Germany’s highlight: Klostermühle Herb Gardens

Germany’s highlight: Klostermühle Herb Gardens

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

 

Edenkoben, one of many charming villages along the German Wine Route, is home to the former summer residence of Bavarian kings, a chairlift up the Rietburg mountain and a remarkable garden re-established where Cistercian sisters once tended beautiful gardens.

Amongst a sea of healing, fragrant herbs, one, in particular, stands out. Some 45 varieties of lavender thrive in this corner of Germany where the climate approximates that of the Mediterranean.

The medieval cloister

The touristic route known as the German Wine Road winds through the southeast corner of the Rhineland-Palatinate. This breathtakingly beautiful area of quaint villages, rolling vineyards and steep hills aspiring to be mountains is known for its mild climate, early spring and flora one would expect to encounter at more southerly latitudes.

The inhabitants of the town of Edenkoben, just a few miles south of Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, have long recognized they’re on to a good thing. Smitten by the surroundings, King Ludwig I ordered the Villa Ludwigshöhe Palace be built as the summer residence of the Bavarian kings between 1846 and 1852.

Long before that, at the height of the Middle Ages, Cistercian monks from a nearby village built a convent here for their sisters of the same order. On land bestowed by the Counts of Leiningen, and with the blessing of the Bishop of Speyer, a cloister by the name of Heilsbruck, or “Bridge to Salvation,” was completed here in 1262. The cloister thrived and became a center of spiritual, social and economic development in the region. In addition to their devotions, the sisters provided food and drink to the poor, tended to the sick, grew crops, milled flour and made wine.

A garden reborn

On the very grounds where the sisters grew their healing plants and sustaining crops so many centuries ago, life has been breathed back into the soil. Through the vision of Klaus Schlosser, a trained master gardener long fascinated by herbs and with a passion for Provence, the Klostermühle Herb Gardens took root here in 2006. In this quiet corner of paradise, Schlosser’s devotion to the principles of organic farming, sustainability, self-sufficiency, a healthy diet and life in harmony with nature are on full display.

The Klostermühle Herb Gardens invite visitors to explore its colorful and fragrant world of plants, sprawling across seven thematic areas: a vegetable garden, spices and herbs for the kitchen, medicinal plants, fragrant herbs, fruits and berries, ornamental herbs and Mediterranean plants grown in a greenhouse. Many features of the ancient cloister were integrated into the design of the contemporary garden, making a meander through its heady-scented rows a bridge between past and present.

Lavender to go

The farm store on-site sells products made from the bounty that surrounds it, including a variety of lavender-based products from candles to scented pillows, cologne, soaps, syrups and essential oils distilled on the farm. The shop also offers dried herbs, teas and living plants. An hour-long guided tour through the gardens is offered (in German) on Fridays at 3:30 p.m. A garden café serves drinks and light fare, incorporating ingredients grown amidst all the wonderful scenery. A glass of chilled lemon verbena lemonade goes down smoothly on a hot summer’s day.

The garden is a popular stop throughout the warm months of the year, but never more so than in June and July, when its annual Lavender Fest takes place.

Kräutergarten Klostermühle is located at Klosterstraße 171, 67480 Edenkoben. The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays, April through October.

https://kraeutergarten-klostermuehle.de

 

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