A family tradition in designing outstanding gardens.
When Johannes Busch, one of the most renowned German born landscape artists and gardeners of his time, leaves England in 1771 to follow Catherine the Great’s (1729 – 1796) invitation for the installation of vast baroque gardens in Tsarskoye Selo (Pushkin) near Saint Petersburg, he is the first in a list of German garden architects serving the Russian court. Ever since then until 1918, the Romanovs imported plants from German nurseries and engaged garden designers and head gardeners from Prussia and other parts of Germany.
Tobey–Albert’s ancestors on his grandmother’s side are among these garden designers who were welcomed to Tsarskoye Selo to nourish Busch’s creations and to continually extend and refine the royal parks near Saint Petersburg.
Little information has survived the times of revolution and WWII. But we do know from family records that during Tsar Alexander II.’s (1818-1881) and Tsar Alexander III’s (1845-1894) reign Gottfried Wodtke from Pomerania (b.1831), Tobey’s great-great-grandfather, was purveyor of nursery plants, trees and shrubs to the Russian royal court in Tsarskoye Selo and to royal palaces of Prussia in Berlin and Potsdam.
In the 1890s Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918) invited Emil Wodtke (b.1864), Gottfried’s son and by then “Kunstgärtnermeister”, which translates to “master of garden art” to become his new “Hofgärtner”, or “court gardener” and landscape gardener. Emil and his family lived and worked on the grounds of Tsarskoye Selo as the Emperor’s “personal garden artist” for all three parks, Alexander, Catherine and Pawlowsk park, until he had to leave Russia during the revolution’s unrests.
Several personal gifts by the Tsar, acknowledging Emil’s achievements in the gardens of Tsarskoye Selo, survived the times until Tobey’s grandparents’ and father’s fleeing from former East-Germany in 1953. Among them was a – now lost – bright green egg with a little crack, which in the family had only been known as the “Tsar’s egg”. It was a simple and less ornate version of the renowned jeweled “Imperial Eggs” from the Saint Petersburg Fabergé atelier.
This is family and professional history spanning more than 150 years and we are happy and proud of being able to rejuvenate this heritage of creating highly individual gardens that will give their owners their private hideaway, full of relaxation and inspiration.
Today we cannot restrain from the inspirational thought that a long time ago, on a bright and pleasant day in spring, our ancestor Emil, as garden artist to the last Tsar, was presented by him with a Fabergé egg that must have mirrored to Tsar Nicholas II the cheerfulness of his parks’ wonderful greens.