Author Topic: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...  (Read 10167 times)

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Offline Louise

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Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« on: April 28, 2004, 09:46:38 AM »
I'm an avid gardener, so I would like to know who was responsible for maintaining the lawns, and gardens. How many people would have been involved in the planting, pruning and upkeep of the vast landscape.

What is being done down to get it back to its original beauty if anything?

Louise
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Offline Sarai

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2004, 10:39:29 AM »
Good question, asking about the grounds surrounding the palace. I would also like to know what kinds of trees and flowers grew there in the family's time, just out of curiosity.

One more thing that I thought of - I imagine that the vegetable garden area cultivated by the family during their captivity is now overgrown with grass again, but is it possible that the dirt there was left bare for planting other things in that same spot?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Sarai_Porretta »

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2004, 10:51:45 AM »
After the revolution the gardens were not maintained properly and things rapidly became overgrown.  Parts of the gardens were purposefully vandalized and some revolutionary 'heroes' were buried right in the middle of the park.  After the palace was established as a museum they tried to get things back under control, but they weren't able to replant some of the things that had been lost.  So, from that point until World War II the Alexander Palace park was kept in fairly good order.  Kuchumov told me how the park and the field of grass and wildflowers extended from the palace all the way to the Feodorovsky Sobor and how beautiful it was.  He said it was one of the glories of Russia - like Versailles - like a little paradise with the river and the gorgeous Slavic style white buildings, gilded dome, etc...

After the war the park was a mess, dead trees, bombs, mines, toxic chemicals, human remains, fragments of things from the palaces strewn about. Although the Catherine Palace park was restored, little beyond cleaning up the Alexander Park and installing underground heating and water systems was done.

I really believe one day we will see it all be restored - with swans on the kitchen pond, Alix's balcony back with flowers planted beneath it and the green field of cut grass stretching to the Cathedral and the Gorodok....

Bob
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by BobAtchison »

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2004, 11:03:20 AM »
I have gone to the place where the vegetable garden was both in summer and winter.  When I have seen it this area of the park was terribly overgrown and dangerous to try and walk through.  I thought the mounds they piled up were still to be seen in places but because the park was torn up so much in the war it's possible that the was cause of the mounds and pits there.

Antonio has been there more recently and I hope he will share what he saw with us.

Maybe there are others that have looked there, too.

Bob
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by BobAtchison »

Offline Antonio_P.Caballer

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2004, 11:32:42 AM »
Hello Bob!
I´ve tried many times to look for the exact place and think i found it. I studied the parts of the palace facade that could be seen in the old photographs of the kitchen garden. The area is now wooded and there´s no trace altogether of the big marble vases that used to be nearby. As far as i could see there was no trace of the kitchen garden...

Offline Louise

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2004, 11:58:10 AM »
It would have been great to see the parks and gardens in all their glory. It's a shame that it was laid to waste after the revolution and the WWII. I'm glad some effort is being put into the restoration. ((Hmm, a summer job there sounds fantastic)

Are there any details, plans or drafts of how the gardens were laid out and what was planted?

Would the formal gardens have been maintained by the same people that maintained the private gardens?

Louise
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Offline nerdycool

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2004, 04:16:54 PM »
Quote
It would have been great to see the parks and gardens in all their glory. It's a shame that it was laid to waste after the revolution and the WWII. I'm glad some effort is being put into the restoration. ((Hmm, a summer job there sounds fantastic)


I never really thought about it until you said something, but now I realize that yes, it would be a great summer job. Heck, I'd give my right arm just to volunteer! But, that wouldn't pay the bills, so I'll just hafta stay in the US for now.... :( )

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2004, 08:23:29 AM »
The trees were planted to the side of the Feodorovsky Sobor, I believe all but one survived the war.  About ten years ago a bust of Nicholas II was erected there.  We donated around $3,000 to the bust, but they couldn't but our names on it anywhere because the bust was in the open and they thought Russians might get mad that foreigners had been involved.  It was okay because we knew what we had done.  I was there for the unveiling and took pictures - Kuchumov and Bishop Vassili (Rodzianko) were there....

Offline Forum Admin

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2004, 08:45:50 AM »
Here is that bust of Nicholas. The photo is thanks to Antonio, from his recent visit

Offline Louise

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2004, 10:14:57 AM »
Thanks for the pic. I have been searching and found out what climate zone the palace is in and I have been eagle eyeing pictures, so I have been getting an idea of what was planted and what could be planted.

It would be neat to see original designs of how the formal gardens were laid out and what was planted in them. Also what trees, shrubs, bulbs, etc.

Louise
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Janet Whitcomb

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2004, 05:20:20 PM »
Restorations can happen, if there's enough time, money, interest, and energy.  

On a much smaller scale, a number of volunteers (myself among them), under the auspices of county rangers, have been gradually restoring the grounds of Arden, the former estate of Madame Helena Modjeska, located in the Southern California foothills.  Modjeska was one of the world's great actresses in the 1870s-1890s, second only to the more flamboyant Sarah Bernhardt. She came to the United States in part to escape the censorship being imposed in her native Poland, coincidentally by the governing Tsarist regime.  :-/

Although many trees have taken over the estate since Modjeska was in residence, we are working toward restoring her rose gardens--using the same rose varieties from 100+ years ago!--as well as restoring the grounds in various other ways. I admit that while working outside amongst the California oaks, I have thought often of the Romanovs and their gardening activities that spring and summer of 1917.

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2004, 05:48:40 PM »
I saw a lovely programme on that estate a few years ago, on a PBS show: California Gold.  Although I lived in LA for 10 years, I had never heard of the estate or the actress herself.  They did concentrate on the house itself though I do recall some mention of restoring some of the gardens.
It certainly would be a much smaller project than the AP gardens!
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

Offline BobAtchison

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2004, 06:13:50 PM »
One thing that interests me is the fact that the trees were much shorter in the 18th century and you could still look out from the top of the collonade and see the city.

I have a big catalog of seeds from an English company that listed the Dowager Empress as it's patron.  I don't know if these seeds we used in the gardens of the palace, but it shows the varieties that were common at the time.

I know some of the roses that grew at Pavlovsk, but I don't know what varieties were gropwn in the Dowager Empresses rose gareden at the AP.  This garden was on the opposite side towards the children's island.

There was a flower garden in front of the Empress's balcony and I think Nicholas I also planted here.  He like to plant his own flowers at the AP.

The front of the palace was planted with flowers and bushes.  The forsythia and lilac there quickly grew way out of control after 1917 when they were untended.  In appears the Empress allowed these to grow larger even before the revolution to shield the windows on this side of the palace, since some people thought the garden on this side looked overgrown.  Also, the fragrance would blow into the palace on days when the windows were open.

In some parts of the park the grass was only cut a few times a year.  I saw how this was done at the Cottage one year.  They let it grow like a meadow with flowers and then cut it flat like a carpet in July. It was amazing to see it one day wild and beautiful and then the next day it was clipped like a formal garden.

Alexandra comments on the workmen cutting the grass at the AP and how the cutting was 'late' that year.

Bob

Offline Louise

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2004, 04:28:51 PM »
Glad to hear that the garden was restored at Palmse. I would volunteer my garden gloved hands, all my garden tools and my creaking knees, just to plant a few plants/flowers and have some time to garden at AP.

One day!

Louise
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christine martin

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Re: Alexander Palace Landscaping and Gardening...
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2004, 05:28:59 AM »
Dear Bob
We spoke by telephone many years ago.   I have only just found your 'discussion forum'.   Your energy and optimism is an example to us all.   Without your determination and singlemindedness, the Alexander Palace would be in an even more perilous state.
I visit Tsarskoe Selo regularly.   Sadly, shortly after my last visit Alexander Kedrinsky died.   When I spoke with him, he was very concerned about the condition of the roof  over the parade halls.
Re the oaks at the Feodorovsky Sobor - four survived, two of which can be seen in the background of the photograph of the bust of Nicholas II which was taken recently by Antonio.    I was present when Bishop Rodzianko planted an oak there in 1999.
Christine