- Photographer: Åke E:son Lindman
Drottningholm Palace Garden
The pleasure garden stretches towards the palace. Avenues of double lime trees run along its sides. In the past the garden was separated by walls and fences. Gates with gilded decor lead into the dreamlike world where symmetry and order reigned.
The utility garden and the conservatory
As early as during the first palace construction time at Drottningholm, approximately 1580-1660, there was a utility garden that supplied the current palace with vegetables and fruit, apart from the cultivation of rare plants that were cultivated as adornment. It was located roughly where the parking lot east of the theatre is located today. The utility garden provided for palaces and royal courts throughout the centuries. These days, only a pear tree and field of Butterbur remain from the original cultures.
The current palace was erected by Nicodemus Tessin senior during the later half of the 17th century. A greenhouse, conservatory, was built next to the new pleasure garden. Exotic and fragile bedding-plants were cultivated here, among other things different types of citrus trees. During the 1790’s, a new conservatory was built just north of the English Park, and it still remains there, albeit in a different condition.
Vries sculptures in the Baroque Garden
The oldest of the gardens we can find at Drottningholm today was built in the late 17th century on the initiative of Queen Hedvig Eleonora, under the management of palace architects Nicodemus Tessin senior and Nicodemus Tessin junior. This section is called the Baroque Garden and it is located in direct connection to the palace, surrounded by four rows of lime tree avenues. The architects drew inspiration from recently built palace gardens in France, where the ideal was strictness, discipline and symmetry. All of the bronze sculptures in the park are created by the artist Adrian de Vries and they were brought to Sweden as spoils of war from Prague in 1648 and Fredriksborg in Denmark in 1659.
Apart from the avenues of lime tree, the Baroque Garden includes the Embroidery Parterre closest to the palace and after this lies the Water Parterre. Today, the Baroque Garden is Sweden’s most distinguished garden of its kind. Together with all of the buildings at Drottningholm, the palace park is since 1991 on the UN’s Unesco world heritage list of the world’s cultural and natural heritage that is in need of protection. The palace and its surroundings form a unique unit of a well preserved Swedish palace environment from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Baroque Garden deteriorated during the 19th century but was restored in the 1950’s-60’s on the initiative of Gustav VI Adolf.
The garden surrounding the Chinese Pavilion
The garden surrounding the Chinese Pavilion was built in the middle of the 18th century. At this time one had started to abandon the strict garden ideal in favour of a more natural park. Queen Lovisa Ulrika absorbed the new ideas and allowed the Chinese Pavilion architect Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz to plant avenues of chestnut trees with open vistas around the building.
The bosquets east of the palace were planted so that they could function as arbours. Inside the bosquets were large cages that housed, among other things, exotic birds. One of these still remain but its condition has changed vastly.
The English Park
When Gustav III took over Drottningholm after his mother, Queen dowager Lovisa Ulrika in 1777, he wanted to incorporate the new park ideal from England, the natural landscape park, in the palace park.
Fredrik Magnus Piper, who had studied the English garden ideal on location, was in 1780 given the task of creating such a facility north of the Baroque Garden. It consists of two ponds with channels, islands and bridges, widespread lawns and avenues of trees and groves. Meandering walkways surround the park and vistas run through it out into the landscape. Out of all of the ambient buildings that were placed in the English Park, only a few came to be completed, like for example Götiska tornet (the Gothic Tower) with its chivalric romance style. From his Italian journey in 1784, Gustav III brought with him several marble sculptures, copies of classic originals, which were placed in the park.
Park maintenance then and now
The daily maintenance of the Drottningholm palace park has always been an arduous task. During certain times a great deal of manpower has been required, and the work could partly be managed by calling in military regiments and partly by hiring datallers and farmers and crofters who lived in the area. Up until contemporary times most of the work was done by hand.
The gardens in the Baroque Garden were cut with a scythe or hooks, the hedges were trimmed with scissors or hedge sabres. Gravel areas were shovelled or raked by hand. The shaped trees and bushes were cut with small scissors or cut with knives. Urns and large pots were carried in and out from the Conservatory several times a year.
When the English Park was added the total grass surfaces increased significantly. However, these grass surfaces were not cut or sheared as often as those in the Baroque Garden. During the days of Gustav III, sheep grazed in some areas of the park. The two shepherds, a man and a woman, watched over the herd in specially sewn costumes. The work with sheep remained until the 1950’s.
Today machines have taken over the work. With the help of lawn mowers, more grass areas and larger areas can be cut short. The hedge clippers are motorised and tractors have replaced the horses.
Place on map
178 93 Drottningholm
- The Utility Garden from the early 17th century, the Baroque Garden from the late 17th century, the garden surrounding the Chinese Pavilion from the middle of the 18th century, the English Park from the 1780’s.
- Baroque Garden Nicodemus Tessin senior and Nicodemus Tessin junior, the garden surrounding the Chinese Pavilion Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz, the English Park Fredrik Magnus Piper.