Trends of landscape gardening

Theme

The battle for the garden

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Many of the gardens at Denmark’s manors and castles were planted in the early 18th century. J.C. Krieger and N.H. Jardin were responsible for designing royal pleasure gardens in Fredensborg, Frederiksborg and Marienlyst. The gardens have retained their original baroque design with patches of forest, tree-lined avenues and sweeping views of the surrounding landscape.

Styles changed as the middle classes gained power and the role of the individual became more important. In Britain, the trend meant that gardens increasingly came to be influenced by their surrounding landscape, incorporating grassy knolls, copses, ponds, cattle and deer. Inspiration came from the romantic view of nature held by Rousseau and portrayed by artisans of the day. The view was a clear break from the fenced off, cultured landscape. In 1779, C.C.L. Hirschfeldt published the first volume of his “Theorie der Gartenkunst” (The Theory of Gardening), which is one long defence of the natural garden. Gardens should be modelled after British poet Alexander Pope’s belief that the most beautiful gardens were those that incorporated the natural landscape and vegetation, and where the gardener was different from an architect. In Denmark, natural gardens were planted at Næsseslottet, Liselund Palace and Frederiksberg Castle.

The public park
The arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century changed attitudes towards gardening yet again. The 18th-century aristocratic landlord was replaced by the new urban middle class, and literary ideals were forced aside by the desire to add value to homes. The new bourgeoisie also brought with it the introduction of public parks and sporting greens closed off from the crowded and polluted city. Denmark saw the development of parks close to its ramparts, and imperialism helped to spread the idea to most of the world. Despite its new role as a public park, Kongens Have in Copenhagen retained its Renaissance appearance.

New conflicting trends in gardening
The nationalist movements and idealistic attacks on industrialism meant decreasing interest in the international park concept. Modernist trends in art and architecture also extended to gardens. One of the modern architectural garden’s most important ideas was the unification of beauty and utilitarianism, reflection and work, pleasure and profit: all disparate terms that no longer excluded each other. Gardens became smaller as lifestyles changed and most homes scaled back on domestic and garden workers. The organised plan created for the first modern garden straightened out nature’s curves and made the irregular regular.

Return to nature
But soon the predictions of G.N. Brandt in “Der kommende Garten” (1930) (Tomorrow’s Gardens), were to be proven correct. Modern gardens became a refuge from the rational city by including natural features and giving more room for plants to grow. Brandt’s designs for Hellerup Strandpark and Marienbjerg Cemetery give glimpses of his naturalistic philosophy, while it comes into full bloom in Carl Thomas Sørensen’s design for Aarhus University Park and the greenspaces surrounding Copenhagen.

After World War II, the modern naturalist trend was again challenged. Sørensen’s round gardens in Nærum are a reflection of democracy’s influence on art – albeit in a controlled manner. But after the student protests of the 1960s, cultural upheaval and the economic downturn in the 1970s, the naturalism of the 1930s again returned to fashion.