Gradinile Palatului San Anton din Attard, in centrul Insulei Malta (vedeti aici) au fost cele care au inspirat-o pe Regina Maria a Romaniei sa inconjoare vila de la Balcic cu gradini similare. O parte foarte fericita a copilariei sale si-a petrecut-o in Insula Malta, asa incat imaginile de atunci nu au parasit-o niciodata si a simtit nevoia sa le reproduca intr-un anume fel. Astazi, gradina (botanica) a domeniului regal de la Balcic, aflata in administrarea statului bulgar, arata ca in fotografiile de mai jos.
In 1935, sub titlul “My dream houses“, aparea, scris de Regina Maria, un eseu in care rememora felul in care a construit si amenajat locurile ei de suflet. Alaturi de Castelul Bran, domeniul si vila de la Balcic au stat mereu pe primul loc. Redau mai jos extrasul original, in engleza (preluat de aici, cu multumiri lui Tom Kinter), din eseul aparut in Roumania Anniversary Number – edited by Horia I. Babes, The Society of Friends of Roumania, Inc., New York, 1935, modul cum a descoperit locul viitoarei asezari pe care avea sa o ridice la Balcic:
“One day, after Bran had become an accomplished dream, as I rambled with my son Nicky through Dobrudja, I suddenly came upon a spot near the sea which awoke in me a quite particular sensation: I had the feeling that this place had always been waiting for me—or was it I who had always been waiting for this place? It was not as if I had come here for the first time.
That old tree hanging above the turquoise-blue sea from the top of a high crumbling wall, beneath which flowed a spring of clear mountain water . . . Somehow this spot was familiar to me, it had something to do with the very foundation of my being; here was peace, beauty, sea and fresh water, and that huge whispering tree bending right over the shore as if listening to the song of the waves.
I sat down in the shade of the great tree and gazed out upon the light-spangled sea, watching the play of waves against the shore. A feeling of complete, almost overwhelming, well-being took possession of me—I belonged to this and this belonged to me. Now and again along the long road of life this sensation has come; it is simply the feeling of coming home, of being entirely and absolutely accepted by one’s surroundings.
Yes, I must become possessor of this spot; it needed me—I felt this with a force that could not be denied.
And verily I did acquire that spot. It would be too long to relate how; but the old tree, the old wall and the crystal-clear water flowing from beneath it into the sea became mine. Immediately the vision rose before me of the house I wanted to build . . . a white house, strong, simple of line, of Turkish style, a house whose upper story would project over the lower; a house with a flattened roof, and with its feet almost in the sea; a house surrounded by stone terraces which little by little would be conjured into a paradise of flowers.
This dream-house, too, became reality. It was to have been an artist’s caprice, a little shack to which I could escape for a few days at a time. But my love for the place grew and grew; besides, the problem of painting into its surroundings my living picture exactly as it should be was so fascinating that the artist within me could not resist. This was not merely the adaptation of something already existing; this was creation, the modeling of stone, earth, water, trees and flowers into a harmonious whole. Proceeding slowly through lean years, it was created on a small scale, modest, rustic, in no sense monumental, but perfect in its way.
There was also this about Balcic—it was my return to the sea, my first love. Born on an island, I have in my soul an eternal deep craving for the sea. Ileana has inherited this love for the sea. She belongs to Balcic and Balcic belongs to her. I cannot think of Balcic without Ileana, and it was together with her that I developed my dream.
No joy being complete unless it can be shared by others, my child and I set about creating in the villages of Bran and Balcic homes for the poor, for those whose lot is hard work in airless places. And the joy of being able to provide for them large, sunny houses was like adding light to one’s soul.“