5 May 2013

The Great Garden at Herrenhausen

The gardens at Herrenhausen (Heron House) in Hannover are stunning in scale and execution. I took over 200 photographs there and had a terrible job cutting them down to just 80 for my Facebook album and an even tougher job cutting that down for this blog.

Even then I've cheated a little and am doing separate blog posts for the Great Garden and the Berggarten which are separated by the main road.

The Great Garden certainly lives up to its name. It's 50 acres of formal gardens that took me most of the day to explore, and I know that I did not visit all of it.

The first view on entering the Great Garden immediately suggests something about the scale and formality of the gardens. Two long avenues of carefully managed trees lead towards a little temple in one of the corners of the garden. To the left, just beyond the line of lesser trees, is a moat that surrounds the garden.

The far end of the garden is laid out in a geometric pattern of paths defined by tall hedges that hide wild gardens. Where these paths meet there are fountains; there are two more like these two, making four altogether. The symmetry is a little confusing and I was reminded of the old Avengers episode (1966), The House that Jack Built, where every door that Emma Peel took led her back to the same place (an idea replayed in a recent Dr Who).

There are gardens within the garden and some of them are hard to find. This is one of four very different gardens clustered together. Each only has one way in and is surrounded by thick hedges so only the gentle trickling of water from the fountain gives the game away.

Emerging from the hedges of the far end of the garden reveals the Royal Castle proudly peering over the flower gardens and the large ponds.

Turning to the right shows how wide and how long the ponds are. There are more gardens beyond the far hedges, and behind us too. The line of trees on the right defines the start of the geometric hedges and their hidden mysteries.

The flower garden next to the Castle is a triumph of design and colour. The beds along the edge are all planted the same way and in the middle there are low hedges laid out in curved patterns with either orange plants, white stones or green grass between them.

In the centre of the floral garden is a large fountain which is a noisy as it is pretty. I walked all the way around it a couple of time looking through it to see the the patterns it made against the garden behind it. Impressive those this, it is not the king of the fountains here.

Venturing back in to the complex of hedges and paths at the far end of the garden took me to the main fountain. This sits in the centre of an "X" with the four fountains mentioned earlier forming the four points.

There are raised viewing platforms on one side of the floral garden (next to a maze) and at one end next to the Castle. From here the overall design of the floral garden is more obvious as is the detailed design of the low hedges. You may also notice one or two statues. These are grand enough but the gold ones are off to the left in another hidden garden. There is a little theatre in there too.

The last garden to make this selection is at the side of the castle. Here the planting is in long thin strips with low hedges behind. From above they look like a series of window boxes well spread out across the courtyard but sat in the tight place and looking at them from a low level the gaps between the rows disappear and all you can see are the flowers.

This is just a sampler for what the gardens has to offer. I've mentioned other things like the maze and gold statues and I could also mention the lime trees laid out in grids, the fountain with playful cherubs, the colourful grotto by the ubiquitous Niki de Saint Phalle, and more.

The only way to truly appreciate the Great Garden is to go there and spend a long time walking through it.

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