English Gardens in Germany

Bergpark Wilhemshöhe Kassel, early nineteenth century. Photo: Wikipedia

English landscape gardens are a great contribution to architectural history. Although gardens were an invention by ancient Babylonians, to be continued by Roman patricians and reaching perfection in the Caliphate of Cordoba in the tenth and eleven centuries, the English style was surpassed anything. The French copied the ‘jardin anglais’, the Germans the ‘Englischer Garten’. The gentlemen had been on the Grand Tour and knew their classics.

The Writer Edmund Burke (1729-1797) wrote the treatise A philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful in 1756. The natural, unplanned and without human intervention created garden was based on this book, which promoted the taste for the emotion, the picturesque, the sublime, the Gothic image (in casu ruins), in order to recreate an idyllic pastoral landscape. Picturesque asymmetry rather than orderly geometric style prevailed.

The English garden did more than just evoke the nobility of the classical past. It catered as well to the Romantic sensibility developing at the time. One of the best preserved examples is the ‘Englischer Garten’ in Germany, Bergpark Wilhemshöhe in Kassel. It shows that Europe was united by culture rather than nationalism, ideologies, racism and ethnical difference as it is known from the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries. Source: BBC History Magazine, Volume 11, no 8, August 2010.