Historic Gardens and the present context of COVID-19: Time for reflection and action

Historic Gardens and the present context of COVID-19: Time for reflection and action

More than ever

Villa Adriana e Villa d’Este

These days we can not go and visit our historic gardens, but they are still there, waiting for us. We have given them a break, so that when we finally can enjoy them again, they will shine more than ever.

The trees, plants and animals in our gardens -and cities- have more space now and it´s a real pleasure to observe how they enjoy that freedom. In that sense, I want to share with you two quotes, from Mr. Przybylak and Mr. Valentini, respectively:

While having right now an amazing view of nature that takes a deep breath while we are actually unable to do it, is a perfect time to be honest to ourselves that nothing will be the same again. Nature brought the humankind into the corner. The sparrows are coming back the English gardens. The dolphins and fishes came back to the canals of Venice. Birds and mammals could reproduce in the closed gardens while being undisturbed by the people. Everything is so as it supposed to be always but couldn’t happen in recent years because of the humankind’s life dynamics

Mr. Lukasz Przybylak,
Manager of the Willanow Palace Gardens in Warsaw, member of the Scientific Committee and Vice-president of the European Route of Historic Gardens

In the calm imposed by the emergency, we have the opportunity of contemplating the garden, not as an expression of uncontaminated nature, but as a place of a dynamic balance, always in motion, like the branches of the same tree competing with each other to grab the best position to catch the light.

Mr. Valentini,
the agronomist at the Istituto Autonomo Villa Adriana e Villa d’Este- Villae in in Tivoli

Herrenhausen Gardens

We are part of nature

These days, more than ever, we need to learn something from those extraordinary images.

We are part of nature, as Mr. Clark observes, or users of nature, as Mrs. Drag argues, but in one case or the other, we have an obligation.

We need to preserve humanity, as part or user of nature.

As Mr. Clark and Mrs. Drag respectively argue:

Thus, we should not presume having to protect nature, but trying to preserve humanity in the long term in the sense of garden thinking. This includes a careful use of our resources, air, soil, water, animals and plants. However, garden thinking always includes culture and aesthetics: the combination of the useful and the beautiful (Clark, 2019).

Mr. Ronald Clark,
Director of Herrenhausen Gardens, partner member of the European Route of Historic Gardens

Nature is one of the most significant Partners whose human civilization has up to now. Partnership, however – like any mutual exchange of benefits – imposes many obligations on both Partners. We – as users of Nature, profit its beauty, values and indisputable benefits, but as a package of activities passed in return – we are obliged to provide Nature with fundamental factors that ensure our free use of the environment (Drag, 2020).

Mrs. Monika Drag,
Manager of the Gardens at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, member of the Scientific Committee and member of the Board of Directors of the European Route of Historic Gardens

Thanks to gardeners and managers

Our gardens are closed these days, but those who take care of them are still with them.

All people involved in the maintenance and management of our gardens share the purpose to preserve them, to maintain their beauty now, so that we can enjoy it later.

Gardeners are committed people that work to maintain the life of our historic gardens.

As Mrs. Landi comments in a private note, we really have to thank (the gardeners) for the huge sense of care and affection to the place. We also need to appreciate and thank garden managers for their work and involvement.

Managers of our gardens have also worked hard re-organizing work schedules, reducing the presence of workers in the gardens, delegating employees to work at home, re-orienting the visitors experience towards visual and virtual visits, making good use of technology and trying to keep everyone safe…

But these days also mean an opportunity for managers, as Mr. Sedia and Mrs. Giusti highlights:

The period of “absence” gives us the opportunity to rethink new forms of management and protection of the historic gardens of which we take care. The artificial nature of our gardens, which are governed by Euclidean geometric order, has undergone the continuous reinterpretation of its formal characteristics and symbolic-aesthetic values.

Today we need to ask ourselves about the meaning of its “continuity” by promoting policies that can anticipate and support the “continuous change” of next generations’ view (Sedia, in Istituto Autonomo Villa Adriana e Villa d’Este, 2020).

Mr. Fabio Sedia,
Funzionario Architetto at Istituto Autonomo Villa Adriana e Villa d’Este d’Este – Villae in Tivoli (Italy)

The current, unexpected situation, which strongly affects the times and the modalities of our operations, takes place in years already aggravated by the altered climate conditions and it requires an approach more forcefully oriented to environmental and economic sustainability. This is an aspect that, in this phase of elaboration of our master plan, takes us to reflect and to see in another light our planning and management choices

Mrs. Maria Adriana Giusti,
(Politecnico di Torino), member of the General Board of the National Carlo Collodi Foundation and scientific manager for the Historic Garzoni Garden (Italy)

Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów

We can´t go and visit our historic gardens now, but we want you to enjoy their quietness and beauty by sharing with you these pictures and videos taken and filmed these days.

In the meantime, gardens await us, and when we finally get to visit them, they will benefit us in ways we might have not appreciated before. We need to consider their important value today, more than ever. As Mr. Bruciati explains:

We are an ecosystem linked to deep and ancient roots. We consider the greenery, the open spaces and the historic garden a necessary and essential asset, also aimed at improving psychophysical well-being, as well as a value to be protected with greater attention at a time when its beauty cannot be enjoyed by the public. (Bruciati, in Istituto Autonomo Villa Adriana e Villa d’Este, 2020)

Mr. Bruciati,
Director of Istituto Autonomo Villa Adriana e Villa d’Este
Villae in Tivoli (Italy)

Collaboration to overcome this global problem

In these difficult days, we have all realized about the importance of being together and collaborating to overcome this global problem. We share the urge to think and act, more than ever. As Mr. Clark concludes in his lecture:

I conclude with a quote by Erich Kästner: “There is nothing good unless you do it”. So, do not lament but do something. Small as well as big. It does not hurt to think long term and act that way.

Our future generations are calling for a U-turn. Let us older people encourage them to continue to interfere, to act proactively, and to take responsibility. But please not just in the interests of technical environmental protection. Because in order to stick to the image of garden acting, our world should not only function, but also be beautiful and livable (Clark, 2019).

Mr. Ronald Clark,
Director of Herrenhausen Gardens, partner member of the European Route of Historic Gardens

Reflections from our members to adapt to the present situation

These introductory words give way to a series of articles and lectures written by some of our garden members and members of our Scientific Committee. Their reflections on the role of historic gardens and adaptation to the present situation are enriching and inspiring for all of us.

Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów

Historic garden maintenance vs. COVID-19

News from the Willanow Palace Gardens in Warsaw (Poland), written by its Manager, Mr. Lukasz Przybylak, member of the Scientific Committee and Vice-president of the European Route of Historic Gardens

Garden Allegory

How the Gardens at the Royal Palace in Warsaw is acting during the COVID-19 epidemic, by Mrs. Monika Drag, Manager of the (Poland), member of the Scientific Committee and member of the Board of Directors of the European Route of Historic Gardens

Gardens Of The Royal Castle In Warsaw

Green, Garden, Landscape: A dynamic balance to promote and protect our Heritage

Reflections and actions at the time of Covid Sars 19 from Mr. Bruciati, Director of Istituto Autonomo Villa Adriana e Villa d’Este in Tivoli (Italy), partner garden of the European Route of Historic Gardens

Garden Thinking and Garden Behavior

Written by Mr. Ronald Clark, Director of Herrenhausen Gardens in Hannover (Germany), partner garden of the European Route of Historic Gardens

Herrenhausen Gardens

Spring 2020 at the Historic Garzoni Garden in Collodi

Mrs. Maria Adriana Giusti (Politecnico di Torino), member of the General Board of the National Carlo Collodi Foundation and scientific manager for the Historic Garzoni Garden in Collodi, (Italy) partner garden of the European Route of Historic Gardens

We are glad to announce the reopening of one of our historic gardens: The Unesco World Heritage Gardens of Aranjuez

On Monday, May 11th, National Heritage has reopened the Aranjuez Gardens so that the riversiders have more space to walk during the outings allowed.

To be united makes more sense than ever. Let’s make the best out of our union, the European Route of Historic Gardens.

Ana Rosa Moreno

Technical Manager
European Route of Historic Gardens