The Gardens are open to the public and can be accessed from the Palace and Palævej, but also from along the fjord, where the promenade connects the Gardens with the harbour and the town.
The palace garden is beautifully located at an enticing spot next to the narrow Augustenborg fjord. There are benches along the footpaths in the summer from which the picturesque view can be enjoyed. Initially the area was forested, but in the late 17th century, part of the forest was cleared to make way for the first Augustenborg Palace and shortly afterwards the first garden was laid out.
The current much larger palace was built in 1764-76 and was a symbol of the duke’s rank and status, but something was missing – a princely garden. This led to the hiring of Court Gardener Johan C. Krafft, who was commissioned in 1777.
Krafft laid out the garden in the baroque style inspired by the French model. The formal part closest to the palace was laid out on a fixed axis with hedges and parterres, vases, figurines, straight gravel paths, temples and a triumphal arch. Avenues of lime trees were also laid out. The southernmost, called the First Avenue, originates from the first palace, while the second one, which is oriented along the central axis of the present palace, was laid out by Krafft. The Third Avenue is located in the north-western part of the “pleasure forest”, up to which the Garden leads.
The court gardener was not only responsible for the main garden, but also for the fruit and vegetable gardens north of the park. The Palace always needed a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables. In addition, there was also the “pleasure forest” and later also the orchards and ornamental gardens around the mansion. In total about 34 acres of land, or roughly 1/6 of the land under Augustenborg Manor Farm. The court gardener received help from 20 corvée workers from the manor farm and 100 men from the estate Gammelgård.
In the late 18th century, a veritable garden and park mania broke out in Europe. The formal garden was replaced by the new English or romantic style. The old duke, Frederick Christian I, did not allow himself to be dictated by the trends of the time, but when a new duchess, Louise Augusta, moved into the palace, some changes had to be made. In the early 1800s, the palace garden was converted into a romantic English landscape garden by Court Gardener Gottfried Hunæus.
Since then, the palace garden has not changed much and can still be seen as an expression of a civilisation and romanticization of the untamed nature, where the order and structure of the garden room extends into the open via the large double-leafed garden door.
This romanticization, however, meant that the garden lost part of its formal character, not least the distinct axis of symmetry of which the garden room was the impressive epicentre. With the removal of the parterres, the central axis to the Second Avenue was erased. Over time, the lime trees in the front part of the Second Avenue have died, and it therefore seems offset in relation to the axis. The axis still exists though and runs 1.3 kilometres from Slotsallé, through the palace courtyard, the garden room and the Second Avenue in the Forest and ends at the water’s edge.
Over time, various gardeners have planted exotic trees that do not grow freely in Denmark. They are not rare species, but many of them are considered worthy of preservation due to their history, age, and size. These include the Lime Tree of Hans Christian Andersen, the Mammoth Tree, a giant sequoia, the large plane trees, etc. Small nameplates have been set up next to some of the trees.
Augustenborg Palace Gardens were described in the acclaimed five-volume work “Theorie der Gartenkunst” by Christian Cay Lorenz Hirschfeld, who was a professor at the University of Kiel. Hirschfeld’s description and Nickels Wögen’s map from 1796 paint a fairly accurate picture of the gardens in the late 18th century.
In recent times, the garden has been used for palace concerts with big names performing, such as Elton John, Eric Clapton and Bryan Adams. The garden also formed the setting for the family concert “A Sunday on Als” with a picnic atmosphere and good vibe. The Royal Danish Ballet has also performed here, and since the scenery suited the ensemble perfectly, there are plans for a rerun.
You can find more stories about the sites in the palace gardens and the Forest in the app. Follow the Augustenborg Path to explore the whole area.