My first thought on entering Annevoie Gardens was “I wonder how many water pumps are used here?” You’d probably ask the same question, as the gardens are filled with fountains, jets and cascades, which surely – you would think – need numerous heavy-duty, submersible pumps? However, to my surprise, I discovered that everything works entirely naturally, without any mechanical or electrical intervention.
The gardens’ designer, Charles-Alexis de Montpellier, a local iron merchant, clearly knew what he was doing when he started creating Annevoie Gardens in 1758. His first task was to dig a 400-metre-long canal at the highest point of his 28-hectare grounds, and fill it with water from the nearby Fonteny spring. After that he constructed a complex network of inter-connecting underground channels running from the canal. It was then a “simple” matter of excavating about twenty pools and ponds and adorning them with over fifty fountains, cascades and waterfalls. It took him nearly twenty years to finish, but by 1776 Annevoie Gardens was complete, and has remained functional ever since. And that’s no exaggeration – the water has been flowing non-stop for 230 years and continues throughout the year, even in the rare occurrence of a dry Belgian summer. Continue reading