The Garden Guide

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

Russian Public Gardens and Parks

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iv.. Public Gardens in Russia 466. Around St. Petersburg and Moscow are several public gardens, and various private ones, which their owners, with great liberality, convert into places of public entertainment, to which all people of decent appearance are at liberty to come. The country seats of the two brothers Narischkin deserve our particular notice, as being frequented on Sun days by great numbers of the higher classes. A friendly invitation, in four different languages, inscribed over the entrance to the grounds, authorises every one, of decent appearance, and behaviour, to amuse himself there in whatever way he pleases, without fear of molestation. In several pavilions are musicians, for the benefit of those who choose to dance; in others are chairs and sofas, ready for the reception of any who wish to recreate themselves by sedate conversation after roaming about with the great throng: some parties take to the swings, the bowling-green, and other diversions: on the canals and lakes are gondolas, some constructed for rowing, others for sailing; and, if this be not enough, refreshments are spread on tables, in particular alcoves, and are handed about by persons in livery. This noble hospitality is by no means unenjoyed; the concourse of persons of all descriptions, from the star and riband to the plain well-dressed burgher, forms such a party-coloured collection, and sometimes groups are so humourously contrasted, that for this reason alone it is well worth the pains of partaking once in the amusement. (Storch's St. Petersburgh, p. 441.) The summer gardens of St. Petersburgh. The walks are extensive, and said to be well-shaded and beautiful. 'What, however, excited my attention most,' says Dr. Granville, 'at a season when all nature's attractions were laid under three foot of snow, was the railing in front of the gardens, acknowledged to be the most magnificent in Europe. It is formed by thirty-six massive Doric pillars of solid granite, surmounted alternately by an urn and a vase, measuring altogether from the ground, upwards of seventy feet. These are connected by an airy and tasteful railing, formed with spears of wrought iron, tipped with the richest gilding. Three entrances interrupt the line with gates, which are closed at night, likewise made of wrought iron, beautifully decorated and worked with foliage and scrolls, covered with gold. The extent of the railing, which is raised on a dwarf stylobate of granite, is about 700 feet.' (Travels in Russia.)