Squeezed between trees

Just a quick post to keep you guys busy while I try to finish some work that needs eh.. finalizing. And a request for information, to keep you extra occupied (and because I don’t have the time).
In the past two months I‘ve seen several instances of a garden feature I knew existed, but just never saw in real life before. It is the sudden narrowing of a garden walk, created by two trees planted fairly close to each other on either side of the path. This means the path itself narrows a little, although initially the squeezing effect may be limited. As the root base of the trees grows broader, the path gets narrower every year.

I wonder whether this practise is visible (or ever mentioned) in the works and writings of -for example- Miller, Whately, Walpole, Hirschfeld, Pückler, Repton, Loudon, etc.?

I first saw it in the garden of Sanssouci, near the Antikentempel in the Rehgarten. This part of the garden was altered by Peter Joseph Lenné [from 1836 onwards]. I do not have a photo -which is a pity, because it was the best one yet: the trees were planted quite close together, almost forming a gate and briefly turning the path into a single file passage, before resuming to its normal width.

The other examples I found closer to home. At Eyckenstein in Maartensdijk there is one in a part of the garden that might just be on the edge of the garden designed by L.A. Springer [in 1882-1883]. At Stania State in the north of the country, there is an example in the garden behind the house [1821, design by L.P. Roodbaard]. In the nearby garden of Vijversburg, created by the same architect, this feature is also used [ca. 1843].

The feature seems to be very 19th century. I know of no examples dating back to the 18th century. But it does have that playful weirdness about it that many early landscape style garden features have. And I like those a lot, so it would be great to know when this started.
If anyone knows or can point to a reference, please let me know in a comment. And more examples are more than welcome!


A question: when did landscape architects start planting two trees close together on either side of a garden path, so the casual visitor feels the path narrows considerably?

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  1. Hoi Henk,

    Een antwoord kan ik je zo niet geven, maar wel een opmerking;
    In mijn artikel over Johannes Montsche, in CASCADE bulletin voor tuinhistorie 2012(21) nr. 1, bespreek ik een ontwerptekening van deze tuinarchitect. Het viel mij op, maar ik bespreek het niet in mijn bijdrage, dat er op een aantal plaatsen bomen worden getekend IN het pad, iets wat ongeveer neerkomt op een versmalling van het tuinpad.
    De tekening is niet gedateerd…helaas, maar moet in elk geval in de 2e helft van de 18e eeuw zijn gemaakt.

    Arinda vdD

  2. In english:
    Hi Henk,
    An answer so I can not give, but a remark; In my article about Johannes Montsche in CASCADE bulletin voor tuinhistorie, 2012 (21) No. 1, I discuss a sketch of this gardenarchitect. It struck me, but I do not discuss it in my article, that in some places trees are drawn IN the path, something roughly equivalent to a narrowing of the path. The drawing is not dated … unfortunately, but in any case in the 2nd half of the 18th century created.

    Arinda van der Does

  3. Thank you, Arinda! Montsche lived from 1734 to 1799, so it is definitely 18th century.
    Follow this link to see information and the design Arinda mentions in her article: [Ontwerp van de tuinen van Ruurlo], [18e eeuw].

    But it doesn’t seem to be the same. Looking at his design of Ruurlo he does not narrow the path by placing his trees close together. On other locations the paths narrow without the help of trees at all. But I also need to stress that in all gardens I mention, I have only seen the feature used once. So it is not a general way to narrow paths, it is a specific feature, probably reserved for very specific locations.

    But it is possible that this way of planting trees in the path -in combination with growth of the shrubbery surrounding the path- ultimately resulted in the narrowing effect; after which landscape architects started using it deliberatly…

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