The Landscape Guide


 Esterhazy Garden 

Hungary had no special development to boast of as distinct from Austria. Till late in the seventeenth century the Renaissance flower-garden held its own with interests purely botanical, and these were also furthered by learned travellers. In 1631 a physician of Upper Hungary was granted a title of nobility with the affix ab hortis, as a recognition of his services in this field. It is also said of Protestant theological students that, on their return from Dutch universities, they often brought some cutting or rare bulb in their modest knapsacks, and in their heads the knowledge of all sorts of garden constructions that they made use of at home. When in 1664 the first garden book in the Hungarian language, The Garden of Pressburg, appeared, its author, George von Lippay, described exhaustively the garden belonging to his brother, the Prince and Archbishop of Gran. He owned the most famous Hungarian garden of the time, and took the utmost pride in the number of flowers which were raised there, and which made a fine many-coloured picture on their beds with the marvellous borders. But at the beginning of the eighteenth century French influence made its way without restraint into the gardens of Hungary. They vied with those of Austria, and the same nobles owned properties in both countries.

The Austro-Hungarian nobility at the time were most opulent, and felt that their first duty was to art. This was the time when Prince Esterhazy built a castle in the style of Versailles at his family seat in Hungary, and there erected a theatre and opera-house, where his Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn performed his works before a select audience that numbered four hundred persons. The theatre opened on the beautiful garden, where the fêtes were held. The chief garden was laid out entirely in the Austrian taste, with giardini secreti at the side of the castle, and a great lawn with innumerable baskets of flowers on it, with high espaliers enclosed by boskets. Under these princes, who liked to be in the height of the fashion, it was only in the pleasure-park that the new style crept in, with its "winding walks of the English sort" ; for Austria had long been contending against its onslaughts. Although Vienna and the country round about took time to arrive at the undisturbed reign of peace that is demanded for garden art on traditional lines, still it had arrived at a style of its own, due to a position rather different from the rest of Germany, and one which had apparently a surer footing than any of the other local developments in the eighteenth century.