The two hundred hectares of the Landscape Park in Duisburg is big enough for the largest of festivals both within its many converted industrial buildings and across its open tracts and wooded areas. There are numerous places to loose oneself, nooks and crannies to explore, walkways high in the sky to view the terrain and in one corner a series of highly interesting small gardens.
The gardens within the Landschaftspark, Duisburg-Nord are concentrated in the central area amidst the vast walls, towers and gantries of the old steel factory. In my previous post on this park I showed some of the small green spaces that offer a degree of privacy, but here I want to show some images of the more gardened gardens.
These gardens are arranged side by side within massive concrete walls that once formed storage areas for the various ores needed for the blast furnaces and metal processing plant. Needless to say, these bunkers were highly polluted and fresh soil needed to be brought in to create these gardens.
Entrances have been cut through the thick walls to allow access to secluded gardens that once inside evoke memories of the medieval hortus conclusus; it is hard to believe that you are within the heart of a busy park landscape.
However, the point I found most interesting about these gardens is that they are not only to be enjoyed at ground level, but can be viewed from a walkway high above them. In fact, this is the most likely way these gardens are to be seen.
The first of these gardens is the most conventional. Planted with box hedges, roses and hydrangeas and offering seating against its protective walls; this is truly a garden retreat. But when viewed from above the design is seen clearly with the hedges placed diagonally and formed into irregular waves that run counter to their rectilinear surroundings. Although clever and highly effective, both from above and from within, I found this garden the least successful as it appeared far too arranged, trim, even domestic.
The other gardens are more abstract and are clearly designed for viewing from above. The plantings are simple with plants arranged in lines and bands of differing width. These are exercises in form and texture and reminded me more of abstract paintings than real gardens. One in particular caught my imagination and prompted me to abstract it further on my computer into a series of colour studies.
These various gardens bring me back to the point I made at the beginning of Part One; their setting is everything. I am not suggesting that these abstract gardens should become the model for a private garden, but rather that in public green spaces, perennials are too often used as would be the case in a private garden, in conventional beds and borders, and thereby fail to have an adequate impact. Public gardens need to be bold and robust and offer clear messages through the use of contrasting forms, patterns and textures.