Historicism (1850 - 1914)

From about 1850, viticulture (grape growing) in Europe experienced a period of decline and became limited to regions with a favourable climate. This was mostly the result of phylloxera (a vine pest) and new fungal diseases affecting espalier trees. On facades, grapevine was gradually replaced by purely ornamental plants. From England came the fashion for lush greenings primarily for ornamental value, both for country and town houses. Roses and clematis have become indispensable ever since! The arbours/pergolas of the growing number of small gardens were greened. In industrial architecture, as well as in the multi-storey residential construction of the "Gründerzeit" in 1871 onwards, however, building greening played hardly any role. At about the same time, though, the garden city movement arose, around 1900. This will be described separately.

Castle greened with silver lace vine in Tudor style (neo-Gothic), Püchau / Saxony
Castle greened with silver lace vine in Tudor style (neo-Gothic), Püchau / Saxony

Facade Greening as a Decorative Element

In the second half of the 19th century, buildings were decorated with greenery when the emperor or king came to a town or village. This was based on the old practice of not throwing anything away and using everything at hand, including the cuttings from evergreen plants (ivy, boxwood, holly). The shoots were braided into garlands and attached to the facades, as the leathery, waxy leaves lasted a long time. But, after so many new climbing plants were becoming available, attempts were made in many places to replace these green garlands with permanent greenery on wires for plants to climb. From time to time, treillages -- ornamental trellises without any plants were placed on facades.

New Climbing Plants

The new climbing plants which broadened the design pallet usually came from Asia, often via England: akebia (1845), bittersweet (1860), Boston ivy (1862), kiwi (1874) and silver lace vine (1899). In 1858 came the still famous "clematis jackmannii" from English breeding. Soon hundreds of rose and clematis cultivars from England and France followed, and around 1900, virtually all of the climbing plants that we use today were established.

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Photo Gallery

Here you can see examples of greened facades from the Historicism period. Some of the plants date back to the time of the building's construction. Please click on the pictures!