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THE MONPLAISIR GARDEN

The intimate Monplaisir Garden, one of the oldest and historically most valuable parts of the Peterhof ensemble, lies in front of the southern façade of the Monplaisir Palace. The garden is enclosed on the east and west by identical single-storey service blocks. Adjoining them at left and right are the Catherine and Bath House blocks, the Assembly Hall, the Pantry, Kitchen, and Coffee Room.

Two walks intersect each other at right angles and divide the square garden into four compartments, in which are grouped patterned flower-beds and cloche or water-bell fountains; a fifth fountain, the largest of all, the Sheaf, stands at the intersection of the walks.

Two side walks border the garden and lead to the entrances to Monplaisir. They emphasize the unity of the palace and its garden, which serves as a kind of open-air vestibule, with parterres for inlaid floors, and the gilt statues crowning the liquid crystal of the fountains, for interior decoration. The furniture consists of two pretty settees; but they are made of trelliswork and, if occasion demands, can turn out to be trick fountains.

The sketches for the Monplaisir Garden, hand-drawn by Peter the Great, have survived. He also chose the species of trees and bushes to be planted. Between 1714 and 1716 Harnigfelt laid out the garden; and its decoration was completed seven years later, when seven fountains were built to a design of Michetti. Fountains with pools edged by patterned paving of coloured Dutch clinker, thirty-two gilded lead sculptures - statues and busts - a sundial on a marble pedestal, pleached walks and trellis galleries, clipped box hedges, lime and maple trees - all these features gave the Monplaisir garden a particularly elegant and festive aspect.

In the late 1740s the design of the garden was enriched by a flower parterre in the Baroque style, with ceramic vases made at the Neva Brick and Tile Works from a model by the master-gardener Fock, and new trees and bushes, planted and clipped into the shapes of pyramids and balusters. In 1762 freely-growing oak trees were planted, and this introduced an element of informal landscaping into the garden's severely geometrical and symmetrical layout. At the end of the eighteenth and during the first half of the nineteenth centuries, when the deformed lead statues were removed, the treillage galleries taken down, and the pleached walks destroyed, the original layout of the garden and the design of the fountain display nevertheless remained intact.

The War of 1941-45 did great damage to the garden. In the years immediately after the War, it was cleared of mines and cleaned up; in 1951 and 1952, the patterned flower-beds and the trellised galleries were re-created and new planting was carried out, under the direction of Kontskaya, in accordance with an eighteenth-century design.

Today the Monplaisir Garden, again an elegant open-air entrance hall, welcomes new visitors to the old coastal palace.





View in the Monplaisir Garden


The Sheaf Fountain
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