Mit dem Professor in den Garten. Mit dem Garten verbundene Gegenstände und Bücher im Nachlassverzeichnis des 1766 verstorbenen Professors des Gymnasiums zu Reval (Tallinn) Heinrich Benjamin Hessler


  • Risto Paju



Garden history, 18th century Tallinn home, 18th century Tallinn library, Tallinn Secondary School


The article examines whether an 18th century man of letters in Tallinn might use (exotic plants) to design his living environment and spend his free time growing them and how he would do this. It is only possible to speculate about the answers. The inventory compiled in 1766 for the assets of Heinrich Benjamin Hessler, rector and technology professor at Tallinn Secondary School, includes many entries related to gardening, which may allude to his interest in gardening. Therefore, he has been chosen as the main character for this article.

It turns out that gardening could be the part of the life of an 18th century man of letters with a focus on both the beauty and practical aspects. Considering the fact that travelling and visiting exotic places was not an everyday occurrence, growing exotic plants helped to make one’s living environment more interesting, diverse and also fulfilled educational goals. Based on the inventory, it seems that Professor Hessler was sufficiently wealthy to spend his resources on such a luxury. In addition, gardening was a way of relaxing and provided a respite from intensive intellectual work.


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Author Biography

Risto Paju

Risto Paju has been a curator and keeper of the Collection of Ashlars at the Tallinn City Museum since 2005. His research is focused on the exhibits in the Collection of Ashlars at the City Museum, based on which he has published articles and organised exhibitions. Of the latter, the most important the permanent exposition in the Carved Stone Museum, which he curated in 2016. Paju has also dealt with researching the inventory lists of Tallinn’s 18th century citizenry.