The Garden Landscape Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 3: European Gardens (500AD-1850)

St Petersburg villa gardens

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456. Villas in the neighbourhood of St. Petersburgh. The Strelna road lies to the north of the capital; and an uninterrupted line of sumptuous palaces, built in every variety of chaste, fanciful, and imitative architecture, flanks the right side of it, while, on the left, fields, with many clumps of trees and brushwood, separate it from the Gulf. Most of the country residences belonging to the nobility and gentry of St. Petersburgh have gardens and pleasure-grounds in front of and around them; and some few have a piece of artificial water, or a branch of the Neva, passing through the grounds. Many are large, consisting of two and three stories; a few only have one story; and affect the form of the Italian villa. The prevailing colour with which the houses are painted is yellow; the columns, pilasters, and architraves being white, and the roof of a copperas green. In front of the gardens, and immediately on the border of the road, a lofty post bears inscribed on a small square board the name and rank of the proprietor. The magnificent house of Count Scheremetow, with a church annexed to it, containing a small but rich chapel, open all day to such as are devoutly inclined, much in the style of the oratories or sanctuaries to be found in catholic countries; the villa of the late Mons. Narischkin; and the palace of Prince Sherbatov, which has, however, the disadvantage of being too near the road, Dr. Granville observes, were among those objects which most attracted his attention. This line of villas and chateaus, to which some of the most distinguished families resident in the capital come to seek a retreat during the heat of a short-lived summer, is here and there interrupted by a small village, having the appearance of greatness, in which country lodgings and temporary residences are sought by the less wealthy or more humble class of citizens during the fine season. On the left, the distance at every verst is marked on very high marble obelisks, which serve, at the same time, as an embellishment to the road. (Granville's Travels in Russia, &c., vol. ii. p. 412.)