Friday, 6 June 2014
Fürst-Pückler-Park Bad Muskau - A Capability Brown Legacy
The 300th birthday of genius landscape designer Lancelot 'Capability' Brown is coming up in 2016 and already preparations are under-way to celebrate his legacy. That he revolutionised the idea of how stately homes and palaces are set in their grounds is undeniable; just visit any ducal residence or lordly estate in England and Wales and observe his direct hand or obvious influence. The irony is that his concept was to set off the richly architectural buildings of the landed gentry in surroundings that appeared harmonious and natural, when in fact the positioning of every tree and the meander of the paths and rivers was scrupulously planned and artificial.
His vision of the ideal English garden was taken up not just amongst the rich and mighty of his homeland, but spread across mainland Europe and to the American colonies, and eventually to Australia and New Zealand on the other side of the world. In Germany one of his most enthusiastic advocates was the colourful individualist Hermann Ludwig Heinrich, Fürst von Pückler-Muskau (b.1785 d.1871)
Prince Hermann was a Prussian nobleman who embraced the European Enlightenment for innovation whilst also being a proto-type Romantik who travelled extensively in exotic far-flung regions of the world, whilst woo-ing any female who came across his path. His experiments in landscape gardening in the English fashion can be appreciated at Branitzer Park, Cottbus, as well as a collaborations with that other giant of landscape gardening Peter Joseph Lenné at Babelsberg park.
But today we visited his first home at Bad Muskau, which he inherited along with a Standesherrschaft (barony) from his father in 1811. He sold the estate in 1845 and moved to Cottbus, but in that time he created a marvellous English landscape park beside the river Oder, which is today on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
We had previously visited the park in August 2013, but this time we wanted to explore it a bit more. Here are some of my photos which I hope will give you a feeling for the park and Schloss:
By the way, the park is half and half in Germany and Poland. Like every other border crossing, a 'shanty town' of traders greets you as you cross over into Poland. There you can get everything from cheap cigarettes, booze, petrol to haircuts and fireworks. It is always a strange, but exciting, feeling for me to cross a bridge and know instantly that you are in a different country. And up until a couple of decades or so ago, it would have been almost impossible to make that crossing and leave East Germany, which is a sobering thought.