The Royal Gardens of Denmark

Posted on January 20th, 2010 by Charles Boot

Jens Henderliowitz, The Royal Gardens of Denmark (Forlaget Guld og Gronne Skive, 2005), 350 pp., ISBN 8799012413

Jens Hendioliowitz is a leading Danish landscape architect who worked on royal gardens for almost twenty years. In this book, his concise historical accounts of eleven of the gardens, including those with which he has been professionally involved, are each followed by many excellent coloured illustrations: photographs, aerial photographs, historical plans and historical illustrations (about four hundred and fifty in all). He describes the original form of each garden and how it changed with the arrival of new fashions, followed in some cases by sensitive restoration and recreation. Changes have also occurred as a result of public access, since all but one of the gardens are open to the public.

The royal family and the state have both contributed to the conservation of the gardens. When Denmark was given its first democratic constitution in 1849, the state took over responsibility for maintaining many of the royal palaces and gardens. Consequently, there has been much greater public access leading to modifications to accommodate the many visitors, who amount to almost three million a year in the King’s Garden at Rosenborg Palace.

There is a long gardening tradition among members of the Danish royal family. Christian IV (b.1577, r.1588–1648) was mainly responsible for creating the gardens at Rosenborg in a Renaissance style, designed by Hans Konig and Martin de la Cuder, with an extensive area for fruit, vegetables and herbs. Under Christian’s son, Frederik III (b.1609, crowned 1648, d.1670), impressive avenues in Baroque fashion were added. After a long period of decline, steps were taken in the late twentieth century to preserve what remains of the early gardens and at the same time to provide attractive facilities for visitors.

Frederik IV (b. 1671, r.1906–12) employed Johan Cornelius Kreiger to design outstanding Baroque gardens at Fredriksborg Castle, which have recently been splendidly recreated. For Frederik V (b. 1723, r.1746–66) at Fredensborg, Nicolas-Henri Jardin laid out a garden inspired by Versailles with sculpture by Johannes Wiedewelt. Under Frederik VI (b.1768, r.1808– 39) at Frederiksberg, the old Baroque garden was transformed into an exceptional romantic garden inspired by C. C. L. Hirschfeld’s Theorie der Gartenkunst (1779–85). At Charlottenlund, Frederik VIII (b.1843, r.1906–12) and Queen Louise were responsible for creating a ‘pleasure forest’ and a romantic landscape garden.

More recently, the late Queen Ingrid (1910– 2000), a most enthusiastic and knowledgeable gardener, spent sixty-five years creating a great romantic garden at Grasten Palace, Jutland. Queen Margethe II continues the family tradition and takes a particular interest in Fredensborg Palace Gardens, Marseliborg Palace Gardens and the garden at Christian VIII’s Palace, Amalienborg, the Queen’s and Prince Henrik’s official residence.

This impressive and lavishly produced book has been made possible by the support of eleven charitable foundations, headed by Queen Margrethe’s and Prince Henrik’s fund. Queen Margrethe has also written the Foreword. It is sure to bring more visitors to the gardens and has already inspired a plan for a Garden History Society tour in 2007.

Peter Hayden

33:2 (Winter 2005)

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