The Garden Guide

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

German Winter Gardens

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324. Public winter gardens appear to have originated in Berlin soon after the peace of 1814; and there are scarcely any, excepting those of that city, some at Potsdam, one or two at Vienna, and one at Strasburg, in France. They are the invention of M. Bouche, whose garden, however, is long since gone to decay, and the principal establishment of this description at Berlin is now that of M. Teichmann. The Berlin winter gardens are simply large greenhouses, or what would be called in England orangeries, with paved floors, a lofty ceiling, plastered like that of a room, and upright windows in front. The air is heated by stoves, which are supplied with fuel from behind. On the floor are placed, here and there, large orange trees, myrtles, and various New Holland plants, in boxes. The plants are mostly such as have a single stem of at least three or four feet in height, and round the stem and over the boxes a table is formed by properly contrived boards; so that the tree appears to be growing out of the centre of the table. These tables, which are sometimes round, and sometimes square, are for the use of the guests, either to take refreshments upon, or for pamphlets and newspapers. Sometimes on each table there is a circle of handsome odoriferous flowers, such as hyacinths, narcissuses, mignonette, &c., in pots, round the stem of the tree; in other cases there is no table, but the box is covered with beautiful flowering plants: and in some parts of the floor, one handsome tree in the middle is surrounded by several smaller trees and plants; so as to form a mass or clump of verdure and flowers, such as we see in pleasure-grounds. The flowers which are generally found in these winter gardens, throughout the winter, are hyacinths, narcissuses, ranunculuses, tulips, crocuses, roses, heaths, camellias, acacias, epacrises, corrï¾µas, &c, There are also various climbers, curious or showy stove plants, pine-apples in fruit, cactuses, &c, and sometimes even hardy fruit trees in pots, which have been forced, the latter both in flower and in fruit. The proprietors of the gardens have generally small forcing stoves, for the purpose of bringing forward and keeping up their supplies. It is almost needless to say that in these gardens or orangeries there are plenty of seats and small-movable tables; there are also, generally, bands of music, a reciter of poetry, a reader, a lecturer or some other person or party to supply vocal or intellectual entertainment; and short plays have even been acted on the Sundays. In the evening the whole is illuminated, and on certain days of the week the music and illuminations are on a grander scale than ordinary. In some of these orangeries there are separate saloons, with billiard tables for ladies who object to the smoke of tobacco, also for card-playing, and for select parties. If you enter these gardens in the early part of the morning, during the winter season, you will find gentlemen reading the newspapers, taking chocolate, and talking politics; after three o'clock, you will see ladies and gentlemen, and people of every description, sitting among the trees, talking or reading, and smoking; or with punch, grog, coffee, beer, or wine before them. In the saloons, you will see those gentlemen and ladies who cannot bear tobacco; which, however, in some orangeries, is not allowed, and in others is only permitted till a certain time in the day. When the audience leave the theatre in the evening, a great number of well-dressed people, of both sexes, are in the habit of visiting these gardens before they go home, to see the beauty of the vegetation when brilliantly illuminated by artificial light, and to talk of the play and the players.