by Nicholas Walker, Brand Ambassador for kathy ireland Designs – Jardin
Situated in the Haute-Meuse region in Belgium the Gardens of Annevoie mix the splendor and majesty of the French style with English romanticism and Italian refinement. Designed to unveil their treasures little by little, as you are lead from one surprise to another, visitors are surrounded by cascades and fountains, majestic hundred-year old trees, false grottoes and charming extravagancies.
The Gardens of Annevoie , which are in a state of constant evolution, provide an unique setting where the waters have been flowing non-stop for the last 250 years – without any machinery – by a miracle of ingenuity.
The Gardens reflect the history of the de Montpellier family who inherited the estate at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Work on the gardens started around 1758 after John Montpellier found inspiration in his many travels through Europe, basing his gardens’ concept on three philosophies.
The French style or “art corrects nature” – avoiding all curves and windings in order to create long and majestic perspectives, making areas of the gardens such as the Drive of Flowers, the Grand Drive and the French Cascade look like a painting.
The Italian style or “art adapts to nature” – where architecture brings out variety, contrast and surprise effects, integrating curves, differences in level etc into the landscape. Water, one of the main features, is considered to be the soul of the gardens.
The English style or “art imitates nature” – where architecture attempts to reproduce natural effects artificially, as found in the man-made English Cascade and Neptune’s Cave.
The original owner-designer, Charles-Alexis de Montpellier, had travelled widely and, having seen the gardens of Italy, France and England wished to use ideas from each of these countries. The result is romantic, with a grand canal, and a grotto. There are some twenty ornamental pools with fifty water jets, fountains and cascades.
Ten generations of the de Montpellier family of Annevoie contributed to the creation of the Gardens before they came into the hands of the Jourdain family in 2000.
Since then, the Gardens have grown from 20 to 55 hectares and undergone the creation of many new features.
One of the garden’s main features are The Water Steps. They are the only water steps in Belgium – if not in Europe – that have survived in perfect working order since they were constructed around 1760; and mainly because no machinery is required for their functioning. Water supply to its reservoir, the grand canal, is entirely natural by one of four springs irrigating the gardens.