Grosssedlitz and the Grassy Pool

Grosssedlitz (yes, it has three s’s) is an intriguing unfinished baroque garden outside Dresden. It was begun in 1719 by August Christoph Count von Wackerbarth before being acquired by Augustus the Strong, who lost interest in it apart from having it as the site for festivities for the Polish Order of the White Eagle. It was never finished and suffered from neglect until being acquired by the Free State of Saxony in 1992. There is no palace as what there was there was constantly being pulled down and not rebuilt, but there are two orangeries completed after 1992 (Fig. 1). These house bitter oranges which are brought out in pots to populate the garden in summer. Presumably much of the planting dates from after 1992.

The most memorable feature is the way many of the fountains and terraces never reached the operational stage, so that we only have the raw, but intact stonework in place, and everything around it that was intended to have been pools and paths is grassed (Figs 2, 3, 4) This gives it a remarkable serenity. This photo of a fountain jet against the lawn sums this up (Fig. 5), as does this one of the merangoli (Fig. 6) The grassed pools are quite fascinating, and almost constitute a design idea in its own right (Fig. 2). Waterworks on a decent scale, as I have discovered, are difficult and expensive, and require heavy investment in pumps and complicated masonry. And you cannot have water without the pumping system operating properly because of mosquitoes, so the existing pond has been drained. Since at Villa Castagna the excavation work for the water terraces has been done, but there is no money for the masonry and pumps, such grassed terraces are an option. So this corner of the garden has been renamed from Wörlitz to Grosssedlitz.

The main feature at Grossedlitz is a theatre, populated with the bitter oranges (Fig. 7). It displays the vast scale and repetition of fine detail of some of the best late Baroque German garden designs. Not that water is absent: there is a fine water display at the ‘stage’ end of the theatre (Fig. 8).

The statues at Grosssedlitz are rather fine examples of Rococo garden statuary, including a nymph and satyr which has some interesting passages (!) (Figs. 9, 10).

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