Flemish Garden of the Four Seasons - Expo Brussels 1958

Flemish Garden of the Four Seasons at the Exhibition Expo Brussels 1958
© Expo58

Everything has always happened in countries steeped in tradition, as if mysterious correspondences have guided those who gently compose gardens over the centuries: writers, musicians, painters and sculptors.

The origin of the compartmentalized garden can be traced back to ancient Persia. The Persian gardeners built irrigation canals, the cross-shaped layout of which marked out the first four flowerbeds.

This compartmentalized aspect of the garden can be found in our countries in the Middle Ages, in the courtyards of monasteries and in their vegetable gardens. At the end of the feudal era, these gardens were decorated with boxwood designs. "It was in the design of the parterre that the artist had to deploy all the resources of his imagination; it was there that he had to multiply the arabesques, the interlaced figures, the heraldic figures, the flattering allegories.

It was also here that the gardener, charged with painting this embroidery, had to lavish and skilfully arrange the colours of his palette - we mean the flowers of his nurseries - and that the problem of composition arose.

The better times of the Renaissance allowed the gardens to expand, but from the Middle Ages they kept their compartmentalized aspect and their parterres with boxwood embroidery. These characteristics are reflected in the Flemish Four Seasons garden, which was inspired by a painting by Vredeman de Vries, a Renaissance theorist in our country, but it does not claim to revive any earlier work.

A long mirror of water represents winter in its bare beauty. A vaulted gallery, like a cloister, surrounds this scene deserted by life with its silence. White tulips, planted around the perimeter of the pool, wisely await nature's awakening.

We find the picture of this awakening in the neighbouring spring garden. Here, the gallery encloses a delightful garden full of life; a fountain sings between two flowerbeds, where bright tulips, forget-me-nots and doricas combine red with yellow, and yellow with blue.

In the summer garden, the water of the fountain has become more abundant, in a warmer air; it spreads on the ground, runs between four beds where the rose predominates, on a yellow and blue background.

The painting, which is proposed to us as an illustration of the autumn season, is set in violet, yellow and white tones; the fountain diffuses a light mist between two embroidered flowerbeds, which invite the lingering walker to meditate.

© Rapport Général sur l'Exposition Universelle de Bruxelles 1958