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 since 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 main feature is a theatre, populated with bitter oranges (Fig. 2). It displays the vast scale and repetition of fine detail of some of the best late Baroque German garden designs. There is a fine water display at the ‘stage’ end of the theatre (Fig. 3).
The simplicity of this scheme- just grass, gravel, and regular formal topiary, is strangely restful, far more so than any other Baroque garden I know, all of which have brights displays of colour (Figs. 4, 5).
The statues at Grosssedlitz are rather fine examples of Rococo garden statuary, including a nymph and satyr which has some interesting passages (!) (Figs. 6, 7).
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 8, 9, 10) This gives it a remarkable serenity.
The grassed pools are quite fascinating, and almost constitute a design idea in its own right. Waterworks on a decent scale are difficult and expensive, and require heavy investment in pumps and plumbing, as without them they become mosquito farms (at least in Australia). So the idea of a grassed space that appears to be, or represents, a pool is an attractive one. Grosssedlitz is heavy on stonework, which might be hard to justify in a pool that is not a pool, though if you think about it the situation is no different: both are instances of useless garden features.