Artifact Corner: Henry’s Gardens

Hi Everyone and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at a drawing done by Henry Delord in one of his day books. This particular day book Henry used in 1818. He kept multiple day books in his time here in Plattsburgh. He used them to keep track of his Red Store’s nances, document milestones with his family, and in this instance, map out the gardens and grounds around the home. The details on the map are incredibly helpful for reconstructing the property in Henry Delord’s day. Henry was born and raised in France, and admired the beautifully curated and cultivated gardens of the Palace of Versailles. When he nally had a stately home, he had the gardens laid out in a very organized, and carefully designed. Let’s learn a bit more about the gardens Henry emulated, the gardens at the Palace of Versailles.

The grounds on which the gardens and the palace of Versailles lie once belonged to France’s nance minister. He was disgraced when it was discovered that he had been embezzling funds from the Crown. King Louis XIII then took over the property. He made some improvements to the grounds and gardens, but no major renovations. That changed when Louis XIV took the throne. In 1661 Louis XIV entrusted André Le Nôtre with the creation and renovation of the gardens of Versailles, which he considered just as important as the Palace. Work on the gardens was started at the same time as the work on the palace and lasted for 40 or so years. During this time André Le Nôtre collaborated with the likes of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Superintendent of Buildings to the King from 1664 to 1683, who managed the project, and Charles Le Brun, who was made First Painter to the King in January 1664 and provided the drawings for a large number of the statues and fountains. Last but not least, each project was reviewed by the King himself, who was keen to see “every detail”.

The Chateau de Versailles website describes the construction and maintenance of the gardens as follows: “Creating the gardens was a monumental task. Large amounts of soil had to be shifted to level the ground, create parterres, build the Orangery and dig out the fountains and Canal in places previously occupied solely by meadows and marshes. Trees were brought in from di erent regions of France. Thousands of men, sometimes even entire regiments, took part in this immense project. To maintain the design, the garden needed to be replanted approximately once every 100 years. Louis XVI did so at the beginning of his reign, and the undertaking was next carried out during the reign of Napoleon III. Following damage caused by a series of storms in the late 20th century, including one in December 1999, which was the most devastating, the garden has been fully replanted and now boasts a fresh, youthful appearance similar to how it would have looked to Louis XIV.”

Henry’s day books are in beautiful condition. They are currently housed in special collections in SUNY Plattsburgh’s library, so they are accessible to students and the public. If you are interested in learning more about the gardens and grounds here at KDHM, we have a fantastic event scheduled for June 3rd and 4th. Join us for our Farm and Garden festival, where we will be giving tours of the gardens and grounds, having blacksmithing demonstrations, planting seeds with children, learning about pollinators and much more! The event is free and fun for the whole family! We hope to see you there, and as always, thanks so much for stopping by.

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
Free download:
License (CC BY 4.0):
Artist website: