“Cette maison estoit accompagnée d’un jardin spacieux, où il fit planter pour la curiosité des arbres de toutes les especes qu’il peut recouvrer”.
"This house was accompanied by a spacious garden, where he had trees of all the species he could find planted for curiosity."
Roger de Piles (1635-1709)
Roger de Piles, who wrote the first Rubens biography, could not have put it better: the house was accompanied by a spacious garden, where Rubens, out of curiosity, planted trees of any species he could find. The master attached enormous importance to his garden. For him, that green oasis was a canvas to express his creativity. He could test his colour palette there. Rubens had great respect for his gardener Willem. This is evident from his pay slip: Willem, the head gardener, earned as much as the butler.
Spectacle on the Wapper
Bringing in the trees was a spectacular operation. A 58-metre-high crane lifted the mature trees between 10 and 15 metres over the historic Rubens House, which is recognised as a protected monument. Everything had been calculated down to the millimetre and meticulously prepared so that the operation went smoothly.
After the renovation, the inner garden will become the largest museum hall of the renovated Rubens House: a contemporary baroque garden with 39 new trees, accompanying the age-old yew. The choice of trees was very deliberate. Not every tree species in the garden was once admired by Rubens himself. There are also tree species which have only recently appeared, but which are important for biodiversity, such as the magnolia from Asia or the dead bone tree from America.
The following species were planted: medlar, apple tree, evergreen magnolia, peach, black oak, false acacia, fig tree, pear tree, dead bone tree, Turner's oak, Chinese varnish tree.
Future-proof, energy-efficient and accessible. That, in a nutshell, is the concept of our new museum garden. Thanks to its layered vegetation structure, the garden will be an ecological stepping stone in the city that should have a mitigating effect on higher temperatures, flooding during heavy rainfall, urban noise and the large amounts of CO2 and particulate matter in the air.
No fewer than six large water tanks are buried in the garden. They collect between 10,000 and 15,000 litres of rainwater each, which is channelled through the roofs to the buffer tanks. Precious water that does not go to waste, but is used for flushing the toilets in the new building and for the plants in the garden. Water in an old well in the courtyard is also used for watering the plants.