The Garden Guide

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

Worlitz Garden Design2

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364(B). The orchard has the form of a rectangular oblong, and is about 85 paces long and 75 broad. The wall which surrounds it is terraced and planted with evergreens on the outside. The whole of this fruit-garden is surrounded by a wide ditch, with large gateways. There is also a walled kitchen-garden, and two flower-gardens, in the formation and arrangement of which, the imagination of the artist is admirably displayed, and which are enriched and studded with flowers of every kind in the greatest profusion. The principal objects of attraction in this garden are the temples of Venus and Flora, and the romantic region of the grottoes. The Temple of Flora is of the modern Doric order, and has in front four pillars, the intervals of which are closed at the base with iron trellises. The pillars support a gable, on the pediment of which is a bas-relief representing a sacrifice to Flora. The view from the portico of the temple is very fine, and strikingly resembles a scene in Lombardy. The large grotto is lighted by vaulted window-like apertures. Around the wall are stone seats, in the centre there is a stone table, and in a niche a sepulchral urn. It is approached through a subterraneous passage, the entrance to which is by some steps roughly hewn out of the rock. At the farther extremity of this passage, another of the same kind to the right is dimly seen by the glimmering light which alone penetrates through the obscurity. This leads to an open round space, shaded by planes and other trees, and surrounded by a black rocky wall, overtopped by a high dark evergreen thicket. On one side stand the ruins of an altar, composed, in a rude style, of quarry stones. Leaving this place, which is called the Hermit's Oratory, by a subterraneous passage on the left, we come to another, similar to the former, but larger, and enclosed by a circular wall of unhewn quarry stone. Here another allegory begins. The mystic quarter of the Temple of Venus. The stranger enters this region by the cell of initiation, which is formed of rough stone, rising on the left of the circular wall, and is shaded by various kinds of trees. Two paths lead from it. The one on the right indicates the frivolous, wearisome course of the man who is without knowledge and mental cultivation. He who proceeds by it ascends the rising ground by a rough, broken path, ceaselessly wandering to and fro, but still to no purpose, and always wanting the pleasure of agreeable variety. At last he reaches the height of the mound, where, looking sideways over some bushes, he obtains a glimpse of the dome of the Temple of Venus. The other path, to the left, is the mystic road to be pursued by the pupil of wisdom. This path soon turns into a cavern, which is, at first, quite dark, farther in, a glimmering light comes from above through the roof, and still farther, it is more brightly illumined by cavities high in the sides. In this migration we seem to hear the language of mysteries, to tread within Proserpine's threshold, and to stand upon the boundary which separates life from death. At length, issuing from the cavern, we enter a beautiful valley, whose rocky sides are adorned with a bright green verdure. The first object which here catches the eye is a round temple on a rock which directly faces the outlet. This is the mystic sanctum sanctorum of the celestial Venus, who, at the first origin of things, assisted by the mighty power of her son, communicated to all races of beings a fructifying impulse. Two grottoes are perceived, on entering a high vaulted opening in the rock on which the temple stands. That to the right, like the temple under which it is situated, is round, and is dedicated to Vulcan, the god of fire, and husband of Venus. It contains, besides the flaming altar of the god of fire, which stands in the middle, several movable, transparent pictures, on mythological subjects, serving for the walls and ceiling. These pictures represent emblematically the operation of the elements of fire and earth. The umbilical aperture in the vaulted ceiling is immediately under the hollow pedestal of the statue of Venus. This pedestal, which is provided with yellow coloured panes of glass, forms a kind of lantern, from which a soft light, as from the sun in an eclipse, falls into the grotto. The other grotto, which is consecrated to Neptune and ᆭolus, is quadrangular. Opposite to the entrance, near the roof, there is a large semicircular opening, taking in the whole breadth of the grotto, and reached by ascending some steps. On looking through this aperture, there appears nothing, as far as the eye can reach, but meadows, which extend from the forest of Worlitz to the embankment of the Elbe, upon which the pantheon rises to view in the distance. In spring and autumn, when the Elbe overflows its banks, these meadows are frequently inundated as high as the embankment; and the view presents only a large surface of water encircled by woodlands. The reflection of this immense sheet of water in the mirrors placed in the walls forms an excellent image of the aqueous element; and the statue of the god of the sea in the middle of the grotto seems rising out of the waves. The magic tones of an ᆭolian lyre, which stands in a circular cavity, add to the charm. Touched only by the winged and airy fingers of the god of the winds, it announces to all, in divine melodies, the operation of the atmospheric element. The Temple of Venus is a monopteron, that is, merely a circular colonnade without a cellar. It is of the Doric order, and is built entirely of sandstone. It stands upon an elevation which is ascended by a flight of steps. The pillars, which are fluted, are ten in number; they are two feet in diameter, and fourteen feet high. The entablature is two feet high; the dome seven feet high, and thirteen feet in diameter. Round the dome are circular gradations, like benches or steps, of unequal height, reaching nearly to the top. The building has a brownish-yellow colour, owing to an oily tinge which has been given to the stone of which it is built, and also to its being roofed with copper. The statue in the centre of the temple is a cast from the Medicean Venus. The Weidenheger Garden. This garden has a south-east aspect, and lies partly on the margin of the lake, behind the nymphï¾µum, and partly on the tongue of land formed by the south arm of the lake and the long canal. It is bounded on the north by Schoch's garden, on the east by the embankment of the Elbe, on the south by fields tenanted by the prince's subjects, and on the west by the lake. It is separated from the grounds of the tenants principally by a thick plantation, and, in many places, by a grass border only one foot and a half broad. There is a ferry-boat between this and the palace garden, a rope being extended from one bank to the other, by means of which any person may ferry himself across. That part of the garden which extends from Schoch's garden to the long canal, consists almost entirely of plantations, through which are winding paths, taking in distant prospects. Some of these paths lead to picturesque spots in the garden, others to the surrounding villages. The other part, situated on the tongue of land, contains both enclosed and open divisions; nevertheless, the general characteristic of this garden is privacy. An alley of poplars extends in a straight line from the lake to the embankment of the Elbe, at the end of which is seen the Spinarius. The long canal, on each side of which Lombardy poplars are planted, extends in a straight line from the gulf formed by the lake behind the nymphï¾µum, to the large piece of water near the pantheon. Over the mouth of the canal, in the lake, a pontoon bridge is laid; and over the other mouth, opening into the large piece of water, there is an iron arched bridge, which, having its balustrade gilded, and in the form of rays, is named the Bridge of the Sun. Near this is a large lawn, almost equal in size and similar in form to the tongue of land. It is enclosed all round by a thick plantation, except at one end, where it is open, and there a narrow stream enters from the lake. Amidst some clusters of trees, which constantly shed over this tranquil spot a kind of green twilight, this inlet forms a round basin, whose destination for a bath is obvious at first sight. The whole is surrounded by a road abounding in beautiful prospects. Behind a circle of rose bushes on the bank of the canal, there is a statue of a crouching Venus. To a poetic fancy it would seem that the goddess, scared from the bath by unexpected intruders, and stopped in her flight by the lake, had concealed herself behind the roses on its bank. This statue, which is above the natural size, is by Pfeifer. The original is in the Villa de' Medici. There is also at the farther end of the large nursery a statue of the Spinarius extracting the thorn from his foot, by Pfeifer. It is a fine copy of the bronze original in the Capitol. It is made rather colossal, in order that it may be the better seen from a distance. The new pleasure-ground. This recently laid out ground is bounded on the north by the Weiden-heger garden; on the east by the embankment of the Elbe; on the south by the poplar avenue leading to the water-mill ferry; and on the west by the bank of the Elbe. Strictly speaking, it may be described rather as a piece of embellished land than as a garden; for the greater part of the ground within these boundaries is a level field. The chief peculiarity which distinguishes the formation of this park, is the excellent use made of the boundaries by taste and art, and the beauty of the principal objects at the two opposite extremities, namely, the pantheon, with a large piece of water below it, and the volcano at the point of the lake. The Pantheon, which is destined for a museum, is of a round shape, and is erected on the embankment of the Elbe. It has a portico, with four pillars supporting a gable, and takes its name from its resembling in form the great Roman Pantheon. It is built of stone, and painted a dark red colour, except the portico, the balustrade on the cornice, and the pilasters on the second floor, which are all painted white. The roof, including the dome, is covered with copper. Three long wide steps lead up to the portico. The pillars, thirteen feet high, and two feet and a half in diameter, are of the Corinthian order, with Attic bases. The width between the two middle pillars is greater than between them and the remaining ones. The pediment is ornamented with sculpture, and the dome with paintings from the antique. Within is a circular room, occupying the middle of the building, lighted from the dome, and surrounded by an arcade. The arcade is lighted by windows. The floor of the middle room, as well as of the arcade, is composed of white gypsum, in which the attributes of Apollo and the Muses are represented in coloured gypsum. As yet the pantheon is empty; but statues and other works of art are expected for it from Rome. The views from the roof of the building are of the most rich and interesting kind. The Egyptian Cavern is below the pantheon. It consists also of a central room, surrounded by an arcade. The roof is arched, and the floor is paved with flag-stones. The walls are without niches or ornament of any kind, and merely whitewashed. The light, which enters by a small window in the arcade, is communicated to the central room through the side arches. This central room contains, at present, no other ornament than a Canopus of gypsum, painted to imitate green basalt, and modelled by Doel from that in the Villa Albani. On the other wall are bas-reliefs in gypsum, also painted like basalt, of the principal Egyptian deities. There are some few other objects of interest on the main land of this garden, which may be here briefly enumerated before proceeding to the islands. The iron bridge is twenty-four feet long and six feet wide. Its height is ten feet, exclusive of the balustrade, which is one foot high. The George canal takes its name from the brother of the reigning prince. The Grotto of Egeria is at the terminating point of the lake, near a small wood of pine trees. It lies in a valley, shaded by old trees. The grotto is formed in imitation of that near Rome; and the statue of the nymph, in a reclining attitude, is by Pfeifer. The large and beautiful piece of water already spoken of spreads out from the foot of the Pantheon; and it is beautiful not only in extent, but in gracefulness of form, and in the effect produced by six fine islands which are scattered over its surface. These islands differ from each other as much in shape and internal appearance as in size and beauty. Two are larger than the rest. The first of these, which is opposite the ferry, is remarkable for the changes which it exhibits from hill to valley, and for the inequality of its soil, as well as for the solemn appearance of the shadows cast all over it by aspens, birches, and weeping willows, intermixed with larches, firs, cedars, and various kinds of shrubs. The idea that we are in a resting-place for the dead naturally arises, and is speedily confirmed by the sight of a stone cippus, which rises on a small hill near the bank. On the side near the water, a male and female, sculptured in relief, are shaking hands in the attitude of parting. An inscription is extended over the heads of the figures, to the following effect: 'Mortal are we, and mortal all our wishes. Sorrows and joys are gone, and we pass away also. ' The second island lies near the red guard-house. It is larger than the former, and rounder, although it projects into the water a long point of land planted with tall alders, whose extended branches, hanging down to the surface of the water, conceal the entrance to a grotto. The Amelia Grotto derives its name from the consort of the prince, and is constructed of large rough stones, forming high, bold arches on three of the sides. The back of the grotto is adorned with a marble statue of Venus, under the natural size, in a niche. On each side of the niche are two black frames, containing what appears at first sight to be two landscape paintings; on examination, however, they are found to be composed merely of stalactites, extracted from a cavern near Weimar, which, in consequence of their various colours and peculiar situation, incrusted as they are with moss, grass, &c., at a certain distance produce a complete illusion. From a scat placed under the Venus, the council-house and the palace, though really far removed from each other, appear to be contiguous; because the distant town, which extends in a semicircle between them, is covered by the pillar of the left angle of the grotto, so that the two objects seem to be separated only by its slender breadth. Within the angular pillar on the right, a spiral staircase is constructed, which leads to the roof, where there is a sort of arbour formed of ironwork, in imitation of vine branches. Fronting this arbour are busts of Anacreon and Sappho on posts, in the style of the statues of Hermes. The rest of the hill is covered with a plantation, through which a path, edged by various kinds of flowering shrubs, winds down the declivity to the beach. The character of this island is cheerful retirement. Stone Island and Volcano. The former name has been obtained by this island from the rocky masses exhibited upon it, and the latter from the fire-vomiting mountain which is there represented. The leading idea which may be given of this island is, that the many extensive, and, in general, scattered objects of art and nature dispersed over Sicily and the coast of Campania, are here copied in miniature, and combined in one harmonised whole. Here we see represented, amidst the most luxuriant vegetation of southern climates, the ruins of an ancient gymnasium, adjoining a modern pavilion; there the sunken crater of an extinguished volcano, once used as a theatre, a considerable part of which yet remains overlooked by another complete conical crater, from which the boiling lava seems every moment ready to burst through the burnt-out abyss of the mountain; extensive subterraneous vaults wind in different directions, in imitation of those in the promontory of Misenum, which Marcus Agrippa converted into a naval arsenal; in the hollow side of the hill, a series of tasteful chambers are formed, and around the island are scattered basaltic columns, which resemble the Cyclopean fragments that surround the little harbour of La Triza, in Sicily. The first object which attracts attention, on visiting this island, is a brick wall by the side of a rock, upon which a flat-roofed pavilion is built. In the brick wall there are nine large, and as many small, niches, above which an espalier is formed by vines trained up to iron bars: aloes, in pots, stand here and there on the top of the wall, as well as on the roof of the pavilion. The prototype of this wall is to be found in the ruins of an ancient gymnasium at Taormina, in Sicily. From a terrace above the wall is a splendid view of the open country. Of the nine large niches in the wall, six are occupied by peach trees; the remaining three are open, and form doorways, one of which leads to a dark passage, which runs behind the theatre towards the orchestra. The theatre is, of course, intended to appear in ruins. The orchestra, including the space appropriated for the stage, of which the front boundary (the finitio proscenii) is supposed no longer to exist, forms a beautiful oval spot of greensward, here and there shaded by trees, and measuring in diameter twenty-eight feet by thirty-one. All the remaining part of the stage, as far as to two small staircases, and the under part of the outer surrounding wall, has the appearance of having been decayed by time. The amphitheatre, properly so called, that is, the graduated elevation of the spectators, consists of eight rows of seats. The landing-place, or lobby [the pr£cinctio), occurs after the first five rows of seats, so that the two upper rows seem to be rendered waste. All that remains of the upper part of the external wall is a central niche. Three straight flights of steps leading up to the seats, one in the middle and one at each end of the semicircle, characterise this as a Roman theatre. The whole is built of stone; and, wherever we may seat ourselves, we are sure to enjoy a delightful prospect. The grotto lies behind the theatre, and has the appearance of a double arcade. Three large arches open straight before us, and we are surprised by the views obtained through the two to the right. Opposite one of the latter, and on our left, there is, in a large deep niche, a gypsum cast of a Venus sitting and drying her feet, the original of which is at Florence. Water runs under the niche, from pipes, into a stone trough, upon which the oceanic birth of Venus is represented. The outermost arcade stands in the water; we pass through it by means of a gondola. The Cabinet of Night forms part of this grotto. The Prince de Ligne, speaking of this singular effort of human ingenuity, says, 'we ascend a little staircase; the gloom increases, and we are at last involved in complete darkness. On turning to the left, a sudden brightness strikes the eye; a magic ray beams forth. We proceed to the spot whence it issues; and, by an open door, enter a saloon, in the middle of which a beautiful statue, of dazzling whiteness, on a black pedestal, reflects the light streaming from a moon and stars set in the dark-vaulted roof of the cabinet. The effect is striking; but, when we recover from our first astonishment, we perceive that the stars are of yellow glass, sprinkled thickly over the roof; while the moon consists of one large pane, which closes an umbilical aperture in the centre. The cabinet is about twenty feet square, and the walls are covered with Etruscan entablatures, encased with black stones. Couches covered with black cloth are placed in recesses; and the statue, which is a cast from an antique vestal, holds an alabaster vase in her hand, in which at night is placed a wax candle. From the position of this taper, the only light then admitted into the cabinet is thrown strongly upon the figure; while the black pedestal on which it stands is no longer perceptible, and the vestal seems floating in air. ' The Cabinet of Day is another part of the grotto, and is intended to be the counterpart and companion picture of the former; but it is not completed: it is, therefore, unnecessary to notice it further at present. There is also within the same mountain a funereal vault, with urns for ashes; and numerous repositories and cavities, which serve for different purposes: some are used for the preservation of plants in winter. The Volcano. By some rough steps between rugged rocks, we reach a break in the side of the mountain, which serves as a landing-place, and from which there is a view to the right, over the ruins of the theatre. The funnel-formed and lava-covered crater of the volcano is seen above to the left. In the representation of eruptions, the hollow which surrounds the crater, and out of which it seems to rise, overflows with water, which is thrown up by a machine within the mountain, and which, like a magnificent cascade, rushes down, foaming and roaring, over the rocky ridge into the lake. A stone bridge, which is thrown over this hollow, leads to the great caldron, where the fireworks, projected through the mouth of the crater, are prepared, and in which, when the volcano is working, all kinds of inflammable materials are burned; when an immense smoke issues from the numerous apertures, and covers the top of the mountain with heavy black clouds. At the same time millions of sparks, rising from the gulf, form columns of fire, and streams of melted lava appear to flow down the sides of the mountain. The pavilion is an imitation of the villa built by Sir William Hamilton at Posilippo, near Naples. The Prince de Ligne describes this structure as most simple in its outward form, most magnificent within, and altogether in the Herculaneum style. It is thirty-eight feet long, sixteen broad, and twenty-two feet high. The kitchen of the pavilion is fitted up in the antique style. The walls are painted with xenia, or representations of chickens, eggs, fruit, and other articles for the table, which the Greeks used to give as visiting presents to their guests. The Jewish temple, and several fountains, also deserve notice, though not of sufficient importance for a lengthened detail.