Friday, January 24, 2014

Munich revisited: the rock garden.

Dryad among Dryas octopetala

A few weeks ago I featured the wonderful annual displays at Nymphenberg, the extraordinary botanical garden of Munich. I promised then I'd give you a glimpse of another garden there: their amazing rock garden. The was the end point of a three week extravaganza that Jan Fahs (pictured above) and I undertook from Gothenburg. We spent a magical week in Sweden, then visited a host of public gardens in Denmark, and mostly Germany, many of which I have featured. this was a trip I'd dreamed about for decades, and though the locals complained bitterly about the cold spring, by the time we got there, things warmed up and I was blown away. All the white flowers around Jan above are Dryas octopetala, the mountain dryad that I've seen all over the Northern Hemisphere--but never quite so wonderful as this!
Peonies, daphnes--all the good stuff!
Rock gardeners often regard the Royal Botanic Gardens' rock garden as the supreme example of the art in public horticulture. I revisited Botanics in late June, and they're still supreme--but just it's a bit unfair to compare the Matterhorn to Mount Blanc, Mount Evans to Mount Washington--each mountain has its forte. And Munich is as good as you will find anywhere. Perhaps it helped that it was a perfect, sunny, warm spring day--that so much was in bloom. Or that the whole trip had been exhilirating. All I can say was that the hours I spent hovering over plants at Munich will remain with me forever. I took hundreds of pictures. Mostly mug shots of plants and labels (there are countless plants new to me here)--but I am only sharing the vistas with you: they are entrancing!
Aubrieta pinardii Boissier

A large number of the plants at Munich--like those in Copenhagen--are Mediterranean wildflowers like this Turkish rock cress: staff at Munich have been collecting across much of that region, and the rock garden houses untold treasures from there. Since this is one of the focuses of my own work, you can imagine I was more than a little curious. I grow the same aubrieta--not so picturesquely, I regret!

Steep slopes covered with treasures, all meticulously labeled

Words are really superfluous when it comes to great gardens like this: these are about the romance of the hills, the dance of rock and plant, the music of the spheres. Great rock gardens occupy the same aesthetic space as Beethoven symphonies, the novels of Tolstoy or Byzantine mosaics (at least in my private cosmology): they are the highest aesthetic expression of human spirit in harmony with nature and God (you atheists can substitute the last with Evolution!). Need I say I was in paradise? Except for a few captions, the rest (to quote Hamlet) is silence.

Grand vistas all around the garden

Pathways are understated and wide

Lots of interest on all sides

Iberis semperivirens glows in early May

Every way you turn a different feel and vista

Cytisus albus

Part of a huge display of Dryas octopetala in peak bloom

The alpines blend in as they do in alpine meadows

Saxifrages, hellebores helianthemums--all the good stuff!

Visitors everywhere--studying and taking pix


Paeonia daurica ssp. coriifolia (=P. caucasica)

More aubrieta with Alyssoides graeca crowning the hill.

Even without flowers the textures are supreme

A wonderful backdrop and throngs of visitors: a botanic gardener's dream!

Paths winding everywhere. Can't get over the dang Dryas!

Areas being redeveloped--a good thing!

I find this sumptuous

The steppe meadow nearby with plants from Far Eastern Europe

Of course one must have Gentiana acaulis in a rock garden!

Rhododendron augustinii in a nearby woodland

The rock garden from across the pond--beautiful from afar

Generous spreads of plants throughout Munich's gem--these are mostly Salvia glutinosa, I think.

Back to the garden, a steep slope covered with dense mounds

More Gentiana acaulis, and ferns seeding in everywhere! They don't do that in Denver!

Another view of a central path

Jan on another corner of the garden


  1. Breath taking !! It is overwhelming !! How do you focus on just on one plant ?? . I can't wait to go there the next time I go to Germany !! Did you also go to Sachen , since you were in the Area ? Thanks... Best post ever Panayoti !!

    1. it should of been schachen ,....sorry for the mis-spelling .

    2. Schachen wouldn't be open in early May--too early. I have been to an alpine garden in Switzerland (on a cloudy day): it was wonderful. I've great things about Schachen--another day Iin June)...


Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive