The Garden Guide

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

Het Loo garden design

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154. As a specimen of the Dutch style of laying out grounds in the seventeenth century, we shall here give a short account of the palace and gardens at Loo (fig. 32.), during the time of William III., abridged from Harris's Description of Loo, 4to, London, 1699. The foundation of the palace of Loo was laid by Mary II., of England, about 1690, and it was completed by William during the seven years' war. Dr. Harris describes it as ranking with the first palaces in England and on the Continent. �The gardens are,� he says, �a work of wonderful magnificence, most worthy of so great a monarch; a work of prodigious expense, infinite variety, and curiosity; and, after nine years' labour by abundance of workmen, they were, some years ago, entirely finished and brought to perfection in all respects.� The situation is on the east side of a large sandy heath, in the province of Guelderland, and twelve leagues from Utrecht. The heath is said to be an excellent country for hunting, fowling, and hawking; a large decoy, and six large fish-ponds, �somewhat after the model of those in Hyde Park,� supply ducks, teal, and fish.a, The palace has a broad green walk in front between a double row of oaks half a mile long, and ter minating at each end in a gate of iron rails between coupled columns. Directly in front of the gate which enters the court of the palace are three avenues, or green walks, between trees, upwards of a mile is length. b, c, The stables, which are of great extent, and comprise coach-houses, a guard-house, a riding-house, &c. d, Domestic offices, including extensive lodgings for the servants of visitors. e, Orangery. f, Fountain. g, Lower garden, having a terrace walk on three sides, ascended by steps. h, Upper garden, separated from the lower garden by canals, by a low wall, and by a broad cross walk, planted with oak trees. The fountain in this upper garden has 33 jets, and the middle one throws up the water 45 feet high. There is another fountain, from which the water rises in the form of a peacock's tail; near which are two large porticoes or semicircular cloisters. i. The king's garden, with a large fountain. k, Bowling-green. l, The queen's garden, having a fountain similar to that of the king's. Adjoining this garden south ward there are various arbour walks, with five fountains in the middle of as many parterres. m, The king's wilderness or labyrinth of clipped hedges, with sandy walks between. n, The queen's wilderness or labyrinth of retirement, in which are fountains, statues, walks, &c. o, The old hoof, court, or castle, the residence of the Seigneur de Laeckhuysen, till the property was purchased by William. p, The voliere, or fowl-garden. q, The viver, vivarium, or park, containing a fountain, and �divers pleasant and long green walks, nurseries of young trees, groves, and canals; and westwards of this park there is a fine grove for retirement, called The Queen's Grove.� Of the trees, shrubs, and flowers planted in these gardens, very little is said. In the lower garden the slopes of turf are described as being crowned with junipers cut into pyramids, and intermixed with curious shrubs. One of the numerous basins of water is ornamented with �a pine-apple cut in stone;� another with the celestial globe, and one with the terrestrial, having Europe, Asia, Africa, and America distinctly marked on it. The parterres are said to contain divers figures in box, with beds of flowers and shrubs of Alth�a frutex (Hibiscus Syriacus), all cut into pyramids. �In the spring there is a variety of the finest tulips, hyacinths, ranunculuses, anemones, auriculas, narcissuses, jonquils, &c. In the summer there are double poppies of all colours, gillyflowers, larkspurs, &c. In the autumn, the sunflower, nasturtium, stocks, marigolds, &c. On the walls are peaches, apricots, cherries, pears, figs, plums, muscadine grapes, &c. The hedges are chiefly of Dutch elms; and the avenues of oaks, elms, and limes. The figures into which the trees and shrubs are cut, are, for the most part, pyramids. On the walls fresco paintings are introduced in various places between the trees. In the arbour walks of the queen's garden are seats, and opposite to them windows, through which views can be had of the fountains, statues, and other objects in the open garden. The parterres in the queen's garden are surrounded by hedges of Dutch elm about four feet high. The seats and prop-work of all the arbours, and the trellis-work on the fruit-tree walls, are painted green. All along the gravel walks, and round the middle fountain, are placed orange trees and lemon trees in portable wooden frames, and flower-pots about them.� �In a corner of the queen's garden, next to the terrace walk in the great garden, and under one corner of the palace, there is a fine grotto, consisting of the roots of trees, flints, and shells, disposed in a rough, grotesque manner, and in one corner of this grotto is an aviary; connected with it is also a china room.� The ironwork is painted blue, and the ornaments gilt. Every hedge, when it is planted, has fixed along its centre a prop, or line of trellis, of the height it is intended to grow, which regulates the gardener in clipping the hedge. In the park, are not only walks, groves, nurseries, fountains, canals, cascades, and a place for enclosing and feeding game, but �cornfields for his majesty's diversion in shooting, setting, &c.� In one of the basins of water in the park there is a jet which throws up a large inverted bell of water; round which are lesser inverted bells of water: round the basin are little stone canals of seven inches in breadth, with borders of two inches. These little canals, �besides the flourish they make on each side, do form the letters R. W. M. R.; and above those letters, the said small canals are so disposed as to form the representation of a crown.� Close by these royal letters are fourscore minute jets, concealed in the ground, which, by turning two cocks, �divert the spectators, by causing a small rain to fall unawares on those who shall advance within the compass of their reach.� �All the fountains and cascades are supplied from a natural reservoir at some distance; and hence at Loo, the water is always sweet; but where water is forced up by engines into great cisterns, as at Versailles, it soon corrupts and stinks.� The six vivers or fish-ponds in the park, lie on six different levels, the water flowing from the first through all the others. They are dug six feet deep, and the earth taken out forms a bank of three feet; so that the depth of water is nine feet. The banks are every where planted with willows. The first viver is 842 feet long; the second 612 feet; the third 434 feet; and the fourth, fifth, and sixth, 396 feet each. �These vivers are provided for the supplying of different sorts of fish. They were finished from a model of Monsieur Marot, a very ingenious mathematician, who is the same person that first designed all these gardens and fountains; but the orders relating to them were from time to time given by the Right Honourable the Earl of Portland; and his lordship's directions were punctually observed by Monsieur de Marais, his majesty's chief architect, a gentleman of great endowments and capacity.'