garden. See www.tourisme-essonne.com.
Politics and Pleasure By Mark Lutyens
Meeting the needs of visitors whilst respecting the site as a royal residence made the redesign of Hillsborough Castle’s grounds a fascinating challenge.
illsborough Castle may sound defensive – all turrets and curtain walls – but it is in fact a comfortable, mainly 18th-century, golden-stone Georgian mansion in the town of Hillsborough, County Down. At 15 miles (25km) or so due south from Belfast, it is relatively close to the capital but set in rolling farm land. The only royal palace in Ireland, Hillsborough is where the British royal family and 6
dignitaries stay when visiting the province, and where the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is based. Many have loved it, not least Mo Mowlem, Secretary of State from 1997 to 1999, and the driving force behind the Good Friday Agreement. Mowlem’s ashes are scattered here. Hillsborough is living history. The castle’s north and east fronts face the town’s central HISTORIC GARDENS Review
square. It used to form two sides of the square in the middle of which is a pretty, cupola-topped court house but it is separated now by the Richhill Gates, a line of ornamental railings moved from nearby Richhill Castle in 1936. The other two fronts face the gardens and grounds to the south and west: 100 acres (about 40ha) of formal gardens, pleasure grounds and lakes, set within high walls. Management of the property passed recently from the Northern Ireland Office to HRP (Historic Royal Palaces, the organisation that manages Hampton Court, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Whitehall Palace and the Dutch House at Kew) who are preparing to re-open it to the public in 2019. To that end, they have embarked on an extensive programme of restoration and improvement with a view to attracting 250,000 or more visitors a year. In my role as a landscape architect, I have been advising on the garden works with the Irish designer and gardener Catherine FitzGerald from Glin Castle, Co. Limerick. Balancing the need to cater for so many visitors and to provide yearround attractions for all age groups and abilities whilst respecting the existing fabric and spirit of place has not been easy. Added to which, as the castle will continue to be a royal residence and host official ceremonies, the security issues are formidable. In all, it has been a fascinating challenge. There are, in fact, two castles at Hillsborough – the present house and the old fort on the other side of the central square, complete with its own park (now also managed by HRP) – linked by a lime avenue. The fort was a Cromwellian stronghold built by the Hill family, West Country adventurers who prospered, becoming some of the largest landowners in Ireland. The new house was built by Wills Hill (1718-93), Whig politician, Secretary of State for the Colonies (1768-82) and 1st Marquess of Downshire, whose high-handed attitude towards Benjamin Franklin was partly responsible for the loss of America. Subsequent marquesses enlarged the house and developed the grounds. After Irish partition in 1925, the British government bought it as a residence for
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
the Governors General, and, after 1972, it became home to the Secretaries of State for Northern Ireland. Hillsborough Castle’s most recent claim to fame was as the site of the Peace Agreement of 2010. The layout of the current gardens owes much to the history of its development. Layers of improvement and changing ownership over several hundred years – and very much continuing today – give it a rich texture. Because the town has grown around it, Hillsborough has never achieved the single Brownian vision its creator might have wished for. In 1810, James Webb (a partner of the more famous landscape gardener William Emes) produced plans, but they seem never to have been implemented. However, the intention was clear, and to that end a major public road was moved and part of the town demolished and relocated outside the new garden walls. But there remains a strong east-west axis, the famous Yew Tree Walk that dominates the south front, and an incongruous Quaker cemetery not far from the house. The formal gardens are, therefore, somewhat constrained but nevertheless manage to wrap around the house to create a series of rather grand spaces used for royal garden parties and other formal gatherings, including weddings and gun salutes. The smaller, more intimate, spaces soften the place and serve to remind one that this is still a house with a garden – and a home. These are the areas that Catherine FitzGerald and I have been working on for the last few years, mostly replanting but carrying out some structural works too, including removing the purple gravel on the South Terrace and replacing it with reclaimed Yorkstone paving, and creating a new pool and fountain in the Jubilee Parterre. A further ‘constraint’ – although this is what makes the Hillsborough grounds distinctive – is topographical. There is a substantial glen or valley running through the land, making it, in effect, a garden of two halves: on one side is the house and formal gardens; on the other is the Walled Garden. The two halves are divided by a deep ravine. In the glen is a river which, where the valley
Opposite page: A bird’s-eye view of Hillsborough Castle and gardens and their relationship to the town. (Historic Royal Palaces.) Left: The Jubilee Parterre used to be dominated by over-large Irish yews.
Politics and Pleasure
Left: New plantings on the South Terrace looking towards the south front of the house. Above: The William Byers 1788 plan of the estate upon which the restoration of the Walled Garden is based.
broadens, has been dammed to create a large lake. In its middle is an island or ‘crannog’ – one of those romantic island fortlets found throughout Scotland and Ireland. On it, are traces of a settlement which are thought to have been the medieval stronghold of the Magennis chiefs, one of the principal clans of County Down and ancestors perhaps of the late Martin McGuinness, recently Deputy First Minister. With its hard frosts and biting winds, this part of Northern Ireland can be cold, but the glen provides some protection, creating a microclimate in which acid-loving plants thrive. As a result, there are many fine old trees and the remains of a string of picturesque gardens and walks. In the coming years, the glen will be restored and improved. We have drawn up sketch plans and ideas based in part on a visual assessment of what is currently there. This includes landscape fragments (bridges, paths, rock features and landform) and the existing planting. We have also made a study of old maps and plans of the estate, which suggest the 8
character of what there was but lack enough detail to allow us to effect a full restoration. This has, in many ways, been very liberating, both for us as designers and for our clients. HRP is primarily a conservation organisation. Its dilemma, as for all modern bodies in the heritage business, is how to provide access for the many without destroying the thing that makes it special: how do you accommodate 250,000 visitors in a garden designed for a single family and friends? In addition there are statutory requirements to provide disabled access to most areas (namely wheelchair paths and ramps), car parking, a ticket office, lavatories and, in Hillsborough’s case, high levels of security. As luck would have it, part of the estate lies adjacent to the A1, the main Belfast to Dublin road. This is currently being turned into a large car park with a new sliproad off the main highway. Close to it will be the visitor centre – ticket office, café, loos, shop and a small children’s play area – all of it housed within the lower part of an old walled garden. This is being restored and will be the chief access point to the main gardens and castle. The Walled Garden, which opens again in 2019, will be one of the principal attractions. The original four walls remain, but the 5-acre enclosure (about 2ha) is otherwise more or less empty, grassed over and grazed occasionally by sheep. In its Edwardian heyday it was busy and industrious, with glass houses, hot houses, a kitchen garden, herbaceous borders and wall-trained fruit trees, a few of which still survive. The hot houses were some of the earliest in Ireland, producing grapes, pineapples, melons and other exotics. We HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Politics and Pleasure
Above: The master plan for the new Jubilee Parterre. Below: A view of the Jubilee Parterre taken from the house showing the new pool and plantings. All images courtesy of Lutyens Fitzgerald except where indicated.
will, however, be recreating the layout shown in the Byers map from 1788, albeit with a few adjustments to cater for modern demands. William Byers was a surveyor who was commissioned to make a map of the town, the castle and its grounds (known as the Great Park), and the new house (now Hillsborough Castle) and the land around it (known as the Small Park). It is an interesting document because it plots the moment when the family’s focus was shifting from the old house to the new; from the discomforts of the fort to the elegance and greater domesticity of a Georgian house. Originally, the entire area seems to have been cultivated but, for the time being, we plan to restore only the lower half. The upper half will become an orchard planted with Irish apple varieties chosen partly for the poetry of their names – Munster Tulip, Lady Fingers of Offaly, Irish Peach, Ross Nonpareil, Ballyfatten, Kilkenny Permain. Grafting material is being collected from all over Ireland and propagated. The current focus is on the infrastructure works (the car park and visitor centre) and restoration of the Walled Garden. However, there are two further ‘projects’ slowly being developed in parallel. The first is the making of the so-called Lost Garden in the upper part of the glen – a boggy, heavily wooded wilderness with steep sides. Along the length of the little winding river is a series of
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dilapidated sluices and cascades. Old maps show that there may have been quite extensive gardens here, and a single lofty Trachycarpus fortunei, Chusan palm, suggests the type of planting that there might once have been. Using these maps and some degree of imagination, we have designed new gardens with a distinctly exotic feel. We hope the plants with big, bold leaves and outlandish flowers, tall bamboos and mossy paths will appeal not only to serious plantsmen but to children, too, firing their imaginations and kindling a spark of curiosity. The predominant theme is the Southern Hemisphere, and a large part of the planting will consist of material collected from the Southern Hemisphere gardens at Grey Abbey on nearby Strangford Lough and grown on by Neil Porteous, head gardener at the famous Mount Stewart gardens in County Down. The cascades will be restored, paths made and bridges built. For the more adventurous, there will be a crannog or two and a warren of boardwalks to explore in the swamp. The second project relates directly to children’s play: not the formal kind provided by modern playgrounds, but wild, unstructured play that reconnects youngsters with nature and the world of make-believe. We have been working with Tim Gill of Rethinking Childhood (rethinkingchildhood.com), who has made a number of recommendations for the grounds at Hillsborough Castle, in particular for the remoter corners of the estate where the trees are thicker and wild things lurk. The great charm of Tim’s approach is that it is so simple and so unexpectedly obvious. In an age of increasing selfawareness and risk aversion, he encourages children to forget
Politics and Pleasure
Left: The sketch shows our idea for a crannog: a children’s feature for one of the swamp areas. Above: Our designs had to bear in mind Hillsborough’s royal and official function.
themselves and play using ‘found’ things, such as fallen branches and other natural materials. HRP, to their great credit, whilst an organisation that is necessarily risk averse, has been promoting Tim’s work across all its properties wherever possible. To conclude, Hillsborough Castle, which has known good times and bad, will shortly rise again bigger and better than before. And, as the visitor income starts to come in, it will, we hope, continue rising. Mark Lutyens is a landscape architect and garden designer based in London and West Somerset. He is the great, great
nephew of Sir Edwin Lutyens and a keen supporter of The Lutyens Trust, the charity that protects and conserves his work. (See http://www.lutyenstrust.org.uk.) The author wishes to thank Catherine FitzGerald whose sensitivity to the spirit of a place is unparalleled. Many thanks to Terence Reeves-Smyth, whose ‘Occasional Paper’ No. 1 (2015) for the Northern Ireland Heritage Gardens Trust, ‘Hillsborough Castle Demesne’ has been invaluable not only for this piece but for our work at Hillsborough more generally; and to Dr Christopher Warleigh-Lack, HRP curator at Hillsborough, for many of the illustrations.
Left: Attractive new plantings and paving replaced the original purple-gravelled sweep. 10
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Bathed in Beauty By Cristina Castel-Branco
A grant from Norway has allowed ancient water features in gardens across Portugal to be returned to their former splendour.
o help gardens survive during the dry months of May to September in Portugal we need to store water. But, when it rains, the intensity of the rainfall creates ﬂash ﬂoods that are almost subtropical. The care of water requires a strategic approach, which is evident in historic gardens. In 2006, the Portuguese Association of Historical Gardens and Sites (APJSH) was granted €1 million by EEA Grants (a mechanism of the European Economic Area, mainly ﬁnanced by Norway). Our submission was speciﬁcally for the “Restoration of Gardens’ Hydraulic Systems, Walls and Trails”, and the grant allowed us to reestablish ancient hydraulic systems and to improve other garden structures. The money was awarded over a ﬁve-year period for the restoration of twelve historic gardens spread across Portugal,
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including its Atlantic islands of the Azores and Madeira. The sites selected were representative of Portugal’s landscape art from the 14th to the 19th centuries and contained hydraulic structures really worthy of restoration. In the majority of the gardens, technical teams came across water-collection systems that were no longer operational or not working properly. This had led to a waste of natural resources and to higher costs due to the consumption of commercially supplied water. The twelve gardens were assigned a project director, affiliated to APJSH, who was a landscape architect experienced in restoration. The teams were coordinated by me (as APJSH President) and managed by Isabel Andrade. This article will concentrate on the two most expensive sites: the Fronteira gardens in Lisbon and the Hotel Quinta das Lágrimas in Coimbra, 200km (125 miles) north of the capital. 11
Bathed in Beauty I would like to begin by setting out four characteristics which, when found together, perfectly define the essence of Portuguese gardens: diversity of plants, open vistas, the use of decorative tiles and the presence of large water tanks. The diversity of flowering trees and shrubs is determined by history and by a climate that suits plants from temperate regions and subtropical zones. Both groups find a perfect habitat for growth and reproduction, allowing a multiplicity of flowers and foliage throughout the year. The 15th- and 16th-century explorations that opened up maritime routes to other continents are evident in the sheer variety of trees and shrubs that were introduced and acclimatised. Exotic novelties adapted well to Portuguese gardens and I have documented elsewhere the route of the sweet orange Citrus sinensis from China to India and finally to Lisbon around 1610. The Portuguese doctor Garcia de Orta described the fruit in Coloquio dos Simples e Drogas da India (1563), a catalogue of the medical uses of 200 plants found in India. The fruit is described as unexpectedly sweet in comparison to the bitter orange that we already had in the Iberian Peninsula. Philip II of Spain (who became King of Portugal in 1583) was so impressed that he sent samples to his children in Madrid: “They gave me the other day what I am sending to you now in this box. They told me that it’s a sweet lemon and though I think it is a kind of lemon, I wanted to send it to you because I never saw such a big one…” Once naturalised, sweet oranges joined other imported plants, such as the camellia from Japan, wisteria from China, Lagerstroemia indica and Melia azedarach (chinaberry) from India, Jacaranda mimosifolia and Aloysia citrodora (lemon verbena) from Brazil, and many others. The second characteristic, the view, is the result of accidents of topography and a system of urban settlement that favoured hilltops and grand vistas onto the sea or over valleys. Splendid views are practically a given for Portuguese historic gardens.
The history of this country determines the final two distinctive features: tiles (azulejos) and the large water pools we call tanques. Five hundred years of Islamic culture in the Iberian Peninsula have left their mark on decorative forms, especially in the use of tiles. These highly durable ceramic works of art surround pools and enhance fountains, niches, banks, stairways, summer houses, walls and turrets with their strong colours and geometrical patterns. Crucial to the survival of plants in summer, water was gathered from minas (subterranean canals) and extracted through lifting systems to be stored in closed cisterns and open tanks. After close contact with Indian culture (both Hindu and Mughal) in the 16th century, water was employed æsthetically before fulfilling its irrigation purpose. Large pools, beside pavilions decorated with colourful azulejos, stored water and deployed its qualities to create refined spaces of comfort and beauty. Hindu and Mughal cultures impressed Portuguese people living in Goa, Mumbai, Daman and Diu, enabling them to understand the garden as a space of enjoyment by day and by night. Properties commissioned by viceroys and nobility returning to Lisbon from Goa in the 16th century reflected the garden and architectural traditions seen in India. Both countries had a need to store large volumes of water, and in Hindu culture these pools became places of worship. Pavilions next to water channels, large marble pools and water jets are the essence of Mughal garden art. Architects and engineers, returning along with the governors and nobles, led to an adoption of Indian garden features that can still be seen in the gardens of Quinta da Penha Verde in Sintra (c1540), Quinta da Bacalhoa in Azeitão (c1550), the Nuncio’s garden at Quinta da Penha Longa in Sintra (c1560), Quinta das Torres in Azeitão (c1570), and Fronteira in Lisbon (c1660). At Fronteira, Italian, Islamic and Mughal garden art merge. Five members of the Mascarenhas family were governors and viceroys of India for three-hundred years from 1554 and brought Indian decoration into their garden. Don João de Mascarenhas created the Fronteira garden around 1660. Fernando Mascarenhas (1945-2014), Marquess of Fronteira, was an active member of the Historic Gardens
Previous page: The restored fountains and jets at the Fronteira summer house in 2011. Left: The ancient water system of Quinta da Boa Viagem, restored by the author and Maria Matos Silva.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Right: The new orange garden at Fronteira built for Fernando Mascarenhas, and designed by the author and Raquel Carvalho in 2010. Below left: The Casa de Juste pool at Quinta de Santo António, restored by Teresa Chambel in 2011. Below right: A canal at Fronteira, recycling water for irrigation after its use in jets and fountains.
Association and he was a co-applicant for the EEA Grant. The funds allowed us to restore the most distinctive example of this Indian-Portuguese link: the summer house adorned with embrechados on its inner vaults, tiles on its dome and numerous water features inside. (Embrechados are walls decorated with inlaid shells, coloured stones, broken porcelain and glass.) The cylindrical summer house is topped by a dome like those found on 16th-century Hindu mausoleums. In front of the summer house is a raised pool whose stone edges are intricately carved into four ‘S’ shapes. These distinctive shapes are also found in India’s Taj Mahal and the Red Fort in Agra, confirming the Mughal influence on this garden. The pool is surrounded by benches decorated with azulejos. During the restoration, my team rediscovered four jets hidden behind the benches, which were designed to spray water on unsuspecting visitors, much like the playful giochi in Italy. The jets, fed by a water tank on an upper terrace, have been restored and now function as intended, provided there is water in the upper tank.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Inside the summer house, we restored a stone table with a bubbling spout that creates a pleasant sound under the echoing dome. All these hydraulic features were designed to be powered by gravity and we were able to restore them without adding other sources of power. A new garden was commissioned by the Marquess and built on the lower terrace using water, azulejos, a strong geometric design and a large storage pool that recycles water from the summer house and restored fountains. Another of the twelve sites – the Quinta das Lágrimas in Coimbra – is now a 5-star hotel. Its 5ha (12-acre) garden is managed by the Inês de Castro Trust, which has two aims. The first is to find a solution to flooding that occurs when the River Mondego meets water running down the steep slopes surrounding the garden; and the second, to update the existing gardens and woodland of Quinta das Lágrimas (see HGR 18). Any work done had to respect the long history of this place. Research carried out in the Coimbra University archives identified four areas corresponding to four historical periods:
Bathed in Beauty
the Middle Ages (from 1326), the 17th, 19th and late 20th centuries. The restoration sought to strengthen the identity of each of these periods by establishing distinct spaces, each with its own role. The aim in the medieval garden was to restore the water channel walls with impermeable mortar. In the 17th-century area, the focus was on reconstruction and repair of pathways, stairways and the dry-stone walls in the wooded slopes of the gardens. The first cleaning operations in the 19th-century area revealed a system of pathways and rest points in a picturesque style. The lake restoration process included surgery and pruning of tree roots to reduce the level of damage to walls, and repairs to the cascade and use of a liner to make the lake walls impermeable. The client wanted a new garden added, so we created a large grass amphitheatre, combined with a water-collection basin. A draining project reduced the peak flows of the area downstream of the slopes, and a buffer basin protected the hotel and spa building from winter floodwaters. The hydraulic engineering consisted of creating a dam 1.2m (4ft) high where water could build up before slowly emptying out. After the dam was created, the ground was sculpted into a gentle sloping shape. At its centre is a round lake 18m (20 yards) in diameter filled by gravity with water from the ancient Lágrimas spring. This new reserve complies with the EEA Grants’ 14
objective to capture water on hand locally, making it available for irrigation as well as æsthetic purposes. Ecologically nothing was lost and visually much has been gained. Thanks to restoration projects like these, water has been saved and beauty has returned to the gardens, which are once again open to the public and receiving more visitors than ever. The twelve projects followed international standards and have set precedents in their regions. The work has also contributed to a more economical and environmentally sustainable use of water, while garden maintenance and biodiversity have been improved. Last but not least, visitors leave these sites with a better knowledge of our garden heritage. Cristina Castel-Branco is a Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Lisbon. She is a member of the ICOMOS, UNESCO and Scientiﬁc Councils and President of the Institut Européen des Jardins et Paysages.
Top left: The grass amphitheatre at Quinta das Lágrimas, designed by the author and Miguel Coelho de Sousa. Top right: Pool and fountains at Paço Vitorino, Ponte de Lima, restored by Ana Luisa Soares and Marta Calheiros in 2011. Left: Water system at the Botanic Garden of Coimbra, restored by Ana Luisa Soares and Teresa Chambel.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
When Lynne Walker took members of the Australian Garden History Society to her native New Zealand, they were all impressed by the diversity of the gardens they visited.
hen I left the South Island of NZ to move to Australia 30 years ago, New Zealanders rarely opened their gardens. Over the years I have watched the situation change, noticing more and more lovely gardens opening their gates to the public. Even so, my husband Richard and I were amazed when we undertook a ten-day reconnaissance trip of the South Island two years ago. The variety and high standards took us completely by surprise as we visited gardens large and small, town and country, historic and not so old, seaside and alpine, gracious and quirky, finding many, in our opinion, to be of international quality.
Above: Alphaburn Station, Wanaka.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
The garden owners themselves, without exception, were welcoming and passionate and included some incredibly knowledgeable plants people. One of the reasons for this change was undoubtedly the establishment in 2004 of the New Zealand Gardens Trust (NZGT) by the Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture. The Trust set up a system to assess all gardens and provide visitors with accurate information. Trust members include both private and public owners who allow people to visit their gardens and associate membership is available for non-garden owners who wish to receive the Trust newsletters and have the opportunity to attend conference. There is also a large group of gardens that open in different regions to raise money for local and national charities, independently of the NZGT. 15
Flying Visits The resulting range convinced us that an organised tour of South Island through the Australian Garden History Society (AGHS) would appeal to members. However, such was the number and quality of sites that the itinerary was limited to 25 outstanding gardens in the provinces of Canterbury and Otago. So, at the end of October 2017, 20 members of the AGHS – many of whom had never been to New Zealand before – embarked on that trip. The tour travelled from Christchurch to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula, then inland to see high-country gardens on the foothills of snow-topped Mount Hutt, before heading south to visit coastal sites in Dunedin, then inland to Central Otago to gardens around Lakes Wanaka and Wakatipu in the Southern Alps. In this review I’m highlighting just a few sites. The geography of the Canterbury and Otago areas varies greatly and has a profound influence on gardens and farming. The area visited on the tour was generally between 43 and 45 degrees south. The Canterbury plains to the east of the Southern Alps have moderate but reasonably reliable precipitation of between 60 and 70cm (24 to 28in.) annually. Several major braided rivers intersect the plain making regular irrigation possible. At this latitude, the ‘Roaring Forties’ are redirected by the Alps to become fierce north-westerlies that make extensive use of wind breaks essential. The challenges presented to gardeners on the Canterbury plains are in marked contrast to those of Central Otago, where arid and often freezing temperatures prevail. Here there are fewer major rivers so irrigation is an ongoing challenge. The countryside is more undulating and in many cases extremely steep. It was fascinating to see how gardeners have created lush oases in these difficult conditions. Above: French Farm. Right: Native borders at Broadfields. Opposite page: Above left: Giant’s House. Above right: Fisherman’s Bay. Below: Ohinetahi.
We began in Christchurch, a city still recovering from the devastating earthquakes of 2011, with a tour of Broadfields. The garden contains not just native plants, but exotic species including rhododendrons, azaleas, roses, camellias and a great range of trees that were bred and are available only in New Zealand. The 7-acre (3-ha) garden was developed by David Hobbs 20 years ago and the group was intrigued to see a large range of plants they had never encountered before. From there we went to an English-style garden owned by one of NZ’s foremost plantswomen whose knowledge and plant combinations are exemplary. Margaret and Ron Long have lived at Frensham for 25 years and the garden is named after Margaret’s father’s favourite rose, the red floribunda ‘Frensham’. It has yearround interest, meaning that the Longs encourage visits even in winter, and Margaret also writes a monthly newsletter that has hundreds of followers, and conducts garden tours around Europe. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
We travelled on to the tiny harbourside settlement of Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula to visit an exuberant garden with wonderful native and exotic plantings lying within a sheltered valley. French Farm is owned by Jendy and Pat Brooks and contains extensive herbaceous borders ringing an amphitheatre. The intention of the extensive planting is to tie the ornamental garden into the wide natural landscape where two areas of native bush are legally protected in perpetuity. Richard Heathcote (Chair of the AGHS) said to me, “I don’t know what you are going to show us for the next 12 days that can possibly top today,” which rather set the tone (and the challenge) for the rest of the tour. The next day involved a spectacular dolphin cruise out to the Pacific Ocean, followed by two gardens of complete contrast, the Giant’s House and Fisherman’s Bay Garden, described here by our member Glenn Cooke: “In this exuberant and quirky garden [Giant’s House], colourful mosaics and stunning plant combinations complement each other. The owner/artist responsible [Josie Martin] is a trained horticulturist, which is one of the reasons this garden works so well. “The second, Fisherman’s Bay Garden, is a stunning haven with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean on the dramatic coastline of Banks Peninsula. Native plants (including 150 hebes) are combined with a diverse array of non-native plants. From one of the points on the property the next stop is South America as it is the furthest point west in the South Island. This is truly gardening on the edge.”
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Because South Island is a relatively small area, it is possible to see gardens of great diversity within a short space of time. For example the next day we travelled from Ohinetahi, an historic garden in a sheltered coastal bay on the Pacific Ocean, to the Christchurch Botanic Gardens (founded in 1863) then across to Terrace Downs, in the foothills of the Southern Alps, one of South Island’s oldest private gardens. Ohinetahi was designed by the current owner and renowned architect, Sir Miles Warren, over 40 years ago and is classified by the NZGT as being of international significance. The woodland that surrounds the home is well structured and designed with views down to the harbour. Ohinetahi uses the concept of ‘rooms’ to great effect. The terraced garden is characterised by a herb potager, a box-edged rose garden and herbaceous borders. Other features of the English-inspired landscaping include a red garden, an ogee gazebo, pond, bridge, statues and stone and metal sculptures. A stream flows from the garden to the harbour. A motorised tour of Christchurch Botanic Garden, which is 155 years old and approximately 46 acres (18.6ha) in size, showcased magnificent native and exotic mature trees, and other features including a rose garden, a conservatory complex, a native fernery and an Erica garden. From the heart of Christchurch we travelled across the Canterbury plains to Terrace Station homestead and garden, originally bought in the late 1850s by a prominent New Zealand politician, Sir John Hall. His great-granddaughter 17
Kate and her husband Richard Foster now own the property and have enormous enthusiasm for the preservation of its heritage. The garden contains huge specimens of sequoia, cedar, hornbeam, laurel, elm and sycamore, underplanted with woodland plantings that change seasonally, starting with snowdrops then bluebells, aquilegias and foxgloves, before ending with hellebores. Over the following days, tour participant Mary Wright was impressed by the way gardens had grown around the homes on these old properties. “The big homestead gardens were particularly splendid. Longbeach and Akaunui were outstanding, while the historical significance of the house and old trees at Terrace Station was fascinating.” We also visited four alpine gardens at the base of one of New Zealand’s largest ski fields where heavy snow is a way of life. In fact the owners, who also run large, high-country sheep and deer stations, leave their gates open when snow is forecast so they don’t have to dig out the gates to get out of their properties. Here rhododendrons and azaleas began to shine and the tour team was astonished by the height and vigour of them, some of gigantic proportions. Swathes of the Himalayan lily 18
(Cardiocrinum giganteum) began to appear and, as we travelled south, more and more were in bloom and exhibiting their stunning flowers. We spotted another beautiful plant: Myosotidium hortencia (the Chatham Island Forget-me-not), which grows naturally on the coastal cliffs, rocky outcrops and beaches of the Chatham Islands some 800km (500 miles) almost due east of Christchurch. It is a glossy-leaved, evergreen perennial that looks nothing like the European biennial Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) to which it is related. Heading south to the province of Otago we visited Glenfalloch, a public woodlands garden; Wylde Willow, a large heritage rose garden, and the 150-year old Dunedin Botanic Gardens, before heading inland through Lord of the Rings country to the garden of Clachanburn (Gaelic for ‘Stony Creek’) in the heart of the arid Maniototo Plain. It was startling to find a very large garden flourishing here. Everybody was astonished by how Clachanburn’s owner, Jane Falconer, had triumphed against the harsh conditions and heavy clay soils in one of the driest areas of the country. Almost 50 years ago, Jane started with a 1-acre garden and expanded it until it is now 4½ acres (2ha) – and the fence has been moved six times. The garden features two large ponds, a stream and just about every kind of bed you can think of, but it is never cluttered and its serenity is an inspiration, as is Jane herself. We travelled on to a number of alpine gardens around Lake Wanaka, each within its own magnificent setting, before concluding the tour in Queenstown with two large and very different gardens. Of these, Chantecler was highly structured with themed areas and thousands of fascinating plants; the other, Janet Blair’s garden, was more relaxed and softly planted, following the owner’s mantra: “the spaces you leave are as important as the spaces you plant.” HISTORIC GARDENS Review
The tour had considerable variety, including visits to historic houses, art galleries, and harbour cruises. Akaroa harbour provided encounters with Hector’s Dolphin, the world’s smallest and rarest variety. At Dunedin harbour we witnessed albatross soaring in the stiff breeze and saw the rugged geology where they nest. We also visited Larnach Castle on the Otago Peninsula, which was built in the 1870s by an Australian of Scottish ancestry called William Larnach. Margaret Barker and her late husband Barry bought the mock castle 50 years ago. Margaret – who is a renowned plantswoman and internationally recognised dendrologist – has developed the garden, which is now magnificent. The restored castle sits majestically amongst the many borders and gardens including alpine, perennial, herb, New Zealand plants and a southern hemisphere garden that contains plants from all over South America, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Quite how this garden thrives is a mystery as it is located on a very windy, exposed site on the side of Otago harbour with views out to the Pacific Ocean.
Opposite page: Above: Middle Farm Garden, Southern Alps. Below, clockwise from top left: The Chatham Island Forget-menot; Himalayan Lily; the group at Terrace Station. This page: Above left: Lake Wanaka. Above right: Clachanburn. Right: Chantecler.
At Queenstown on the banks of Lake Wakatipu we enjoyed a trip on a 100-year-old coal-fired steamer to visit one of the region’s most renowned sheep stations where we saw a sheep shearing demonstration and enjoyed dinner. Ann and John Maurer noted that, “Because many of the gardens were on farms the visits invariably included agricultural discussions of great variety and interest, ranging from supply of carrot seeds to international markets, elk raising and black-currant production.” The group enjoyed this tour enormously, with each day bringing new surprises so different to the day before. Happily, Richard Heathcote’s initial fears on day one were completely dispelled. Originally from the South Island of New Zealand, Lynne Walker has been a member of the Australian Garden History Society for over 20 years.
Growing Green Fingers By Linden Groves
Idealistic views of children’s gardening continue to charm – but are not always matched by reality.
osy cheeks, excited giggles, little fingers unearthing worms and sowing seeds as youngsters learn new skills – the image we have of teaching children to garden is one that has long captured adult imaginations. From pinching out tomatoes to setting up bean canes, the belief is that gardening will form wholesome characters and inspire a lifetime of sensible choices. I am one of those adults, having cajoled and marshalled hundreds of four to 11 year olds into gardening at my offspring’s state primary school in London. Over the past decade, well-meaning parents have helped children to plant wheat, woodland trees, strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, wild meadow flowers and so much more, egged on by schemes such as the Woodland Trust’s ‘Trees for Schools’, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board’s ‘Grow your own Potatoes’, the Real Bread Campaign’s ‘Bake your Lawn’, and of course the Royal Horticultural Society’s matchless ‘Campaign for School Gardening’, in which schools rise to various challenges from teaching the use of hand tools to holding garden open days in order to win increasingly grand certificates and prizes.
But such initiatives and a desire to help children to garden are nothing new and, being something of a historian, I haven’t been able to resist looking at examples of our predecessors’ attempts. At a second-hand bookstall in a sleepy Shropshire market town in the heart of England, I found a slim 1947 post-war guide by the name of School Gardening by G.H. Copley (National Diploma of Horticulture; Joint Organiser Lancashire County Garden Produce and Small Livestock Committee; Horticultural Consultant Member of Gardeners’ Brains Trusts).
Above: The romantic ideal of children’s gardening has long captured the imagination. Right: A school garden layout proposed in 1947 by G.H. Copley. 20
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Mr Copley’s aim was to help teachers introduce gardening to their schools, explaining that: “We are on the verge of great developments in education. In future our schools are going to play a more important part in our national life. They will not be the prosaic buildings we were accustomed to in the past, but will be beautiful structures set in gardens. The object of this text-book is to help the teachers who will be instructing their pupils in the principles and practice of horticulture. It is backed by a long teaching experience, and a great love of the work.” Mr Copley recommended the use of gardening to develop minds beyond straight horticultural education: “I consider that experimental work lies at the very basis of successful school gardening. Without it the subject can be made to possess educational value, but with it school gardening is really made to live in the minds of the students. It makes them realize that they are dealing with marvellous forces, and that they can to some extent control those forces. In short, the proper exploitation of the experimental side will go far towards making the difference between an educated child and one who has collected a certain number of facts, and learned how to do a certain number of operations.” He goes on to suggest experiments in cutting seed potatoes, suckering broad beans, onion sowing, spur pruning apple trees, and a ‘manurial test’ to compare six chrysanthemums grown in bonemeal with six grown in plain manured soil. Mr Copley was by no means the first to tackle the subject, though. Another second-hand bookshop trawl revealed to me that in 1910, Charles Wyatt, Director of Elementary Education for Manchester, produced a delightful little book called Gardening for Children and Others, in which it is clear just how serious the progressive Manchester authorities were about youth gardening: “Many thousands of children in the Manchester Public Elementary Schools having, with their teachers, shewn [sic] an interest in the cultivation of plants and flowers, it came
Above: Schoolgirls taste mulberries as part of the Campaign for School Gardening. Below left: Nursery children proudly display beetroot they have grown. Below: The charming cover of Charles Wyatt’s 1910 book.
about on the suggestion of the teachers more directly concerned, with the approval of the Education Committee and the City Council, that a Children’s Flower Guild was established in the Spring of 1909; the objects of the Guild being to further practical Nature Study; to organise gardening for children, and to encourage the growing of plants and flowers; to arrange School Flower Shows and help in other like direction by the giving of practical advice and the provision of prizes, medals, and certificates for successful efforts. “For some years facilities had been afforded by which children were enabled in June of each year to purchase Geraniums or Fuschias, established in pots, and the demand for these plants has now reached 30,000 in number. The plants are taken home, and in August the children bring them to the schools for inspection by the teachers. When anything approaching successful cultivation has been secured, a Card of Merit is awarded, and 25 per cent of the plants are selected for Exhibition. The selected plants are admitted to Children’s Flower Shows, hitherto
Growing Green Fingers held in various public buildings in different districts of the city. Experienced gardeners act as judges, and 100 prizes (Fern Cases) are awarded to the 100 children producing the best plants. “When the Children’s Flower Guild was established, it was promised, that, from time to time, there should be issued certain modest direction on plant growing and gardening generally. Hence this little work. No merit is claimed for it. Essentially most elementary, it deals only with a few plants – especially those which are easy to grow with some hope of success, even in the most densely populated districts of a great town. The children live in localities where the conditions are not all the same. The aim is to encourage attempts at horticulture in the yard and small garden plots attached to cottages, in the cottage windows, and at the homes of others who are more happily placed with regard to their surroundings. “The same is true of the schools. With a few only is it possible to have garden plots; with all it is possible to grow some plants in the school-rooms. Happily the love of plants and flowers is frequently the keenest with those who enjoy the fewest opportunities for their cultivation. For all it is hoped that something of use may be found in the following pages. In the great world of gardening the principles which underlie success are the same – and commencing with the growing of a few simple plants and flowers the children may acquire such an interest in their modest possessions that they will be encouraged to go forward and attempt higher flights, enjoying an ever increasing success in the cultivation of flowers, trees and vegetables.” Mr Wyatt goes on to offer practical gardening tips, but brilliantly intersperses these with snippets of garden history so that children learn not only how to regenerate old fuschias, but also that: “In 1760 there was in business at Hammersmith a gardener, James Lee, who had formerly been employed in the gardens of the adjacent Sion House, one of the homes of the Duke of Northumberland. Lee in the course of his
Above: The royal family on the terrace at Osborne House, where the children were encouraged to learn practical gardening skills. Below: The fruit and vegetable plots tended by the children of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
business introduced many foreign plants into England, and one day he saw a Fuschia in the window of a small house at Wapping. An old woman lived in the house and Lee asked her to sell the plant. It had been sent home by the woman’s husband, who was a sailor, and naturally she did not want to part with it, but gave way at last when Lee offered her 8 guineas and threw into the bargain a promise of two more plants when he had raised his cuttings. From it Lee struck 300 cuttings. It was then a complete novelty and he sold them for 21s. each, making more than £300.” I have a professional interest in children’s play in historic gardens and whilst researching this I was delighted to ‘meet’ gaggles of privileged Victorian and Edwardian children engaged by their affluent parents in worthy gardening activities. Of course, the famous example is that set by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who gave their many children their own gardens at their home at Osborne on the Isle of Wight. Each child had a 12ft x 5ft (3.66m x 1.5m) plot, which he or she was to maintain using child-size tools. The children grew fruit and vegetables, which they were encouraged to sell to their father in the spirit of true market gardeners. In this way, the royal children were expected to learn practical skills, a work ethos, business acumen, a sense of responsibility and an awareness of nature. At the estate of Kingston Lacy in Dorset (home for 400 years to the Bankes family, powerful Dorset landowners), the family’s children in the early 20th century, were given their own gardens, as Viola Bankes describes in her Reminiscences: “He [Mr Hill, head gardener] also advised Daphne and me in the cultivation of our own plots. These were next to the kitchen garden in the flower garden, divided by a high, old yew hedge from the part where the flowers for cutting were grown, including a quarter of an acre of bulbs – daffodils, narcissi, jonquils and tulips. Ralph was never at HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Growing Green Fingers home long enough, once his school days had started, to keep up with gardening, but Daphne and I industriously dug and planted and hoed, delighted to see our flowers obediently springing up. I grew violas, of course, and pansies, blue scabious, hyacinths and a variety of vivid annuals.” But children’s gardening was not necessarily part of a scheme to encourage their independence. Irene Ravensdale remembered gardening with her father, Lord Curzon, at Hackwood in Hampshire in around 1908: “Most vividly of all in my memory stands out the plantain digging on the lawn of Hackwood. On our arrival, my father complained to the astonished gardener, secure of his post for many years, that he did not know how to keep lawns free of plantains. He would proceed to show him the correct method. Week-end after week-end three drab pig-tailed daughters would stand like sentinels round the crouching figure of their father, spiking out the plantains, leaving them to collect the roots and remains into little wicker baskets and a wheel-barrow. Before commencing on each occasion, a footman would emerge with a small rush mat for my father’s right knee to kneel on, carrying the murderous pronged spud to break up the insidious growth of the vile weed. Sixpences rewarded us for the discovery of fresh plantains; shillings for anything so monstrous as thistles.” No doubt these well-meaning adults were egged on by the great Gertrude Jekyll who, in 1908, wrote Children and Gardens (the purchase of an original copy was my biggest indulgence, and it is kept carefully wrapped), in which one of her recommendations was that: “It is very nice to grow Mustard and Cress in the letters of one’s name. You prepare a little long-shaped bed, and stretch two strings with wooden pegs at their ends about eight inches
apart. Between these strings you stretch out the shallowest possible hollow, an inch wide, in the shape of the letters. It looks more finished if you have a border all round. You can make the sowing-place for the border by laying down the handle of a rake before you take up the strings that were your guide for the height of the letters. You just press on the lyingdown rake handle, and it leaves a little shallow trough, just right for sowing the seeds in. Then you barely cover the seeds with earth and wait till they come up.” These examples are only snippets of a bigger picture, gathered as fortune has thrown them my way. I think of them often though as I struggle to persuade yet another clutch of five year olds to please “put the peas in a line” or “do not snap the stalks”. For the truth unacknowledged either in my predecessors’ writings or by me before now is that gardening with children is certainly very worthwhile, but is never the wholesome and scenic activity we all imagine when setting out to shape a new green-fingered generation. A fascination with horse poo, squeamishness about insects, and disgust for eating the vegetables they grow are far more accurate experiences than my rose-tinted opening lines, and I often wonder whether my predecessors felt the same! Linden Groves is a landscape historian with a particular interest in engaging children with historic gardens – see www.outdoorchildren.co.uk and www.hahahopscotch.co.uk Top: An old postcard showing the child-sized gardening tools used at Osborne House. Middle: Pupils at Hollickwood Primary School in London are always keen to decorate the school entrance with flowering plants. Left: In 1908 Gertrude Jekyll suggested children could grow their names in mustard and cress. Her book Children and Gardens was full of delightful pictures of youngsters in the garden.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
By Olga Minochkina Translated by Sophie Seifalian
After years of neglect, the prospects are looking brighter for a future star of Russia’s Golden Ring.
he visitor to Vladimir, the ancient capital of the Russian Vladimir-Suzdal Principality, follows the itinerary of the Golden Ring of ancient cities to the north-east of Moscow, one of the most popular tourist routes in the country. However, very few foreign tourists make it to the former home of the Khrapovitsky family. The manor of Muromtsevo with its park and gardens was built at the turn of the 20th century and was one of the largest complexes established in the Russian Empire during the last years of its existence. There had been nothing like it before, in terms of its scale or grandiose concept; aristocratic estates in this region had always been far more modest. The owner of Muromtsevo was a hereditary nobleman of Polish origin called Vladimir Khrapovitsky, who was born in 1858 in Pavlovsk, outside St Petersburg and served in the Hussar Regiment of the Imperial Guard before retiring to his estate in 1892. There he engaged in forest cultivation and timber processing on an industrial scale. Vladimir inherited the estate and the adjoining land in 1884. After several years, he managed to turn the Khrapovitsky manor into a very profitable estate. The source 24
of his prosperity came from the vast coniferous forests around Muromtsevo. The estate was organised around a programme of tree breeding under the leadership of the German forester and silviculturist, Karl Thürmer (1824-1900). The author of articles on forestry practice, Thürmer spent most of his life in Russia, eventually dying at Muromtsevo. The magnificent coniferous forests – predominantly Pinus sylvestris and Picea abies – which Thürmer planned and planted over 100 years ago, are still standing. Vladimir Khrapovitsky founded several major forest enterprises and even constructed a railway linking Muromtsevo with Moscow and St Petersburg – 180km (112 miles) and 900km (560 miles) distant respectively – to transport the timber. Vladimir and his wife Elisabeth travelled frequently and took a great interest in Western European traditions, culture and ways of doing business. He organised his factories and farms in accordance with the latest technological advances, adopting progressive European know-how, and was always interested in innovation in equipment. The new buildings at Muromtsevo were erected in a style inspired by French, English and Scottish castles. The HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Opposite page: An early 20th-century postcard showing the cascade as seen from the house. Above: Vladimir Khrapovitsky. Right: The main house photographed in 2014.
designer was Pyotr Boytsov (1849 to after 1918), a talented and eclectic Russian architect, who specialised in the use of neo-Gothic motifs. He built homes and mansion and park complexes in Moscow, Tambov, Kiev and Nizhny Novgorod, as well as in Vladimir province. One of the first buildings to be erected at Muromtsevo was a new mansion, the west wing of which was based on châteaux in the Loire Valley. Built a few years later, the eastern part resembled the British royal residence at Balmoral, Scotland. Why Balmoral was chosen as a model remains a mystery, although one theory is that Vladimir strongly desired to host a visit by the Russian Emperor Nicholas II and his family, and wanted especially to please the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. As a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, she would have spent childhood days at Balmoral. Having two different styles did not bother Vladimir Khrapovitsky: the house resembled European ancestral castles established over different eras by several generations of owners. It was an impressive architectural fantasy and, at the same time, a public display of the tastes and aspirations of the owner. There is no doubt that Vladimir’s mansion greatly surprised his guests and local residents alike. Romantic castles were unprecedentedly exotic in these parts. Of course, in St Petersburg or Moscow one could see many such buildings but, in the backwoods of Vladimir’s forests, the new house seemed utterly
extraordinary. In letters to Khrapovitsky, visitors wrote enthusiastically in praise of Muromtsevo, and contemporaries called it the Tsarskaya or royal estate because of its beauty and size, and also because of the unusual architecture. Medieval European architectural styles were employed for the construction of the other estate buildings, namely houses, administrative buildings, commercial buildings, a school, a theatre and the railway station. But the greatest attraction of the estate was the large and very beautiful park, whose owner spared neither effort nor funds in its creation, and invited the most famous scientistgardeners of the time to Muromtsevo. The tradition of hiring German gardeners had begun in the 18th century because they were particularly respected and valued, and happy to work in Russia. At home, they often had far fewer opportunities to realise their talents and abilities, while in the vast Russian empire there was a place for every visiting German specialist, and many of them spent almost their entire lives in Russia. This was described in detail by Georg Kufaldt in his article ‘German Gardeners in Tsarist Russia’. It was quite easy to find work, as almost all the major commercial gardens and nurseries were in the hands of Germans or their descendants. Hiring a German gardener was considered prestigious, and their work was highly paid. In addition, Russians have
“There had been nothing like it before, in terms of its scale or grandiose concept.”
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
In 1894, Arnold Regel (1856-1917) was invited to the estate. A scion of the Regel dynasty of German scientistbotanists and horticulturists, Arnold was a gardener, dendrologist, landscape architect and park builder. His father was Eduard Regel, director from 1875 to 1892 of the St Petersburg Botanical Garden. At Muromtsevo, Arnold was engaged in the creation of flowerbeds and rose gardens on the south side of the mansion. It is possible he was responsible for the symmetrical layout of an eight-pointed star design near the northern façade, the remnants of which can still be seen in the park. The design was closely aligned with the architecture of the house, whose windows opened out to views of the avenues. However, the most significant stage in the creation of the park was associated with the outstanding German landscape architect of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the director of the Riga City Gardens, Georg Friedrich Ferdinand Kufaldt (1853-1938). Kufaldt was a brilliant master of large-scale architectural and spatial compositions. He created and reconstructed public gardens in Riga, St Petersburg and other cities in the Baltic region, and distinguished himself as a master of park vistas. His compositions have much in common with the works of Pietro Gonzaga, the Italian decorator, set designer and landscape architect, and his work is known in Wiesbaden and Mecklenburg in Germany and Nice in France. He was always very mindful of the natural beauty of a site, identifying and skilfully revealing the virtues of each locality. The renovation of Khrapovitsky’s manor park was one of his last projects in Russia and, in this work, he demonstrated his talents in full. After the outbreak of the First World War, Kufaldt was forced to leave Russia, spending the last years of his life working and teaching in Berlin.
always been very hospitable to foreigners. Thanks to this, in 19th-century Russia there was a whole class of German gardeners, and many well-known dynasties of the same. Khrapovitsky employed several Germans to work on his park and garden. The first was Karl Enke, who worked at Muromtsevo from 1884 to 1895. Enke established the arboretum, directed the laying out of the park avenues, arranged flowerbeds and flower gardens, organised the kitchen gardens with greenhouses and hothouses, and built fountains and gazebos. Some of the key elements of the new park were the artificial ponds created by previous owners of the estate. Under Vladimir Khrapovitsky these were expanded to bring them closer to the new house. Their banks remain some of the most scenic places to visit.
Knorre family archive.
Above: An avenue in the park. Left: Georg Kufaldt’s design for the park at Muromtsevo. This is a 1960s photograph of the original drawing, now lost. Below: Alexis Knorre and Technical Forestry School students photographed in the early 1920s.
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Right: The pond at Muromtsevo in 2014. Below left: An early 20th-century postcard of the cascade looking towards the house. Below right: A view of the Sudogda River.
Georg Kufaldt completed the renovation project in 1910, and Vladimir Khrapovitsky took about two years to convert the German architect’s designs into reality. As a result, a majestic grand vista between the house and the ponds was created. The centrepiece of this vista was a terraced cascade, which took advantage of the natural slope of the terrain. In front of the house was an extensive terrace with a stone balustrade decorated with Gothic motifs in the form of trefoils and fleurs-de-lis. A system of reservoirs was built along the entire descent of the cascade, from the terrace to the ponds. At the top of the cascade was the upper water parterre, which reflected the mansion’s high roofs and towers, and consisted of two pools, the water flowing from one to the other via a small waterfall. From there, the water ran down broad terraced steps, flowing into a round pool. A picturesque winding stream rushed to the small parterre, and thence into the ponds. Along the entire cascade there were steps and paths surrounded by lawns and flowerbeds. To the sides of the
upper parterre were rose beds and arrangements of clipped Thuja and palms in pots. At the bottom of the cascade along the northern shore of the pond was a promenade with bridges and slopes to the water. Following Kufaldt’s design, the opposite shore of the pond was significantly pushed back inland creating a bay that echoed the shape of the cascade’s upper parterre. An elegant loggia with pointed arches was built at the furthest part of the bay, completing the composition of the cascade and the vista from the house windows. During the holidays, the loggia was used as a music pavilion or picnic place. In 1912 electricity was installed in the park and night-time illuminations were added to the daytime beauty of the cascading allée. A regular supply of large quantities of water was needed to allow the cascade to function. This was taken from the local Sudogda River, which flows two kilometres away from the manor house. The water was piped to a tower located on the western edge of the upper park then distributed for
Images courtesy of State Vladimir-Suzdal Museum-Reserve except where indicated.
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Andrey Solodilov (both).
different needs, including the cascade. The water flow from the ponds was regulated by a dam and returned to the river via a natural tributary. Kufaldt’s plan for the shorelines of the large pond was complicated, and their whimsical shapes created a host of delightful views. At the same time, great importance was given to the silhouettes and reflections of the waterside. The specially selected planting was a combination of open glades with groups of trees and individual trees in picturesque groupings. The species were mostly birches, oaks, spruce and weeping willows. A bean-shaped island was created in the pond, separated from the shore by a small bypass channel. On the northern bank of the large pond was a small pavilion intended to hold pleasure boats and equipment. The building resembles a romantic Dutch barn, a style that became popular on Russian estates from the second half of the 18th century. These barns were erected on the banks of ponds to create spectacular reflections in the water. Thanks to Georg Kufaldt’s transformation, the park area increased significantly and became more cohesive. Recent research estimates that the entire park and garden was 78.5 hectares (190 acres). The cascade was the chief link between the regular and the landscaped parts of the park, with the clear symmetry of flowerbeds and water pools in the upper park gradually replaced by the natural beauty of the meandering stream, the pond shores and waterside planting. However, irregular lines were only used on the large pond. The manor farmstead was located on the northern shore of the small, rectangular pond. Its strict geometry underscored the rationalism and order in Vladimir Khrapovitsky’s kitchen gardens, greenhouses and hothouses, which were among the attractions of Muromtsevo and
regularly visited by the owners and their guests. Fruit harvested from the greenhouses was sent to Moscow for sale. The landscape park stretched for several kilometres and included quite remote features. On its western border, on the Sudogda floodplain, were Khrapovitsky’s hunting grounds. This area has always been extraordinarily beautiful. The banks of the winding river have picturesque meadows and promontories. The territory was surrounded by a dense pine forest on one side and by vast water meadows on the other. Nature in this place required virtually no improvement. Here Vladimir Khrapovitsky built a hunting pavilion and a bathhouse, and planted a four-row birch avenue from the centre of the estate to the banks of the river. This was probably one of the best places for horse rides and picnics. The huge and magnificent park of Muromtsevo was once an outstanding work of landscape art. Its creation was inspired by examples of famous palaces and parks in Russia and Western Europe. It combined, in new and original ways, the traditional techniques of landscape art with the latest technological developments. Unfortunately, the history of the estate ended in its prime. The park was completed in 1912, but by 1914 the country had already entered the First World War and Muromtsevo fell on hard times. In 1917, after the revolution and fearing reprisals by the new authorities, the owners left Russia for ever, and Vladimir Khrapovitsky died in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1922. His estate passed into the ownership of the Soviet State and for more than half a century the former manor and its facilities housed the College of Forestry. Thürmer’s grandson, Alexis Knorre, also a forester, did much to establish the college, maintain the former manor and preserve the park, nurseries and forests. Eventually, the buildings and park were abandoned and today only the main
“The time has come for Muromtsevo Castle and Park to wake from a centuryold sleep.”
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Saving Muromtsevo Opposite page: Left: Ruins of the park loggia on the southern shore of the pond. Right: The boat house was designed in the style of a Dutch barn. This page: Left: A fragment of the balustrade on the upper terrace. Below: A model of the Muromtsevo estate as it was in the 19th century, created by the architect Anton Solodov.
ending and the time has now come for Muromtsevo Castle and Park to wake from a century-old sleep. In May 2014, after years of neglect, the estate buildings and remaining part of the park were transferred to the State Vladimir-Suzdal Museum-Reserve, the largest cultural body of the Vladimir region. This was followed in July 2015 by the opening of the exhibition ‘The Muromstevo Estate: Between Past and Future’, telling the history of the estate and the fate of its owners. There is now a real chance that the buildings and park of Khrapovitsky’s estate can be saved. Olga Minochkina is an art conservator and restorer of 18th- and 19th-century paintings, including the collection from the Khrapovitsky Estate at the State Vladimir-Suzdal Museum-Reserve. Sophie Seifalian is a garden historian and independent researcher. She visited Muromtsevo in 2016 while researching her Russian family tree, which includes Karl Thürmer and Alexis Knorre and their descendants, some of whom are foresters and silviculturists to this day.
buildings, including the house, the extensive stables, the church, the boat house, and the central part of the park, with the cascade and ponds remain. On the site of the former arboretum there are several dozen of the original species still growing. These include Engeleman spruce (Picea engelmannii), Siberian larch (Larix sibirica), white fir (Abies concolor), Siberian cedar (Pinus sibirica), Weymouth pine (Pinus strobus), and Balkan pine (Pinus peuce). In the park there are trees from different parts of the world, some of which are very rare for this area of Russia such as Viburnum lentago, Alnus incana f. acuminata Regel, Acer saccharinum and Juglans mandshurica Maxim. In the second half of the 20th century, Muromtsevo gradually became an attractive spot for tourists. People came to look at the unusual architecture of the estate buildings and stroll through the avenues and along the shores in search of remnants of a bygone grandeur. Many of those who visited remarked that they saw a romantic image of Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the ruins of the house surrounded by a wild park. Indeed, there is something about the deserted house that is enigmatic and mysterious. But every fairy tale should have a happy
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Anniversary Remembering a Great Soul By Jill Sinclair
Many memorials have been created to the founder of the Indian nation in the 70 years since his assassination.
n 30 January 1948 Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was shot dead in India’s capital. The 78year-old had led his country’s campaign against British rule and lived just long enough to see India gain independence. His assailant was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist, who blamed Gandhi’s religious tolerance for the
violence between Hindus and Muslims that surrounded the British exit. Reflecting national and international shock at the murder, prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru called Gandhi the “greatest man of our age” and said that, “The light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere…the Father of the Nation is no more”. Born in western India in 1869, Gandhi had trained in London to be a lawyer, then practised in South Africa, where he campaigned for fair treatment of the resident Indian community. It was here that he was first given the honorific title Mahatma – from the Sanskrit for ‘great soul’ – by which he is most commonly known in the West. Once back in his homeland, Gandhi became leader of the movement for Indian independence, and developed a style of non-violent protest and civil disobedience that inspired activists around the world, including Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr, who called Gandhi’s approach the “guiding light” for the civil rights movement in the US. It is remarkable how, 70 years after his death, Gandhi continues to be widely Above: The Gandhi memorial in London’s Tavistock Square. celebrated and memorialised as a saintly figure and symbol of Opposite page: righteous protest against stateAbove: Gandhi at 10 Downing Street in 1931, about to meet the British Prime Minister. sanctioned injustice and Below left: The marble slab in the centre of the sunken memorial garden at Delhi’s Raj Ghat. Below right: The sunken garden at Raj Ghat. (All photos by the author except where indicated.) inhumanity.
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Memorials to Gandhi are commonplace in India: many parks, schools, markets, roads and temples have been named after him, and many museums created. The capital city of Gujarat, the state where he was born, is called Gandhi-nagar in his honour, and the country celebrates a national holiday, Gandhi Jayanti, on his birthday (2 October) every year. More surprisingly, Gandhi’s face appears on India’s banknotes, and his name endorses a Hyderabad bus station, a Mumbai swimming pool and a 2012 coal-fired power station in Haryana. At least three separate peace prizes are offered in his name, and memorials outside India include a school in Fiji, a 2002 statue in Milwaukee, a district in Houston, Texas, and squares in Johannesburg, Mauritius and Florida. As recently as two years ago, a major new memorial was erected in the heart of London. But the continuing memorialisation of Gandhi is not without its controversy. Some argue that his image has been misappropriated and that he would be uncomfortable with expensive statues and displays dedicated to him, given his austere lifestyle and resistance to the idea of Gandhism as a movement. “I have nothing new to teach the world,” he argued. “Truth and non-violence are as old as the hills.” Indeed, Nehru contrasted the traditional approach to “great men” who “have monuments in bronze and marble set up for them” with the way he thought Gandhi should be remembered: as a man who “managed in his life-time to become enmeshed in millions and millions of hearts”. Others resist his memorialisation on the basis that his contribution to Indian independence has been overstated, and his responsibility for sectarian violence overlooked. Indeed, some members of the current governing party in India have gone so far as to consider memorials to Godse, Gandhi’s murderer. There is also an increasing outcry about some of his beliefs and practices – from referring to black
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South Africans in derogatory terms to his allegedly abusive treatment of young female relatives. In one recent example, a memorial statue of Gandhi donated by India to the University of Ghana in 2016 was removed a few months later after professors and students labelled him a racist, and argued that to accept the memorial would be to “kowtow to the wishes of a burgeoning Eurasian super-power”. The main Gandhi memorial in Delhi is at the site of his cremation on the banks of Delhi’s Yamuna River and known as Raj Ghat, which means the riverbank of the king or leader. It was designed by Vanu G. Bhuta, a US-trained Indian architect who won the government-sponsored competition to create a suitable memorial to the lost leader. It is a stark, modernist design, intended to reflect the profound austerity of Gandhi’s life. The memorial, which was completed in around 1956, is a sunken, square garden surrounded by walls that serve as viewing platforms. In the centre of the garden is a monolithic, black marble slab, inscribed simply with the phrase ‘Hey Ram’ (meaning Oh God), supposedly Gandhi’s last words. An eternal flame burning in a large lantern is a later addition. Originally, the surrounding garden was red earth, but it has undergone several changes since its installation 60 years ago, and is now grass, punctuated with trees planted by visiting foreign dignitaries including an ashoka (Saraca asoca) planted by President Tito of Yugoslavia and a peepul tree (Ficus religiosa) by President Obama in 2015. There is much to admire in the proportions and scale of the Raj Ghat memorial garden, and the way it can be experienced first in a broad sweep from the viewing platforms above, then intimately (and barefoot) at the marble memorial itself. The bright marigold and rose petals arranged on the black marble add a typically Hindu touch, and on occasions the whole memorial is smothered in
Wilson Loo Kok Wee.
Far left: Footsteps lead to the place where Gandhi was shot at Birla House. Left: A courtyard at the India International Centre in New Delhi. Below: An empty plinth on New Delhi’s Rajpath, long discussed as the site for a new memorial to Gandhi.
intricate petal patterns. For many visitors, however, the dignity and repose of the space are somewhat marred by the bright green matting laid over the paths (presumably to protect bare feet from the sun-baked stone) and by the retractable barriers that discourage visitors from getting too close to the memorial. Just last October, a larger-than-life (1.8m/6ft) statue of Gandhi by sculptor Ram Sutar was added to the site, in the adjacent parking area. It includes an inscription ‘Be the Change You Wish to See’, one of Gandhi’s most-quoted sayings. The Indian government judged that the design of the original memorial was too austere, as it lacked a representation of Gandhi, and that visitors would welcome a further spot in which to pay their respects. A second Gandhi memorial in Delhi is at Birla House, where he lived during the last four months of his life, and where he was assassinated. Since 1973 it has been a national memorial and museum, known as the Gandhi Smriti, which has become a popular destination for school trips and tourist visits. The simple room where he slept, with his bed and sparse personal effects, has been recreated. Footprints cast in stone mark his final walk from the house to an evening prayer meeting. They are not, as many visitors expect, gently sunken into the earth, as if preserving the exact tread of his final few steps. Instead, they are oddly raised and too numerous to bring much poignancy to the site. Apparently any child who sees them as an invitation to walk in Gandhi’s footsteps is quickly disabused of the idea by museum guards. The exact spot where he was shot is marked by a column, engraved with his final words and the date of his death, and protected by a stone veranda. Elsewhere there is a statue of Gandhi by Ram Sutar with the inscription ‘My Life is my Message’, 32
a mass of information boards, giving extraordinary detail about Gandhi’s life and, in the house, a much-trumpeted interactive display. Less well-known is the Gandhi King Plaza at the India International Centre in Delhi’s diplomatic quarter, designed by American architect Joseph Allen Stein, who was responsible for several important Modernist buildings in Delhi. The plaza is an open-air joint memorial to the Mahatma and Martin Luther King Jr, designed around a large pool, with pillars inscribed with quotations from both men, plus places to sit in the shade of two vast pilkhan trees (Ficus cordifolia). It is a quiet, reflective place, used for occasional exhibitions. There has been talk of creating a further memorial to Gandhi in the capital, on an empty plinth on Rajpath, in the heart of New Delhi. This ceremonial thoroughfare was built by the British in the 1930s, even as control over their Indian Empire was waning, and the plinth once displayed a white marble memorial to the late King-Emperor George V under a fine baldachin (canopy). After Independence, the Indians did not relish having a British monarch lording it over this great thoroughfare and his statue was finally removed in the 1960s. Government proposals to place a statue of Gandhi there instead met with protests that the grand site and surroundings were not compatible with his principles and philosophy, and the plinth remains empty. Gandhi’s legacy is also commemorated in South Africa, where he lived and worked from 1893 to 1914. In common with other countries outside India that have erected memorials, South Africa has opted for figurative statues as its way of celebrating his life. In Johannesburg, a 2.5m (8ft) bronze statue by Tinka Christopher was installed on Gandhi’s birthday in 2003. Standing imposingly on a 5m (16ft) plinth, the statue is unusual for HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress
Remembering a Great Soul portraying Gandhi as a young man in his lawyer’s robes. It is located near the former site of the city’s law courts, where Gandhi worked and was later tried and sentenced for his role in opposing segregation laws. Although there was some opposition to the memorial, it was welcomed by former president Nelson Mandela as celebrating the man who started the fight against white minority rule in South Africa and whose work inspired the creation of the African National Congress. In the United States, the presence of prosperous Indian-American communities and the strong ties between Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr have led to several memorials being created to the Mahatma. Of most note is probably the 2m (6ft 6in) bronze statue at the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic site in Atlanta, Georgia. Installed in 1998, it was the first Gandhi statue to be erected on federal land. A similar bronze statue was set up in 2000 on the street in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington DC and inscribed ‘My life is My Message’. Other American memorials, many donated by the Indian embassy, have proved controversial. One erected in a public park in Davis, California in 2016 was met with widespread protests from groups claiming that Gandhi was racist, a child molester and cause of the violence during the British withdrawal from India. In the face of the protests, the City Council said the gift of the statue had been “mistakenly viewed as a noncontroversial item”. In London, where Gandhi trained as a barrister and was called to the Bar in 1891, a memorial was installed in 1968 in the centre of leafy Tavistock Square, near University College, where he studied law. It is a statue of the seated Mahatma, created by the Polish sculptor, actress and writer Fredda Brilliant.
In 2009, as part of a restoration of the square, a new flowerbed was added, with the support of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which displayed plants from India, in further honour of Gandhi. The square also contains a memorial to conscientious objectors against military service, and a cherry tree planted in memory of those killed in Hiroshima by the atomic bomb. More recently, in 2015, a major new statue was installed in London’s Parliament Square, opposite the Palace of Westminster and alongside established memorials to Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela. Designed by Scottish sculptor Philip Jackson, the 2.75m (9ft) figure is based on a photo of Gandhi outside 10 Downing Street. Officially the memorial marked the 100th anniversary of Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa, but sceptics pointed out that its genesis had arisen the previous year when the UK government had done a deal to sell missiles to India. Gandhi’s great-grandson condemned the mismatch between his ancestor’s beliefs and the sale of arms, saying the two governments had agreed the statue as “a soothing balm to their consciences”. Seventy years after his assassination, Mahatma Gandhi’s enduring legacy of non-violent activism continues to be celebrated and physically commemorated in many parts of the globe. Yet increasing scrutiny of some of his views and actions, combined with misappropriation of his image by governments and businesses, means that new memorials may prove controversial. Jill Sinclair is a British landscape historian who spent four years living and working in India. She is a trustee of the Historic Gardens Foundation.
Far right: The new memorial to Gandhi in London’s Parliament Square, with the Palace of Westminster in the background.
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Right: Statue of Gandhi in his lawyer’s robes, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Above: Memorial outside the Indian Embassy, Washington DC.
“This Little Paradise”
British Library (Add.Or.2127).
By Josepha Richard
A study of aviaries offers an intriguing glimpse into cultural exchanges between 18th- and 19th-century China and the world.
n A Dissertation on Oriental Gardening published in 1773, Scottish-Swedish architect Sir William Chambers presented designs inspired by buildings he had seen in China, various examples of chinoiserie, and his own imagination. A prime example of an aviary built in the style promoted by Chambers could be found in Dropmore, Buckinghamshire in around 1830. This large building had side and front rooms enclosed by wire walls, topped by a dome-like centrepiece. Research has shown that the ceramic tiles used to decorate the aviary were directly imported from China. From the shape of these tiles, and the period, it seems certain that they came from the southern city of Canton (today Guangzhou). The Dropmore aviary provides us with a convenient comparison with aviaries built in China at the same period, and the tiles used invite us to retrace the origin of Sir William Chambers’s Chinese designs. Chambers visited China during a period known as the ‘Canton System’ (1757-1842), when Western trade was officially restricted to that city. Therefore, the Chinese34
inspired designs in his book must have come from gardens and residences in Canton. The building of gardens in the city was thriving, thanks to the wealth generated by trade with the Western world and East Asian countries. The Hong merchants, the intermediaries that Western traders had to go through, were some of the most prolific garden builders and aviary owners. The Hong merchants were named for the buildings where their trade was conducted: the hong, more commonly referred to as ‘Factories’. These were built in a row along the riverfront of the Pearl River, and Western traders used them as warehouses, residences and offices. Westerners were allowed to visit a limited number of sites in the suburbs on the opposite side of the river, which included the plant nurseries in Fa-tee (Huadi), as well as a temple and the Hong merchants’ residences and gardens in Honam (Henan). Apart from a few streets around the Factories, visitors were kept from most of the city proper on the northern bank, and were forbidden to enter the city walls or to bring their wives to Canton. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Opposite page: This drawing of a wealthy Chinese merchant’s garden was made by an unknown artist in Guangzhou around 1800-05. Above: The aviary at Dropmore depicted by Barbara Jones in 1971. Issue 37
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Tate Museum © Anthony Raymond.
The Canton System lasted until the Hong merchants’ monopoly was abolished at the end of the First Opium War (1839-1842) in the Treaty of Nanjing. Thanks to their frequent interactions, mutual respect and genuine friendship often flourished between Hong merchants and Western traders. The Chinese would organise ‘chopstick dinners’ in their homes to entertain foreign guests. In addition to offering banquets laden with Chinese and Western dishes and liquors and tours of their gardens, the Hong merchants engaged in casual exchanges of information. At the beginning of the 19th century, the head of Hong merchants Pan Khequa II notably provided Joseph Banks’s plant collectors with the moutan peony (Paeonia suffruticosa), as well as details about its cultivation. We know about the Pan family thanks to American trader Bryant Tilden who was on especially friendly terms with them. In his papers, Tilden described the Pan residence in Honam, including the family’s collection of paintings, antiques and ancient books. These possessions reveal that Pan family members aspired to elevate themselves beyond their merchant social circles and to reach the highest status of scholars – equivalent to European gentry. As part of this aspiration, they built and maintained beautiful gardens filled with a profusion of plants and animals. Tilden described Pan Khequa II’s passion for collecting birds and reptiles, and how they exchanged gifts with each other. Around 1818, Tilden wrote a long description of the fantastic aviary located within Pan Khequa II’s hong. At the time, such installations were an unusual sight for Western traders, who were often of a lower social status than their hosts: “This little paradise is his private retreat wherein no person ever enters unless invited. […] The aviary is wired, and fronts forming [sic] the open side of it – on one end of his counting room retreat – separated only by the wire netting partition. […] A reservoir of water above the aviary and outside of it as well as out of sight, supplies a curiously contrived fountain, so made as to play over and stream down the sides of little hills and dashing among the rocks making miniature water falls […] until they empty into a small fish pond, the bottom of which is studded with pebbles of all colors. Here a great variety of singing birds come to drink perched at the banks while small fishes come to the surface & look at them, seemingly asking ‘Ayah! Don’t drink up all the water!’ […]. English friends have presented here many rare birds brought from India and elsewhere, and many others have been procured from the interior of China. Here they
are, singing, hopping, & flying, most harmoniously together, & nothing but more room seems wanting to range in.” Pan Khequa II had obtained these birds through his contacts across China, and from his Western colleagues, who were eager to be in the good graces of powerful Hong merchants as a way to receive invitations to banquets that broke the monotony of their stay. Tilden’s description of this aviary should, therefore, be understood in the context of its time. In Europe, many had read the fairy-tale like descriptions of China attributed to Marco Polo, and the laudatory comments left by Jesuits resident in Beijing. However keen they might have been to verify these descriptions first-hand, traders had to reconcile the exotic, orientalist vision of China prevalent in the West, with the result of their limited access to Canton and its surroundings. Probably nowhere in Canton would chinoiserie and exotic descriptions correspond better with Chinese sites than in the Hong merchants’ residences and gardens. The latter became such a symbol of the Canton experience that local artists represented them in ‘export paintings’ for Western visitors to take away as souvenirs. An example is a painting made prior to 1805 of Pan Khequa II’s garden. In the gardens of Canton’s wealthy élite, many animals could be found in pens, cages and moving freely within the confines of a courtyard. The first recorded gardens in Chinese history, around the Shang (1600-1046 BCE) and Zhou (1046-256 BCE) dynasties, were hunting parks containing many precious animals. The American historian Edward H. Shafer explained in The Vermilion Bird (1967) that the peacock and pheasant had been avian symbols of southern China since at least the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Apart from the wealthy Pan family, it is difficult to know who else could afford an aviary. Thanks to Tilden, we know 35
“This Little Paradise” Josepha Richard.
Above: A peacock cage in Yuyin Shanfang, Panyu, Guangzhou. Below: ‘Garden, Canton’ by John Thomson is an albumen silver print made around 1866.
that in 1819 the Dutch Factory contained a monkey and several birds, most of which were imported from Dutch colonies. The only other recorded example of an aviary in the region before the Opium Wars was in nearby Macao. Since restrictions to their movements were quite severe, Westerners were usually in China to pursue a specific professional goal, be it trading in tea, serving as missionaries or collecting plants. Outside the trade season, most traders returned home or retired to Macao where their families could reside. Thus, Macao became a home from home for some long-term residents who yearned for the comforts of a permanent residence. The homes of individuals such as British trader and naturalist Thomas Beale (c1775-1841), became a source of interest for other Western visitors. Arriving in China in 1792 when he was 17 years old,
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Beale died in Macao after some 50 years of residence. There, he had his own personal ‘paradise’ built in the garden of his mansion. Whenever Beale appears in contemporary texts, authors tend to mention his aviary, which shared at least two features with Pan Khequa II’s: the structure was made of wire and one side was linked to a room inside the house. The most detailed description of it is found in George Bennett’s Wanderings in New South Wales, Batavia, Pedir Coast, Sumatra, and China (1833). Bennett starts his description as follows: “The great object of attraction at Macao, […] is the splendid aviary and gardens of T. Beale, Esq.” and continues with details of its construction and contents, such as that the aviary was made of “lattice-work of fine wire and surmounted by a dome at the summit”. The star of Beale’s aviary was without doubt a splendid bird of paradise, to which Bennett immediately gave Linnaeus’ name: Paradisaea apoda. By the 1830s when Bennett wrote his travel accounts, the Linnaean taxonomy was no longer a novelty, but had played a significant role in Western naturalists’ endeavours in China. When Joseph Banks sent out botanists and plant collectors on behalf of the Royal Society, those naturalists used the Linnaean system to make sense of new and littleknown Chinese plants, and then bring them back to Britain. Beale’s bird of paradise was not a native of China, but came from Indonesia. Its presence demonstrates once again that Canton and Macao were at the crossroads of a global flow of trade in goods, including plants and animals. Inside Beale’s aviary, the bird of paradise was secluded in its own private cage, so as to preserve its beauty. This practice can still be observed in one surviving example of a late 19th-century garden in the surroundings of Canton: the Yuyin Shanfang in Panyu. A peacock is kept in a stand-alone wooden birdcage in an important part of the scenery, in the main courtyard. Two examples of stand-alone aviaries could be found in 19th-century Canton after the end of the Canton System. In an early photograph attributed to British photographer John Thomson, a small aviary occupies a prominent spot in an unnamed garden. The aviary appears similar to Beale’s except for its smaller size and is made with lattices of fine wires and topped by a domed roof. The second example appears in a daguerreotype made by French customs inspector, Jules Itier, in the 1840s. Part of a diplomatic mission, Itier spent time in the home of one of the Chinese representatives: Pan Shicheng (also known as Pan Tsen Chen, and Puntinqua), a cousin of Pan Khequa II, owned arguably the largest and most famous garden in Canton. His Studio of the Immortals from the Seas and the Mountains (Haishan xianguan) was made up of a series of waterscapes connected by corridors and elegant pavilions. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Canadian Centre for Architecture.
Musée de la photographie, Essonne, France.
“This Little Paradise”
Above: Pan Tsen Chen’s house and aviary, 1844 (detail). This early daguerreotype by Jules Itier has been modified to make it more legible and reversed to show the correct orientation. Above right: ‘View of a two-storey building in a garden, Canton (now Guangzhou), China’ (detail). An anonymous albumen silver print, made between 1862 and 1879. Note the aviary on the far left.
Collection of Caleb Cushing, Library of Congress. Photo: Josepha Richard.
Itier’s views of the garden are scarcely legible, but one of them reveals a large stand-alone wire aviary with a square base and a dome-like pinnacle standing in water near the summer house. The aviary’s important location in the garden is confirmed by later views, such as a watercolour by George R. West and an anonymous photograph held by the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
It is uncertain whether the aviary in Pan Shicheng’s garden was typically Chinese, or whether it was based on examples built by Western traders. Some 19th-century Western observers boldly asserted that Chinese gardens of the period were modified for the pleasure of their foreign visitors, but we should treat such statements with caution. After all, the Hong merchants were in a powerful position until the end of the Canton System and, after the Opium Wars, the local population was understandably wary of foreigners. It was perhaps not desirable for Chinese garden owners to imitate an antagonist’s architectural style. In fact, imitation seems to have gone the other way. In late 18th-century Britain, many gardens were adorned with ‘Chinese’ elements, such as the aviary at Dropmore, which combined two design elements found in Canton at the time: wire panels and a dome. Aviaries and their contents offer an alluring reflection of the intricacies of exchange between China and the world in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although the interest in chinoiserie faded in the West after the Opium Wars, the display of bird cages in gardens is still part of everyday life in southern China. Dr Josepha Richard (University of Bristol) is an art historian specialising in the art of Chinese gardens, with a specific interest in studying SinoWestern interactions under the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Left: ‘Puntinqua’s country villa near Canton’, by George R. West.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Le Jardin Exotique Roscoff, France
he Jardin Exotique is a short drive from the main ferry port and marina at Roscoff in the Finistère department of Brittany and makes a delightful place in which to while away an hour or two. It receives no public funding and survives on the modest entry fees and sales of plants grown on site. Access to the small sales area is free and worth exploring at the beginning or end of your visit. To the left of the entrance is a gallery with a changing selection of art and a posh polytunnel displaying plantings of cacti and succulents, such as a nationally recognised collection of Echeveria. The garden itself was the brainchild of Daniel Person and Louis Kerdilès who, in 1986, laid out the pathways that twist around mounds planted with some 3,500 plant species from South Africa, South America, New Zealand and Australia. New species are introduced every year to
Above: A climb to the top of the 18m (60 feet) peak is rewarded by views of the ferry port on one side and a pretty bay on the other. Below: The Jardin Botanique contains ﬁne specimens of Protea cynaroides (‘giant protea’): the national plant of South Africa.
ensure the garden remains fresh, and there’s enough of interest here to warrant visits in the autumn as well as in the warmer months. Although not especially large at 16,000m² (about 4 acres), the Jardin Exotique is on the register of France’s Conservatoire des Collections Végétales Spécialisées (CCVS), roughly the equivalent of the UK’s ‘Plant Heritage’. This not-for-proﬁt organisation works with private and public bodies to protect plants and preserve biodiversity in the wild and in gardens. The Jardin Exotique is noteworthy for having a CCVS National Collection of Aeonium genus and the Restionaceae family, as well as CCVS Agreed Collections of Kniphofia, Protea and Melianthus.
In addition, the garden holds over a hundred different species of Eucalyptus and well as Amaryllis belladonna, Banksia, Callistemon (bottlebrush), Grevillea, Hakea, Melaleuca and Passiflora, plus assorted tree ferns and palms. The plants are not grouped by continent, but arranged in a way that looks natural and appealing. Such a ﬁne array of southern hemisphere plants is perhaps an unexpected ﬁnd on the rugged Breton coast. The garden is located at the edge of a wooded bay on a high point called the Roc’h Hievec, which offers some protection from the easterly winds. In this micro-climate, it is unusual for the temperature to drop below 0°C at the rock itself or -2°C in the rest of the
Left: There are benches thoughtfully placed throughout the garden. From this shelter one can enjoy views of the sea and a splendid Echium pininana.
Left and centre: Johanne Wright.
Below: A goldﬁsh pond with a waterfall is an unexpected sight up a steep hill.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
By Janet Ravenscroft INFORMATION LE JARDIN EXOTIQUE & BOTANIQUE DE ROSCOFF Lieu-dit Roc'h Hievec 29680 Roscoff France Tel: +33 (0)9 72 99 11 77 www.jardinexotiqueroscoff.com/cms Open daily March to November. (Check website for times.) Closed December to February. Entry €6; concessions apply and season tickets are available. Payment is not accepted by bank or credit card.
garden. The site receives some 88cm (2ft 9in) of rain annually, most of which fails between October and February. There are plenty of benches under the trees, which provide welcome shade on a hot day. As there is no cafeteria, make sure you take water if the weather is warm. It is a pleasant place to wander and my companion and I happily spent two hours there, much of which was taken up by admiring the view from the top of the massive granite outcrop at the heart of the garden and reached via a steep staircase. In the main part of the garden we discovered a large pond containing gold ﬁsh. Here, the sound of water from waterfalls and fountains adds to the tropical atmosphere.
Above: Paths wind around the garden, revealing something of interest at every turn. Above left: Agave Americana is just one of many plants available from the nursery.
Just over half the garden is accessible to wheelchair users; the rest is rather perilous and/or impassable because the paths are narrow, steep or interrupted by lumps of granite or tree roots. Bearing all that in mind, it is still worth a visit. The oﬃcial recommendation is that visitors in wheelchairs should be accompanied by another person. There is a reduced entry fee of €3 for wheelchair users and no charge for carers. All in all, this is an interesting and attractive collection that deserves to be better known.
AMENITIES There is free parking near the entrance. The plant sale area is just within the garden and is open to all. Although there are no catering facilities on site, there are perfectly adequate toilets. Given the garden’s location, there is quite a lot of climbing so wear sensible shoes. Two-hour guided tours are available and can be booked at the ticket desk.
The Jardin Botanique packs a great deal of interest into a comparatively small site. There are panels throughout the garden providing information about the history of the plants in French and English. Anyone passing through Roscoff should make time for a visit.
Left: e boulders that are a feature of this part of Brittany form attractive shady banks where Mesembryanthemum and other South African plants thrive. All photographs by the author except where indicated.
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Books from Around the World
Head Gardeners By Ambra Edwards Pimpernel. 240 pages. £35.00. ISBN 978-1-910258-74-3.
Rarely do garden books move me to tears, but certain pages in Head Gardeners were so touching, I found myself welling up. For this is a book which celebrates a gardener’s resilience and imagination as well as the traditional gardening virtues. Almost all the 14 head gardeners included have faced personal challenges (one is a reformed drug addict) and all are far removed from the conventional image of the crusty, old-fashioned tyrant beloved of ﬁction from Wodehouse to Peter Rabbit. None of them is resistant to change: Troy Scott Smith even wants to rework the iconic White Garden at Sissinghurst. Many resent the expectation that they will drop hands-on gardening to organise events or chat to journalists – though Ambra Edwards points out that historically head gardeners also had to be managers, and she describes Michael Walker at Trentham as someone who is clearly happy with a managerial role. She is brilliant at inserting garden history quite seamlessly into descriptions of the gardeners and their gardens. Her panegyric on Victorian bedding makes clear how thrilling it was: “Here were new forms, new textures and, above all, brilliant new colours.” 40
I wish that more women had been featured: Andrea Brunsendorf, for instance, who did so much for the gardens of the Inner Temple. Still, it is a woman who is the real hero of this book: Carol Sales, who works at Headley Court, a rehabilitation centre for injured armed forces personnel. e value of horticulture as therapy for mental and physical ills has never been more touchingly demonstrated. Perhaps the most important point made by this thoughtful and well-written book concerns the lack of recognition given to head gardeners as the artists they are, combining the skills of hand, eye and brain to create major works of art. As Andrew Woodall, photographed (left) at Broughton Grange by Charlie Hopkinson, says: “…it’s only if you live and breathe it that you’ll put up with the long hours, the low pay, the lack of status, the sheer uncoolness of it....” Gillian Mawrey
Mainstreaming Landscape Through the European Landscape Convention Edited by Karsten Jorgensen, Morten Clemetsen, Kine Halvorsen Thoren and Tim Richardson Routledge. 199 pages. £37.99. ISBN 978-1-138-92230-3.
e European Landscape (or Florence) Convention was an initiative of the Council of Europe, not the EU, so aﬀects 41 European states not 28. It was signed in 2000 and came into eﬀect in 2004 – though of course landscapes had been protected in some countries long before that (in Switzerland as far back as the 1860s). e ELC’s aim was both to protect landscapes and to increase awareness of their cultural value – and this book reﬂects on the good it has done and what needs doing in the future. One interesting theme which almost every one of the 20 authors considers is that of perception – “e Convention …. emphasises that landscape is constituted when people perceive it”. In eﬀect, that diﬀerent countries do not always mean the same thing by “landscape”. Even professionals may see the same landscape diﬀerently, according to
whether they are ecologists, landscape architects or cultural historians. e main message, though, is one that this magazine has always worked for. “Regardless of these diﬀerences…the most important point is that there is some progress in the development of deﬁnitions contributing to understanding across borders.” GM
Cultural Landscapes of South Asia Edited by Kapila D. Silva and Amita Sinha Routledge. 276 pages. £95.00. ISBN 978-1-138-94757-3.
Some years ago I met a Frenchman who had just been to Sigiriya and I well remember how diﬃcult it was to convince him that what he had visited as an archaeological site was also a landscape. For him, it was the ruined remains of a royal palace, set on a rock, with nothing of the garden about it, Le Nôtre not having worked in Sri Lanka in the 5th century. Sigiriya is one of the sites discussed in this book and his attitude encapsulates its subject: what is a landscape and how should it be appreciated, conserved and managed? e authors deal with places of very diﬀerent kinds, urban and rural, in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, setting out to challenge “the prevalent views of heritage management in South Asia that are entrenched in colonial legacies...” e various authors are critical of the idea of “the fenced-oﬀ monument-in-agarden” and suggest that heritage sites should be viewed in a context that is not purely historic. Western ideas on restoration have, in fact, changed a good deal since Lord Curzon tidied up the landscape around the Taj Mahal but their plea for a more holistic view of cultural signiﬁcance, and for conservation to balance static ideas of cultural signiﬁcance with more evolving intangible heritage, is a potent one. Given the hefty price, the book is poorly edited and illustrated only in black and white – but it should be read because the debate about whether the same ideas of conservation are appropriate for every part of the world is relevant to places far beyond South Asia. GM HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Books from Around the World The Book of Flowers By Pierre-Joseph Redouté. Edited and introduced by H. Walter Lack. Taschen. 608 pages. £50.00. ISBN 978-3-8365-6893-7 (English, French, German edition). ISBN 978-3-8365-7061-9 (English, Italian, Spanish edition).
Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840) is famous for his paintings of roses, particularly those he made of the Empress Joséphine’s collection at Malmaison; but he painted many other plants, fruit as well as ﬂowers, and in some, the redcurrants reproduced in this book (left), for instance, he even included insects, à la Maria Sibylla Merian. The introduction by Dr H. Walter Lack starts almost two centuries before Redouté’s time, with the interest in botany which exploded in early 17th-century France under Louis XIII, led particularly by the king’s brother, Gaston d’Orléans. Botanists and noble patrons, as well as creating botanic gardens, including what is now the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, employed artists to record rare plants in paint, originally on vellum and later on paper. Pierre-Joseph Redouté was the most proliﬁc of these painters – thousands of his original works survive in various collections – and, because what Dr Lack calls his “delicate and pleasing style” was allied to “accuracy and faithfulness to nature”, his work has always been respected by botanists as well as loved by the public. He was much published in his lifetime, as well as in many volumes since, and this compilation aims to show what plants were being grown in Parisian gardens and greenhouses at the turn of the 19th century. GM
Influential Australian Garden People Their Stories By Anne Vale Heriscapes. 200 pages. A$49.99. ISBN 978-0-646-95836-1.
It is trite but true to say that the historic gardens of tomorrow are being created by the designers of today. It seems a good idea, therefore, to examine the designers of today to ﬁnd out their techniques and their philosophy. What would we not give for a contemporaneous in-depth interview with Le Nôtre or Capability Brown? Anne Vale has taken Australia’s bestknown garden people of today and provided not only their own account of their work but an assessment of each by their peers. Australia makes a good ﬁeld for study because garden designers there have long had to ﬁnd a way of blending the traditional taste for garden design, and even plants imported from Britain, with incorporating native species and catering for the widely diﬀerent climate zones. Some of the subjects may fade from memory but one or two might prove to be the next Edna Walling or Ellis Stones. Vale’s approach could proﬁtably be followed in the northern hemisphere. Richard Mawrey Issue 37
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Longford Castle The Treasures and the Collections By Amelia Smith Unicorn Press. 200 pages. £40.00. ISBN 978-1-910787-68-7.
Longford Castle in Wiltshire is not one of England’s better-known stately homes, which is surprising as it is not only a sumptuous Elizabethan house but contains an amazing collection of ﬁrst-rate pictures and statues and is set in a garden by Charles Bridgeman (1690-1738). Its Tudor and Stuart owners, the Coleraine family, created a magniﬁcent formal garden but when Longford was acquired by the Bouverie family, Huguenot refugees who later became the Earls of Radnor, they swept away the formality and adopted the ‘naturalistic’ landscape style in which Bridgeman was a precursor of Capability Brown. Longford Castle: The Treasures and the Collections is beautifully produced and well researched. As its title suggests, the book majors on the collections but it also has much to say of the gardens which are in excellent condition. Pictured right, under a columned canopy is a statue of Flora, which may be by John Cheere. Ursula Brown
Find more book reviews in the HGF Newsletter emailed to subscribers four times a year.
Good News from France, Italy, India and Northern Ireland.
A Garden to be Explored
In a year when Britain is celebrating the centenary of women’s suﬀrage, it seems appropriate to honour a woman who embraced emancipation and gained the admiration of the most crusty misogynists.
Dame Freya Stark (1893-1993) was someone for whom the word ‘intrepid’ might have been coined. Self-taught in Arabic, Persian and other languages, in the 1920s and 30s she explored areas of Iraq, Iran and the Arabian peninsula where no European men, let alone women, had ever ventured, including the fabled Valley of the Assassins. In 1941 Stark, who was herself halfItalian, inherited and moved into a villa near Asolo, 73km (45 miles) north of Venice. e villa, now known as the Villa Freia in her honour, already had an old garden which incorporated some
of the ruins of Asolo’s Roman theatre. Stark transformed the 1ha garden into a space which visitors described as ‘magical’ and, somewhat oddly, ‘Wordsworthian’. e Roman ruins were incorporated into the design which featured towering hornbeam trees and box hedges, with wisteria, roses, camellias, hellebores, irises, delphiniums and peonies. Grapes, ﬁgs and plums for the table were also cultivated. After Stark’s death at the age of 100 the garden decayed, but it has now been fully restored by Italian landscaper Kristian Buziol. At ﬁrst he only had old photographs to go on but then he met an aged retainer of Dame Freya who had a clear memory of what had been there in her day. Now restored to the glories of its heyday, the garden can be visited on several days a year through a local travel agency, BellAsolo (www.bellasolo.it).
mid-19th century this was a formal terraced garden with elaborate parterres full of highly coloured bedding plants separated by gravel paths. e garden was much altered over the years, including by the insertion of a large statue of Neptune, as in this photograph taken in 2003, but more recently the garden had become a bit lacklustre. Now, with the support of local donors and the Ulster Garden Scheme, £37,500 has been raised and head gardener Andy Dainty is leading a team of volunteers to revive the garden and recreate the colourful splendour of Victorian times. 3-D scanning has been used to create the dimensions of no fewer than
61 new beds, and 120 tons of soil and 4,000 bulbs have been deployed. Spring and summer will now see a game of tones to match the Game of Thrones. See visiting details on www.nationaltrust.org.uk
What could form a greater contrast than that between a Victorian sunken garden, bright with spring and summer ﬂowers, and the mock-medieval murder and mayhem of the Game of Thrones television series? Yet the elegant Georgian mansion of Castle Ward overlooking Strangford Lough in County Down, Northern Ireland, is home to both. Much of the internationally famous television series was shot at Castle Ward, and the National Trust, which owns it, has much beneﬁtted from visits by fans of GoT. Garden lovers, on the other hand, might prefer the more tranquil setting of its parkland and its famous sunken Windsor Garden. When created in the 42
Photograph courtesy National Trust/Nick Meez.
Game of Tones
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Rarities Recovered Travellers taking the ferry in or out of the French cross-Channel ports are usually in too much of a hurry to stop and visit nearby gardens – which is a pity as there are many good places to see. La Fauconnière, in Cherbourg, is a private botanic garden, the result of collecting by several generations of the Favier family. Lawyer Alfred Favier bought 7ha of steeply sloping scrub land in 1869 and at ﬁrst set about planting any tree that could cope with the cold salt-laden winds. In the 1880s, advised by Cecil Guerney, who was British consul in Cherbourg, he began to add more botanically interesting plants, and this policy was continued by his son Léon, who made the ﬁrst Eucalypt trials in France. (ere are now 33 species and ﬁve hybrids in the garden.) e collections were almost completely destroyed in the Second
World War, but Léon’s son, Dr Charles Favier, replanted and added more than 7,000 plants, travelling the world to bring back rarities, including rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias, adapted to the mild, damp climate. Charles’s son Alain took over in 1993 and enhanced the garden’s remarkable collections of plants at the limits of rusticity, particularly those from the Himalayas, the Far East, South America and New Zealand. e garden was listed as historically interesting in 1978 and currently contains many rare species as well as several that were introductions to France – Magnolia Zenii, for instance, which may be extinct in the wild. After Alain’s death, La Fauconnière (which is also known as La Roche
Fauconnière and as Dr Favier’s Garden) was bought in 2011 by the Conservatoire du Littoral Normand. Unfortunately, it was allowed to become neglected and covered in brambles – but a group was set up to save it, and last February 128 municipal gardeners, guided by specialist botanists, spent a week clearing the site, with wonderful results. Now the city of Cherbourg has oﬀered substantial funding and two permanent gardeners, so, once an inventory is made, La Fauconnière might be open to the public again soon.
Lucknow Relieved – Again e Vilayati Bagh in the northern Indian city of Lucknow was created in the 1820s, probably by Ghazi-ud-din
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
Haider (1769-1827), the ﬁrst king of Oudh. It was planted in the European style, in honour of his third wife, Mary Short, daughter of a doctor from the East India Company, who converted to Islam on their marriage and was known as Vilayati Begum, which meant the foreign (or British) queen. Located on the banks of the Gomti river, the square garden covered 4ha (10 acres) and was enclosed by high walls to provide privacy for the ladies of the court. e western wall had a massive ornamental gateway, with a smaller entrance facing the river to the east. Inside were pleasure grounds suitable for royal parties and entertainments, with a charming summer
house, and mass plantings of trees and ﬂowers of European origin. Vilayati Bagh was all but destroyed during the uprising of 1857 and became best known for three tombs of British oﬃcers who died during the ﬁghting and were buried in the garden. Today, it is being restored by the Lucknow branch of the Archaeological Survey of India. Overgrown brush and weeds have been cleared, walls built and heritage structures uncovered. e next phase, budgeted to cost 48 lakh (£50,000), is to restore the ruins and plant the garden with ornamental shrubs and ﬂowers that would have been popular in the 19th century. Jill Sinclair 43
Bad News from Austria, England, Malta and the United States.
Wimbledon Badly Served
Wimbledon is famous the world over for its Grand Slam tennis tournament held every summer – but how many people are aware that this leafy south London suburb also contains a Capability Brown park? Brown was commissioned in 1765 by the 1st Earl Spencer to redesign his Wimbledon Manor estate where both André Mollet and Charles Bridgeman had worked for previous owners. Over 20 years, Brown’s improvements included a large lawn in front of the house, the damming of two streams to create a lake, and the planting of 50 clumps of trees as well as belts of woodland. The 4th Earl Spencer sold the property in 1861, heralding a period of decline and
dismemberment during which much of it was built on as London spread outwards. A railway line was constructed across the eastern side in 1889, central parts of the park were leased or purchased by private sports clubs, and the local council bought the lake and some of the land in 1912 for the laying out of a public park and recreation ground. In 1922 the private All-England Lawn Tennis Club was established on the western part. Today, Earl Spencer’s 480ha are reduced to just 60ha, of which 27ha are public park. is contains Brown’s 9ha lake, a water sports centre, an athletics track, public tennis courts, a bowls club, a crazy golf course, beach volleyball courts, a picnic area and children’s play facilities. Because of its historic importance, Wimbledon Park is listed Grade II* on Historic England’s Register – and in 2016 it was added to HE’s At Risk list as well. e reasons include the silting up of the lake and Brown’s vistas being obscured by over-mature trees, under-managed vegetation and obtrusive new buildings.
Such problems stem largely from the divided ownership, with owners having diﬀerent requirements. The site’s current role for sport and recreation may also be a higher priority among local residents and politicians than its historic signiﬁcance. In 2016, the London Borough of Merton, which owns the public park, commissioned a masterplan and is now working with the other owners to improve the condition and appearance of the lake. But Brown’s landscape will continue to deteriorate unless all the owners are prepared to work together to come up with a shared vision and a historically informed strategy for what remains of the Brown landscape in its entirety.
Have Pity in Pietà
reats to historic gardens can be internal or external. Sadly, sometimes they are both. One of Malta’s more interesting gardens was created by John Hookham Frere (sometimes spelled Frère) (17691846). Frere was a politician and diplomat 44
who played important roles in Britain’s ﬁght against Napoleon. Crucially, he was ambassador to Madrid when Napoleon invaded Spain in 1808, but he fell from favour after advising the British army to retreat via Galicia and not Portugal, which led to the disaster of Coruña. He married a rich countess with delicate health and in 1820 retired to Malta, where he acquired what is now the Villa Frère on the sea front at Pietà. Within its 8.5 acre (4 ha) grounds he created a magniﬁcent garden embellished with well-heads and carved benches – and with an arch known as ‘the gibbet’.
In the late 20th century the gardens fell into complete abandon and a large part was taken over to build a primary school (with a helipad!). Eventually a conservation group, the Friends of Villa Frère, was formed under architect Edward Said to save the remaining third, the Upper Garden, now listed Grade 2 with Grade 1 structures such as the tempietto. Unfortunately, the work has received a serious setback as a ten-storey retirement home is to be built immediately adjacent to the gardens, destroying the sea views as well as what remains of the ambience of the gardens. HISTORIC GARDENS Review
The Shadows Lengthen The skyscraper has been a dramatic feature of our cities for well over a century and those who build skyscrapers, particularly for residential use, like them to have good views. After all who would not like to overlook Central Park, Kensington Gardens or the Luxembourg Gardens? Skyscrapers, however, cast long shadows, and these can be highly detrimental to parks and green spaces, causing a problem that is poorly recognised by the public and frequently overlooked by planners. Whether it is Central Park itself, where skyscraper blight has long been the subject of unavailing protest by high-proﬁle objectors from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis onwards, or Green Gardens, Croydon, a popular park in Outer London, demand for housing, jobs and economic progress leaves the environment way behind.
Two stark examples from the north-eastern United States highlight the problem. In Massachusetts there is actually a 1990 state law designed to prevent the adverse effects of shadow on green spaces but, sadly, this is subject to being over-ridden by politicians. Boston Common (above), created in 1836, is one of the oldest and most famous parks in the USA, older than Central Park and contemporaneous with the earliest parks in the United Kingdom and continental Europe. A proposed 700-foot (215m) tower would undoubtedly breach the state’s shadow law but Governor Charlie Barker has signed an exemption. Unless it is blocked by Boston’s Planning Department, the damage will be done. In downtown New York, the charming ‘vest-pocket’ Greenacre Park (right), designed by Masao Kinoshita nearly 50 years ago, is seriously threatened by the
Baroque not Beer Only three terraced gardens with water features remain in Austria from the High Baroque period. One is the garden around Castle Schlosshof to the east of Vienna, the second is the Belvedere Garden in central Vienna, made by Prince Eugen of Savoy, and the third is the Schwarzenberg Garden which lies very near the Belvedere Garden. The Schwarzenberg Garden consists of four plains beginning in the south main axis of the garden palace. This main axis still exists, but since the second half of the 18th century areas in landscape garden style were implanted in the baroque scheme. The so-called upper cascade, an impressive baroque construction accompanied by a huge bassin, lies under the plain. This plain also changed in Issue 37
HISTORIC GARDENS Review
City Council’s plans to rezone the Greater Midtown East area, which will result in tall buildings halving the available light for the people who use the park and the plants that grow in it. Homes and oﬃces are, of course, important but, then, so are the green spaces we need to breathe.
landscape garden forms, but under the ground there still exist two water reservoirs since the baroque time. One of the four parts of the Schwarzenberg Garden and the baroque water system will be partially destroyed if a project to build a restaurant in this area is allowed. There is already a small restaurant, but the new plans propose building a mini-brewery and a new restaurant, which will have seating for 880 diners. This includes 224 places in the garden and another 260 on a new outside terrace on pilotes. Schwarzenberg is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Historic Centre of Vienna site and all parts of it, apart from the plants, are protected by Austrian federal law. Furthermore, the whole garden is protected under Viennese zoning category. Unfortunately there is still the possibility of building on a small part within the protected area. It is here that the new restaurant will be erected. The relevant Viennese planning authorities have given their agreement this project. The only missing license is the license of the manufacturing plant. Eva Berger 45
From Dr Sarah Rutherford
Syon Park, an Arcadian landscape on the ames in Brentford, west London, is once again under threat at the hands of its owner, the Duke of Northumberland. e Duke is planning to move a series of allotments (small plots of land rented by local people for growing vegetables) away from their current site outside the Park and replace them with 37 new plots in the middle of this ‘Capability’ Brown masterpiece. is will allow developers to build apartments where the allotments were, supposedly to fund works to the estate. e new site for the allotments would be next to one of Brown’s lakes and Robert Adam’s striking Lion gateway (listed Grade I). e gateway was meant to be restored as a condition for receiving planning permission to erect the large and ugly hotel now adjacent to it in the Park, but this work has never been done. Public grant aid was awarded several years ago for restoration of the area of the Park that is now to be turned into allotments. e local authority refused the allotment scheme in 2017 after some stiﬀ lobbying by the Gardens Trust and local groups and individuals at a public meeting; but, having won that battle, these Davids now have to re-engage with the Goliath of major construction interests in further conﬂict. It is so dispiriting to have to ﬁght time and time again as developers chance their arm, seeing parks as a soft touch – and so often get away with it. Buckinghamshire, UK
From Martha Dobson Jackson Park is one of the glories of Chicago. In the early 1870s the city embarked on an ambitious plan to create two enormous public parks connected by a mile long (1.5km) boulevard, the Midway Plaisance. Chicago was a wealthy city and could aﬀord the best. It called in Frederick Law Olmsted Snr and Calvert Vaux to design the parks, the only parks designed by the two of them outside New York State. Swamp land next to Lake Michigan was drained and turned into picturesque landscapes with lakes and other water features. e larger park, nearly 600 acres (240ha) in extent, is Jackson Park, named for President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837). It has been listed since 1972 – but this seems by no means proof against a President intent on his ‘legacy’. In August 2016 the Barack Obama Foundation announced that it had chosen Jackson Park for the site of the Barack Obama Presidential Center. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a longtime associate of Obama, corralled the Chicago Park 46
District, the City Council and the Illinois legislature, and decided to conﬁscate some 21 acres (9ha) of the park, the ﬁrst time publicly owned land has been seized for a presidential legacy center. Chicagoans were told they were going to get a publiclyowned library in exchange, but the center will actually belong to a private foundation. It will be graced by a 180ft (55m) monolithic structure, visible throughout the park. Although public protests have led to the design of the building being modiﬁed, and those for a massive aboveground car park being scrapped, the Center will still deprive Chicagoans of a signiﬁcant slice of their park and cause its ambience to be irretrievably altered (and not for the better). Chicago, Illinois, USA
From Eloïse Debreuil Nick Ward’s article on the 1987 Great Storm (HGR 36) concentrated on how it aﬀected the south-east of England. It is worth mentioning that parts of France also suﬀered a great deal of destruction. Brittany and Normandy were badly hit and even the park at Versailles, although well inland, lost 3,500 trees including a Sophora planted near the Trianon before the time of Marie-Antoinette. Dreux, France
From James Lambert I was interested in Richard Farrar’s persuasive article in HGR 36 about the diﬃculties of visiting historic gardens in a wheelchair – but I would like to suggest that owners may face problems too, particularly where visitor numbers are too few to produce suﬃcient income to pay for the required outlay for improvements. Last summer, on a visit to France, I had hoped to see the historic château of Luynes, near Tours. Unfortunately, in spite of investment over previous years in a modern garden in the moat designed to attract more visitors, the owner, the Duc de Luynes, had decided in 2016 to close the whole site to the public because he could not aﬀord the cost of updating to the new norms for entry for handicapped people. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
From Harry Rains On the subject of using a wheelchair to go round a garden, it is often forgotten that, after an accident, Humphry Repton had to use a wheelchair at the end of his life. London, NW10, UK HISTORIC GARDENS Review
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