Kamma and Knud Lyne Rahbek in the Garden at Bakkehuset. Drawing by Christian Hetsch dated 1883. The drawing was made many years after Kamma and Knud Lyne Rahbek’s death and so there is no evidence that the garden actually looked as it does in the image.
Kamma Rahbek had a true passion for gardening and she was well informed on the subjects of botany and horticulture. In 1798, following their marriage, while the couple were still renting a part of the property at Bakkehuset, Kamma Rahbek only had the use of a stony uncultivated plot to indulge her gardening passion. When Kamma and Knud Lyne Rahbek actually bought Bakkehuset in 1802, Kamma had the opportunity to plant and reorganize the large garden that belonged to the house. In 1812 the garden was expanded, with the purchase of an additional plot of land, which brought the size of the garden to 7 acres. The garden consisted of an ornamental garden that was close to the house and a kitchen garden a little further away.
Unfortunately, no formal designs of Rahbek’s garden have been discovered and there are very few descriptions. The couple's niece, Marie Louise Konow, described how Kamma Rahbek's garden was designed in modern style, that is to say a landscaped garden where lawns played a new and distinctive aspect.
There were a number of trees in the garden, including two large linden trees in front of the building's facade, also at the front of the house there were flowerbeds. Kamma Rahbek shared her vast botanical knowledge with a circle of professional gardeners and enthusiastic amateurs not least Frederik Ludvig Holbøll, head gardener at Copenhagen’s Botanical Gardens.
Kamma Rahbek's account book with lists of her garden vegetables
Kamma's Kitchen Garden
In addition to the flower garden, Kamma Rahbek also planted a kitchen garden where she grew herbs and vegetables. Part of the produce from the kitchen garden was consumed by Bakkehuset's own household; the rest was sold at local markets. According to contemporary sources the kitchen garden was highly productive. Kamma Rahbek kept an account of the yield of fruit and vegetables from the garden. Her records show that she grew: spinach, lettuce, turnips, carrots, chervil, radishes, Swedish turnips, cucumbers, mange tout, green beans, runner beans, cauliflower, kale, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, onions, leeks and potatoes. In addition she grew berries like gooseberries, strawberries, blackcurrants and red currents and fruits such as apples. There were garden herbs like parsley, Mattioli and lavender and more exotic herbs which were said to have medical benefits, such as costmary and southern wormwood.
An opaque watercolour or gouache on the bottom of one of Kamma Rahbek’s card boxes. The bouquet contains white lilies, pink peonies, white geraniums, tulips, delphiniums, columbine and Spanish marigolds. Next to the bouquet can be seen peach and plumb branches. The arch around the bouquet is decorated with bunches of grapes which Kamma Rahbek also had growing outside her drawing room window.