In this world filled with stress it is important to have as much public and private greenery as possible. Wirtz International makes designs of the highest class – from the original
concept and schematic suggestions, to the end phases of the building process. We work with big movements, making big gestures in small and large gardens. Gardens need to express a strong character. To maintain this character we take care of the maintenance of our projects executed. Founder Jacques Wirtz was born in Antwerp in 1924 and established the company in 1950. Since then, the business has grown into a family company that has been led by his two sons, Martin and Peter, for the last 25 years. Martin Wirtz studied Landscape Architecture at the Tuinbouwschool in Melle, Belgium. He has been working as a Landscape Architect within the family business since 1986. His brother Peter Wirtz joined in 1990. He studied Music in Antwerp, Belgium and then Landscape Architecture at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
Wirtz International has impacted landscape design around the world. Notably, the firm redesigned the Carrousel Garden in Paris, which links the Louvre to the Tuileries and the gardens of the Élysée Palace. Raf Simons, designer for Christian Dior, commissioned Wirtz to design a catwalk for the Haute Couture Fashion Show Spring-Summer 2013. In the UK, we reimagined the gardens of the 11th century Alnwick Castle for the 12th Duchess of Northumberland. In addition to multiple public spaces around the world, Martin & Peter Wirtz have
designed private gardens in Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United States (California, New York, Florida,
Kansas, …), etc. Each design is one of a kind yet recognizable with iconic Wirtz details.
– Dan Kiley
– Vita Sackville-West
– Frederick Law Olmsted
– Carl Theodor Sørensen
The Alnwick Garden
The challenge in this project, was to find a language that would keep the heterogeneous program items together in one design. It is conceived as variations on two themes, being the circle and the wavy line. Themes as various as cascade, labyrinth, spiral, poisonous plants garden, rose garden, garden of the senses, or serpent garden, all are composed as variation on both themes.
The cascade is a curvilinear vessel which is placed on the existing 12% slope. The forced perspectives of its narrowing shape towards the top is echoed by wavy hornbeam arbours with windows they forcefully frame the cascade. On both outsides, dramatic existing berms are planted with clipped beech and house a hidden world with rills and pools. The role of the arbour as dividing feature between the “finer” centre and the “rougher” woodland park is continued on the old wall that runs east-west.
Against this central east-west wall, the visitor can descend to the Poisonous Plants Garden or discover a series of stainless steel water sculptures by William Pye. In the Serpent Garden they are all laid out as circular features off the concave twists of the central serpentine hedge.
To the north-west of the garden, the presence of the high brick wall is exploited to create a Rose Garden. The visitor can explore it from a wavy wrought iron pergola or in the open air. At the end they merge around an old historic fox sculpture in a circular space. To the east of the Rose Garden, a labyrinth of bamboo on raised beds confuses the visitor by its twisting pattern in the dark under the arching bamboo grove.
All these gardens click into each other as a compact engine of great density, in contrast with the openness of the central lawn and cascade, to which the visitor always can return. Those that walk up the cascade are rewarded in the top garden, by a geometric but very lushly planted flower garden. It features as a jewel box on itself within the large garden. It is the highest point in the garden and feels like the origin of all water features.
Private garden "La Petite Garenne"
Wild regularity’ is the spirit which dominates this garden east of Antwerp, which was designed for a new house built in 1989. The site is a fine one, a clearing in woodland with excellent deciduous and evergreen trees – oaks (Quercus robur and the American red oak, Q. rubra), beech (Fagus sylvatica) and Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris). The house itself, and its site, are asymmetrical yet the broad brush strokes of the garden layout suggest symmetry.
The eye-catcher in this peaceful garden is the goose-foot pattern of empty grass paths and raised triangular beds filled with ornamental grasses. The radiating grass paths, incidentally, are delicately tapered as they extend away from the house, creating a false perspective, so that the garden seems even more spacious than it is.
The house and garden are clasped in a roughly U-shaped canal which has been turned into one of the most remarkable and beautiful of features. Beyond the ‘parterre’, the far side of the canal is banked up and embellished with a beech hedge running its whole length and clipped into four steps or tiers as it ascends the bank.
The garden is a playful composition of sensual textures and colors that change and remain across the seasons, and through which the graphic sterility of the geometric patterns break out.