The grounds of Rundāle Palace ensemble amount to 85 hectares including the palace and the stables, French baroque garden, the former hunting park, orchards, the pond and canals, the foundation of the old 16th century Grotthuss’ castle, the 18th century tavern and the former servants’ house, the orangery and greenhouses, car parks…
The hunting park
Rundāle Palace was used as a summer residence and for its hunting-grounds. The initial scheme of the hunting park has been retained; it resembles a small forest, although in comparison to the 18th century, its area has decreased by approximately half. Today the grounds of the hunting park amount to 32 hectares. Just as in the 18th century, it now contains large trees; with dense shrubbery growing under their branches, it provides shelter for animals and birds. Only five radial alleys continue the layout of the parks’ regular part. In 2013, ash-trees badly affected by diseases were cut down here and a different approach to the planting of trees was taken in order for the area to resemble a park rather than a forest.
In the hunting park were buried the Russian and French soldiers who fell in action in the War of 1812.
According to the gardener Christopher Weyland’s report, in 1739, 95 pear trees, 155 apple trees, 40 plum trees and 20 cherry trees were planted in the orchards. Circa 1777, during the reign of Duke Peter of Courland, two orchards and a hop garden were added. A report from 1794 refers to apricot and peach gardens where the trees were covered with blankets of straw and moss. An extensive orchard was grown at the end of the 18th century, i. e., in Count Valerian Zubov’s time, part of which still comes into view when approaching the Palace.
The pond and canals
The Palace, the stables and the Baroque garden are encircled by a two-kilometre-long canal. A pond, with an artificial small island in the middle of it, gives a romantic atmosphere to the manor’s household complex; even wild rabbits used to live on this island in the 19th century. Now a small “rabbit’s castle” is built on the side of the pond for entertainment of tourists who go on boat rides offered here.
The orangery and greenhouses
The Duke’s greenhouse was originally situated beside the adobe wall northeast of the palace. It is planned to reconstruct it in order to nurture plants required for the garden as well as to provide winter storage for exotic, non-hardy plants. The original hot air shaft of the greenhouse heating system has been rediscovered. Another greenhouse, built in the nineteenth century, was situated northwest of the garden.
Next to the old tavern stands a small orangery which shows plants and flowers mentioned in the inventory of 1852. They were once grown by Countess Thekla Shuvalova.
In the 1760s, to the west of the Palace, the architect Severin Jensen built an orangery, which later on was converted into a gardener’s house. Today it houses the Park Department of the Rundāle Palace Museum.