Sep 23, 2009

Kasteel Weldam

Walking down the shady country lane, one has no idea of the history and beauty that is about to reveal itself. Welcome to Kasteel Weldam.Kasteel Weldam is situated in the east of the Netherlands, and was built in 1645 and was then later expanded in 1897, though the property was first mentioned in the 12th Century. The castle itself is surrounded by a moat and is the heart of the estate, which all sits on 11 acres of grounds. The garden itself was designed by Edouard Andre (1840-1911), a French architect and a trained horticulturalist. Andre also worked on public parks throughout Europe, and in 1860, he helped Alphand and Haussmann re-design Paris with its famed boulevards and parks.
The garden is an Old-Dutch garden with a French character. While Andre designed the garden, he left the construction of it to his pupil Hugo Poortman.

Seen throughout the garden were box and yew, which were grown and clipped into hedges and forms. These were commonly used in gardens created during the 16th Century. Eventually plants that were in fashion during the 19th Century made there way into the garden, which would include rhododendrons, roses, shrubs and annuals.

These clipped forms took on a playful role as they seemed to waddle back and forth across the garden, though I am sure this was not intentional.
A fleeting moment quickly captured as Herons are always so fast to fly away.
One of the highlights of the garden is the hedge maze. Thuja was used to create this labyrinth that makes anyone feel like a child again. My friend Becky and I raced to the finish, which was a central watch tower that gave a beautiful view over the garden. This hedge maze was replanted in 1999, using the original design, due to people "cheating" by squeezing through the walls to get to the finish.
Here is Becky showing the scale of the hedge, which was around 7' high.

After the maze it was easy to lose track of time and marvel at how symmetrical the parterre hedges were laid out in the adjoining garden room. The maintenance of the box embroidery hedge is time consuming but immaculately executed. The real gem of Weldam was about to shine though... To the right of the garden was a tall hedge, that beckoned us into its dark clipped entryway,

only to reveal the most breathtaking beech tunnel I have ever seen. The
cathedral-like ceiling was only enhanced by its length of 475'! The Fagus sylvatica was trained over an iron frame that was originally built in 1887. This masterpiece created an atmosphere of hushed tones where you could not help but stare in awe and amazement. The tunnel was left with open gaps on purpose to have the play in light and dark, which emphasizes the incredible length of the tunnel. The octagonal tower was added on to the castle in 1888-1889.
Across the country lane that leads to the estate is the walled kitchen garden. It holds a number of small glasshouses, an orangery, and cold frames. The fruit and vegetables that are grown here are used by the family that live in the castle.
Orangeries made their debut at fashionable residences starting in the 17th Century. They were used in a similar way that greenhouses or conservatories are used today. Though the main purpose was to store citrus trees, and other exotic imports, they were primarily seen as a symbol of prestige and wealth on top of being an important architectural element.
A look inside one of the glasshouses revealed trained grapes growing inside to take advantage from the trapped heat of the sun. The view inside the orangery gave the romantic impression of the passage of memories and time ....

1 comment:

  1. The beech tunnel is just spectacular. One would definitely be at lost for words upon entering this colossal beauty. One of the best things in life is to go and settle down in a relaxing park on a breezy day. Parks and recreation centers are clearly the easiest way to spend a day of relaxation, without having to pay a lot of money. The castle is interesting as well.