SWEDISH BAROQUE GARDEN DESIGN
Queen Christina first introduced the ideas of France into her country in the middle of the seventeenth century. In the first bright days of her actual reign she hoped to gather round her a splendid court of the Muses, and she summoned to her side André Mollet, the son of that Mollet whom Henry IV. had employed in France. He had left England some time before because of the Civil War and he now came to Sweden. In 1651 Mollet published at Stockholm his book called Le Jardin de Plaisir, which he dedicated to the queen, and which influenced the theory of gardening. Unfortunately he does not say for which garden he designed his parterres en broderie, compartiments de gazon, bosquets, but the style seems to indicate one of the best Swedish seats, Jakobsdal, which after the year 1684 was known as Ulrichsdal, after Prince Ulrich. The castle came into being between 1642 and 1644 (Fig. 517).
A set of fine engravings by Perelle show the state of the garden, as it was laid out about the middle of the century by Magnus Gabriel de la Gardie. It was improved by Queen Hedwig Eleonora, widow of Charles X,, who possessed the place after 1669.
The castles of Sweden owed their chief charm and beauty to their great stretches of water. The house as a rule either has the sea close to it, or has one of the great lakes, as here, on two sides. The main approach is by water, the others are by the garden. Jakobsdal stands on a terrace, which is washed on three sides by the waters of the gulf. A wonderful balustraded approach leads from the landing-place to the fine Renaissance building, which on the garden side has two wide wings standing about a paved court, A carriage road with balustrades serves as the approach on one side to this terrace. There is an ascent by very wide steps to the large parterre. There are sixteen compartments laid cut in the style of Mollet, connected by dwarf trees with statues in the corners and three fountains, In the main axis and in front of the castle is a domed building, in a grove which contains a grotto. Farther along on both sides of the middle walk there are two vivariums, the one on the left ornamented with a dragon fountain, at the foot of a wild grotto hill: here Andromeda is fixed to the rock, and Perseus appears leaping down from the heights. To the right of the castle the park climbs up the hill, and broad steps lead to the summer-house called Marienberg, after Magnus Gabriel’s wife. Lying along at the foot of the hill is the orange- garden. On the other side a canal widens out into two basins and joins the sea, This garden is one which ranks Mollet, if we may assume that the design is really his, among the outstanding artists of his time, just as his father was. The style of the French Renaissance, visible everywhere, has adapted itself most happily to the magnificent situation of this castle.
In Dahiberg’s Views of the Swedish Castles of the Year 1735 we find several smaller gardens clearly showing the Renaissance character, and of these Jakobsdal is the finest. The paths are covered with trellis arbour-work running crosswise, as in the pretty little garden at Eckholm, or the parterre at Mirby engraved by Perelle. But most of them show the influence of Le Nôtre, which was quite irresistible here after the end of the seventeenth century. Hedwig Eleonora in particular was devoted to the laying-out of gardens and their beautification. Her favourite place was the Castle of Drottningholm (Fig. 518).
FIG, 518. DROTTNINGHOLM, SWEDEN—GROUND-PLAN
She found a mediaeval castle on one of the islands in Lake Mälaren, and she began to make alterations in 1661 . This castle also stood on a raised terrace, and its approach was by water from an oval-shaped harbour. The garden lay towards the south, and showed the influence of Versailles more than any other in Sweden; its fine parterre was laid out in patterns of box, with a border of clipped trees and flowers. In the centre, steps in the open mount up by a wide middle walk to a basin with a Hercules fountain. After this comes the water-parterre, some steps lower, with eight round or oval basins and fountains. At the end of it there is one of those water-roads that French gardens adopted from Italy. This part ends on the left with an oval basin, with a cascade blocking the view on the other side. Beyond the water-parterre are elaborate boskets. On the west of the large parterre is an immense pond with an island on it, and adjoining it a park for deer with straight walks cutting through it. The fine scheme is completed with a menagerie site made in concentric circles on the south-east.
In the second half of the eighteenth century this garden was destined to flourish once again, loved and tended by another queen, Frederick the Great’s sister, Louisa Ulrica. She, like her brother and her sister at Bayreuth, found the greatest joy of her life in the study of literature and art, and she also had inherited from her mother a delight in collecting things, and in the splendour of her surroundings. “All the queen’s rooms are most beautiful,” says a traveller of that day. She, like Hedwig Eleonora, chose Drottningholm for her favourite dwelling-place and furnished the inside of the castle with collections of porcelain, Chinese and Japanese carpets, pieces of furniture, and pictures. The garden, and still more the park, were now equipped with all kinds of fashionable nooks and corners in accordance with the feeling of the time. In the park, a gun-shot distance from the garden, Louisa Ulrica set up an entire little colony, which she called China. Round a plot of ground there were pretty little houses in the Chinese style, the chief one adorned with tables of lacquer and Chinese figures. There was a Chinese pagoda with a bell-tower, also Chinese vases in porcelain, and gilt statues. The whole place was enclosed with a dense border of firs, that made it dark. Hirschfeld speaks of another place with little buildings which shows the queen’s affection for China: “ It lies at the end of the French garden and is called Canton.”
The largest of the Swedish castles is Carlsberg (Fig. 519), but the garden has not the individual character of Drottningholm, though the approach is similarly by way of the lake. Behind the house is a semicircular piece with a narrow border of flowers, and behind that are dense thickets, with immediately at the back, parterres round a large pond in a wide open space. As this garden lies towards the north, the tall trees round the house are to keep off the cold winds. Near the house itself this was made up for by handsome side parterres, which keep a decidedly Renaissance aspect, being treated partly as hanging gardens. Round about them there is a great park, penetrated by avenues that run out in the form of a star, and this park has kept its French character to a great extent even to the present day.
It follows from the situation of castles like these, that the real importance which the canal acquired for French’ gardens is here superseded, for the outlook over the lake or the sea fulfils the object of the canal, though in quite another fashion.