Parc Monceau, Paris

Colonnade dans le parc Monceau, la Naumachie, Paris (VIIIe arr.), France, 12 septembre 1923, (Autochrome, 9 x 12 cm), Auguste Léon, Département des Hauts-de-Seine, musée Albert-Kahn, Archives de la Planète, A 39 095 S
La Naumachie Colonnade in Parc Monceau, Paris, September 12, 1923, by Auguste Léon, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine (both photos).

In Ancient Rome, a naumachia was a large basin dug for staging naval battles* as public entertainment. In Parc Monceau, La Naumachie is a tranquil oval pool framed on one end by a Corinthian colonnade.

Colonnade dans le parc Monceau, la Naumachie, Paris (VIIIe arr.), France, 12 septembre 1923, (Autochrome, 9 x 12 cm), Auguste Léon, Département des Hauts-de-Seine, musée Albert-Kahn, Archives de la Planète, A 39 089 S

The columns were once part of a never-completed late 16th century mausoleum attached to the Basilica of Saint Denis. In the late 1770s, they were acquired by the Duke of Chartres for an elaborate “Anglo-Chinese” public garden he was creating in northwest Paris. He filled it with architectural follies (see here) — one of them being a “Roman” colonnade.

The Duke was guillotined in 1793. His land was first confiscated and then returned to his heirs, who sold about half of it to developers. In the 1850s, the city bought the last 20 acres of the old garden, and Parc Monceau opened in 1861 as a largely informal “English-style” park. Today, there are still a few follies, although only the colonnade/naumachia and a small Egyptian pyramid remain from the 18th century.

The autochromes above are two of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker, between 1909 and 1931. Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to fifty countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.'”† The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here.


*The word also refers to the spectacle itself.

words of Albert Kahn, 1912. Also, the above photos (A 39 095 S and A 39 089) are © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

August Spielhaus garden

I want to bring you a little late summer update on this garden.

1a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
The garden and a corner of the 18th century Spielhaus through Deschampsia cespitosa grass.

I started out in March meaning to track the flowers of the Spielhaus (playhouse) perennial garden at the University of Hohenheim for this year’s GB Bloom Days. However, travel, gloomy weather, and hurting feet have interfered, and I haven’t posted an update since May.

4a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
I did pay a visit this week, however, on Tuesday evening, and there was lots of color.

Above, American Rudbeckia hirta or Black-eyed Susans draw the eye, paired with a red cultivar of Ricinus communes, and Coreopsis on the other side of the path.

The obelisk in the background memorializes Duke Carl Eugen von Württemberg and Franziska von Hohenheim. They built Hohenheim Palace (now a  University building) and the English landscape-style garden/arboretum around it (now the University’s botanical garden).

Franziska was first the king’s mistress, then his morganatic wife.  The main palace building was barely finished when he died.  The family then pressured her into giving up Hohenheim for another estate.

26a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above: the Rudbeckia and white Oenothera lindheimeri (gaura).

29a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
This pink phlox has a beautiful scent, but it has grown up over its label, so I can’t tell you the variety.

32a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above: with the red caster bean plant behind it.

9a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
The garden is roughly a rectangle with a bit of slope, set in front of the Spielhaus terrace. Narrow stone paths run through it lengthwise.

I don’t have the name of the species of the Panicum grass on the left above. The smoke bush on the right of the path is Cotinus coggygria ‘Young Lady’.

7a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above: tree peonies on the left, Agapanthus on the right.

11a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure

Above: the center area.

I particularly like the garden’s layout. And the display of plants is very popular with the neighborhood.  It’s rare that I get it almost to myself.

17a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above and below: heleniums in front of the terrace — unfortunately, the label was hidden.

16a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure

22a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above and the two photos below: looking across the garden from the Spielhaus terrace — left to right. (That’s another — taller and fuller — pink phlox on the left.)

21a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure

23a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure

25a Hohenheim garden, Aug 23, 2016, enclos*ure
Above: Just beyond the Spielhaus area, the trees, pond (left), and lawn of Carl Eugen’s and Franziska’s landscape garden.

Throughout this summer, the University has opened one room inside the Speilhaus on weekend afternoons.  If you click on ‘Continue reading’ below and then on any of the thumbnail images, you can see some snapshots that I took in late July.  The room holds a scale model of the palace grounds in Carl Eugen’s time, when there were about 60 folly-type buildings.  Today, only the Spielhaus and one other remain.

Continue reading “August Spielhaus garden”