Garden of Oleri Manor

Oleri Manor (Ohlershof) is located in the Landscape Protection and Cultural and Historical Landscape Protection area of North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve next to Oleri bog. The oak tree of the central glade in the manor park is a noble tree.

Oak alleys lead to the manor complex from both sides.

Buildings of Ohlershof and their surroundings for the first time were marked in 1683 on a map drawn up by Swedish surveyors. It is located near Oleri lake. Around 1860 the estate owner von Krüdener wanted to slightly lower the level of water, but as a result there initiated the bogging of the lake. Thus there formed the tales: "The old people of Oleri tell that the baron's daughter fell in love with the estate stoker, who in his turn made a drawing of the beautiful girl on the wall of the manor basement at the furnaces. The baron did not recognize this love. The baron's daughter and the young servant drowned themselves in the lake. So the baron ordered to drain up the lake and promised that in a few years instead of the lake there would be a huge rose garden." At the moment Oleri bog is a nature reserve with a rich biodiversity, cranberries and crane nesting sites.

The new centre of the manor was built around 1780 in the early classical style with brick buildings, placed around the parade courtyard. Opposite the entrance way there was the Master house with a mansard roof, on both sides of the courtyard, facing each other there was the barn and the house of the manager. Behind the Master house, towards the lake there was created a garden and park. In the Master house the interior decoration consisted of the wall paintings characteristic for the early classicism. They were arranged in frame panel system with medallions, scenes, garlands and overdoors above the doors. The most unique was the so-called "picture gallery" - on the walls there were painted illusionary paintings in frames.

The wall paintings of Oleri Manor are listed among the National Protected Cultural Monuments, with the entry number 4506.

A continuation of the richly decorated interior is the surrounding landscape, in which creation, as well as in almost all cases, the landlords followed the European fashion.

The park or garden of Oleri Manor is not large - it covers an area, excluding the complex buildings and the parade courtyard, of only 8 hectares. It is modelled in compliance with the principle of landscape gardening. With the assistance of perspectives going beyond the garden, siding alleys, vacant forest trails, a place to view Oleri bog (originally - the lake) and the former manor graves, visually and emotionally the volumes of the historic landscape territories are significantly increased.

Opposite the wooden veranda of the Master house of the late 19th century there is located the central glade of the garden, surrounded by the plantation of hazels and deutzias planted with larch, oak and linden groups, among which in some places there is a distant view across Oleri lake (see the attached hereto photo dated 1912). At the moment it ends with Oleri bog reserve naturally overgrown with black alder swamp, in the summer solstice enriched with blooming Calla palustris. The central glade is very light, where in the daily rhythm there alternate flexible shadow plays of the groups of trees, through which there leads a stable circular walking track. The track overlooks the view perspectives with a variety of landscapes complemented with a decorative vegetable garden, the swings made in compliance with the sample albums of the 19th century and gazebo and ponds. A couple of small flower beds enrich the historic rose plants, digitalis, columbines and Dianthus barbatus. The garden is wrapped in the phlox, Ptelea trifoliata, honeysuckle, lilac, deutzia and garden rose scent. The landscape garden in Oleri is being created and maintained following the traditions of the late 19th century and the plant selection appropriate for the period. The tonal harmony of the nuanced green shades in the Manor garden, the chiaroscuro game and the scent of carefully selected flowering shrubs subtly shifts to the surrounding landscape and countryside views. The garden is a place to escape from the daily rush.

In the southern part of the Master house in the early 20th century there was constructed an open stone veranda with a terrace made on a gentle slope. Walking from the terrace along the track southwards, crossing a romantic bridge one can get to a forest trail. The trail is surrounded by naturally formed forest, where among the fir trees there are present lindens and spruces. The mood is emotionally enriched by the Japanese garden under development at the moment and distant bog views.

Northwards off Oleri Manor in 1872 baron Woldemar von Krüdener established a family grave site. Oak alleys, a cross-shaped stone and an enclosed site area are witnesses of the memorial site. Woldemar von Krüdener is also the last of the Krüdeners, who was buried there in 1915.

Large mail and trade routes in the 18th and 19th centuries were located 3 km from the manor complex and went through Oleri village. Agriculture, cattle breeding and forestry were the principal economic activities of the manor. In the late 19th century and early 20th century the manor became a popular hunting place. In the Baltic States there were seven large flocks of hunting dogs and one of them belonged to Edgar von Krüdener in Oleri Manor.

During the Soviet era in the manor complex there was a school. Being distant from the municipal centre and economic activities of the collective farm, the manor house and its surroundings were not spoiled with degrading architecture. During the school operation from the 1920-ies by 70-ies the landscape experienced radical stylistic changes. On the sides of the central glade there were planted symmetrical lime alleys, but the building was surrounded by shaped Dasiphora fruticosa and Thuja plantations.

In the late 80-ies, along with the beginning of the Awakening, the current owners of Oleri Manor bought the complex. In addition to joinery, which is the principal activity of the owners of the building there is being developed the restoration of doors, windows and other building elements. From 2013, thinking about the enrichment of the historical landscape, there was started the sheep breeding. Continuing the garden renovation in 2004 it was decided to return to the earlier existing garden plan (as it appears on the map dated 1907) and the plantation analogues of the wooden veranda construction period of the late 19th century. There are used even the stories of the Krüdener family that in the garden of Oleri Manor the mostly planted shrub was Syringa vulgaris.

Since 1994, in "Oleri Manor" there have taken place various public cultural and educational events attended by both the neighbouring residents and also visitors from further locations. Annual chamber music concerts have contributed to the recognition of the site throughout Latvia.

The aim of the association "Oleri Manor" is to promote cultural, educational and public life activities within Vidzeme rural areas. In 2008 and 2009 it implemented a project "Understand a wooden house" to educate woodcarvers in restoration work. There is the Traditional Historical Construction Information Office arranged in the veranda, where everyone has the opportunity to receive advice on the traditional construction, building materials and work methods.

In 2010 there was arranged a lecture of Juris Zviedrans "To see a historic landscape garden", which took place within the framework of the European Heritage Days 2010 "Cultural Heritage - Contemporary Challenge". The lecturer shared his experience gained, while studying the landscape gardens in Germany, England, Finland and Latvia.

In 2013 there was organized a seminar of "Historical Parks – Unidentified Values", where the interested ones were addressed by Kristine Dreija, Lauma Lancmane and Dainuvite Bruvere. The objective of the seminar was to develop public awareness and interest in the historic landscape and park preservation and their place in the cultural and historical heritage, in order to facilitate the access to and an orderly return of the parks to everyday life.

Oleri Manor is a place that reminds us all of the age-old harmony between man and nature, of the importance of personal success and obligations, of how special is the feeling of history and roots in our turbulent time.