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Author Archives: Pim Alofs

Espalier fruit trees

A wall-mounted greenhouse and a variety of espalier trees will be placed along the 90-metre-long, newly built espalier wall in Huis Landfort’s vegetable garden. In the 19th century, espalier trees were common on country estates and they emerged as a counterpart to the standard tree orchard. In those days almost every farm had a standard orchard, but espalier fruit trees were mainly destined for the gardens of castles and country estates. Yet some farmers also planted espaliers on their farms. Espalier trees virtually disappeared in the 20th century due to the arrival of other fruit varieties and the introduction of low-stemmed fruit trees.

Expert gardeners trained and pruned espalier trees into the most wonderful shapes. Thanks to intensive pruning, the trees could grow into a fan shape, a candlestick or a long string. Sometimes they were shaped into a fence or hedge alongside a number of fruit trees. Pear trees were often trained along an arch to create a type of tunnel, which is also called a berceau. You can find these at various old country estates in the Netherlands and we will also create a berceau in the orchard at Huis Landfort.

When selecting the fruit trees to be planted, the foundation will opt for medium-height and low-growing standard trees. In addition to historic apple and pear varieties, other trees such as mulberries, medlars, quinces, peaches, plums and cherries will be planted against the espalier wall and in the standard orchard. The selected varieties have traditionally been common at castles, historic country estates and manors, or have a connection with them in some other way. This is how we illustrate the history and connection with other country estates in the Netherlands in our orchard.

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Übbing’s Maps

Two large maps by Johann Theodor Übbing (1786-1864), have returned to Huis Landfort after having been stored in the archives of the Geldersch Landschap & Kasteelen Foundation for many years. These are two special maps that Übbing made when he started working as an architect for Huis Landfort. He made one map outlining the situation he encountered when he started his work in 1823, and the second map shows his plans for his client Luyken. The oldest map illustrates much of what has changed since 1823. The manor house and pigeon tower on the newer map from 1825 are as we know them today, however, Übbing envisioned another layout of the garden. His plans may well have been realized but the design may have been changed a few years later by Jan David Zocher Jr. (1791-1870), who designed the current scenic park. His client Luyken may not have been satisfied with Übbing’s plan, which looked less grand than Zocher Jr.’s plan. Nevertheless, Übbing’s design drawing does demonstrate the large-scale metamorphosis that Huis Landfort underwent around 1825.

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Successful crowdfunding for trees for Huis Landfort

In November, René Dessing, director of the Landfort Heritage Foundation (sEL), started a crowdfunding to purchase 50 trees for Huis Landfort. In just five weeks, more than 50 (often expensive) trees were donated. Thanks to this sEL campaign, the park will now be embellished with exceptional trees. The restoration of Huis Landfort country estate in Megchelen is scheduled to be completed in 2022.    

The tree campaign was launched on 18 November 2020. Just before Christmas, the foundation received a gracious donation – every single tree on their tree campaign list had been gifted. In addition to money, nine trees were donated in kind. Six of these were a German gift, and tree care company Ormel graciously offered to transplant and transport two large 20-year-old magnolias free of charge. The foundation raised more than €40,000 with this campaign. The result of the crowdfunding perfectly complements the restoration, since Huis Landfort once boasted a wide variety of trees that had been planted by the former owners, the Luyken family. Of the many trees they planted, many have since disappeared due to WW II combats or old age.         

The donations vary from €300 to €2,500 per tree. In addition to donations made by architects and companies involved in the construction, numerous private donations were also made. Several trees were donated from Megchelen and the surrounding area, but the foundation also received money from other parts of the country. Two special trees were even gifted by a celebrity who lives in Italy! There were various reasons which prompted people to donate. Seven trees were gifts in remembrance of a loved one, two of which by people who are approaching the end of their lives. Some trees honour a spouse, while others have been donated to show their appreciation of the Huis Landfort project. One company decided against promotional gifts during the Christmas season this year and informed its business relationships that it would adopt a tree instead.

In addition to a large private donation, subsidies from the State and Province of Gelderland, as well as donations from numerous funds, private individuals and companies contribute to the realization of this special project. The more than 50 trees will help reclaim the original grandeur of these beautiful historic country estates along the German-Dutch border. When selecting the trees, particular attention was paid to their ability to adapt properly to their new environment.

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