Two must-see German gardens
There has always been something magical about a leisurely stroll through lush gardens. Be it the romantic elements of an English garden with its sweeping flowerbeds, ponds and bridges; an elegant French garden with its formal geometry; or raw nature simply left to its own wild devices in a wilderness park, the beauty of gardens speaks straight to the heart.
Maybe it’s seeing color burst forth into the world in brilliant blooms and watching trees grow heavy with thick green leaves as their branches reach for the sky. A garden leaves you with the unshakable sense that the world is full of life and merely waiting on you to come explore it. When the days grow long, the weather warm and balmy, and the air fragrant, it’s time to slow down and absorb the magical experience of a summer garden.
If you’re looking for an oasis of tranquility that leaves your soul calm for days, here are two gardens not to miss this summer.
Schwetzingen Palace Gardens
The origins of Schwetzingen Palace date back to 1350 with humble beginnings as a small, moated castle before developing into the architectural masterpiece it is today. The exotic and ornamental palace gardens began in 1749; however, as the garden was being developed – a cultural change in preferred gardening styles occurred. French formal gardens were gradually being supplanted by the English landscape garden as the prevalent style of gardening. As a result, Schwetzingen began with an initial focus on geometric symmetry and evolved styles midway through development. This unique blended French and English approach has made Schwetzingen’s elegant palace gardens incredibly unique and a cultural heritage site of European significance.
The gardens contain more than 100 sculptures, many hidden within a gorgeous hedge-lined labyrinth, making exploration a delight for adults and children alike. There are four temples dedicated to the Greek gods, a water garden and numerous fountains and bridges. Visitors are likely to get a glimpse of the garden’s swans floating serenely across ponds and waterways. Lucky visitors may even spot peacocks.
There are periodic concerts throughout the year, as well as the palace tour, which is currently closed for renovation, but expected to re-open for public tours at the end of September 2016.
Three parking garages are within easy walking distance of the gardens, as well as a number of eateries just across the street from the palace grounds at the Schlossplatz. Visitors are likely to find a farmers’ market in progress near the marketplace’s Spargelfrau bronze statue.
Luisenpark is a stunning 41,000-acre botanical garden located just blocks from the bustling downtown of Mannheim. In addition to containing the biggest Chinese teahouse in Europe, the park contains a number of wonderful attractions and activities for the whole family.
Spend the day wandering through the park’s exhibition gardens, butterfly house, aviaries, and fresh and salt water aquariums. Curving paths lead to one gorgeous exhibition garden after another, featuring an iris garden, a water lilies terrace, rhododendrons, roses and more. Bring swimsuits for the kids, as children can romp through both the water and castle playgrounds and a fountain park.
Don’t miss the giant pink pelicans near the lake. For the best view, hop aboard a gondola and cruise along a 1,830-meter-long looped course around the lake. Rest easy and simply relax because paddling is not required – the gondolas are pulled along with an underwater tow rope.
There are numerous cafés and snack stands throughout the park. For a truly unique experience, enjoy a little piece of China in Mannheim at the Chinese teahouse. Surrounded by a pond, the teahouse offers a delicious blend of teas and both savory and sweet dishes to tempt the palate.
Plenty of parking spaces line the park perimeter, making Luisenpark easy to access and enjoy.
Pack the sunscreen and prepare to make the most of summer’s long days enjoying these two stunning gardens!
Images by Kristi Adams