Palmengarten in Frankfurt: A snapshot in early May, 2013

"Open daily at 9:00AM" in case you were wondering (Jan Fahs photograph)

Few things are more cliché (think Henry James) than pointing out how sophisticated Europeans are compared to us American rubes--but surely, what American botanic garden would show a frog emerging from a pitcher plant pitcher on the back of a bus? The Germans possess a level of cool and botanical class that beggars my imagination (for one). This is a truly Chekhovian teaser for a monumental botanic garden. Palmengarten is as good as it gets. And of course, my camera battery gave out and I had no backups, so you must endure Jan Fahs' much better pictures than mine (I'd be showing mug shots of a ton of obscure rarities, while Jan clicked the essence, my sweetheart!). This is a snapshot in early spring: imagine the kaleidoscopic changes through the season! Enjoy...

Aesculus hippocastanum (Jan Fahs photograph)
Jan managed a few mug shots as well: like this elegant horse chestnut:  I saw no evidence yet at Frankfurt of bleeding canker, Pseudomonas syringae pv. aesculi a dread bacterium that is affecting the genus throughout Europe. I sincerely hope they can control or at least contain it before it spreads hither.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
A sweet vignette in one of the woodland gardens: we were there at prime time for the early spring display--and there were goodies blooming everywhere in wonderful drifts--the naturalistic style has really been perfected by the Germans. I
(Jan Fahs photograph)
The wonderful blend of foliage textures in this pictrure almost obscures the flowering gems contained therin as well...
(Jan Fahs photograph)
Of course, there must be interesting birds at a bortanical garden as well: notice the dandelion seedheads? German gardens are remarkably weedfree--but I noticed dandelions everywhere in all the gardens: I think they like them. Perhaps we are fighting the wrong battle in trying to eliminate these? Or as Georg Uebelhart told Jan when she pointed one out in his garden (with a twinkle in his eye) "That's a double form"...

(Jan Fahs photograph)

And a few hoary sculptures are apropos.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
The pelargonium collection had just been laid out for the summer outdoor display--neatly labeled of course...
(Jan Fahs photograph)
I would have loved to see this in full bloom a few weeks later...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
A trough display featuring South African plants outside of one of the alpine house complex: what delightful stone pathwork? Everything was so crisp and elegant and the artistry was always wed with science--and this was the more "popular" of the twin botanical gardens (the former University botanic garden next door has been combined with Palmengarten under one management--but still retains a more academic focus.)
(Jan Fahs photograph)
Jan was getting a tad artsy with this shot....

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Palmengarten is so dang big they have a frickin' TRAIN to drive people around...sheesh.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
One can never have enough random stone mossy lions on pedestals...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
A bit of production tucked behind a staged exhibit--almost as trim as the exhibit itself...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
A shot of our host, Sven Nürnberger, a dynamic, extremely knowledgeable and very youthful horticulturist at the Garden. We were lucky to have a few hours of his time showing us around.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Here am I along with Sven oogling all the gems in one of the amazing alpine houses!

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Another view of some awesome Mediterraneans in the cool glasshouse...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Not reliably hardy for us in Denver, this Erodium reichardii is such a gem, it's worth an effort (or a cool greenhouse) to enjoy it's endless display of color.
(Jan Fahs photograph)
Elegant island plantings...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
The prairie garden makes a wonderful contrast to trim grass on the right...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Neglected to note the species of Dryopteris--Jan was obviously entranced and has two great shots...
(Jan Fahs photograph)

(Jan Fahs photograph)
I believe this was a greenhouse demonstrating an ancient flora--I believe Gondwanaland-- (Subarctic house?)--love the stumpery effect...

(Jan Fahs photograph)

(Jan Fahs photograph)
This undoubtedly explains it all!

(Jan Fahs photograph)
More of Gondwanaland...
(Jan Fahs photograph)
I saw several German botanic gardens with wonderfully revegetated North American prairies--Frankfurt's was one of the best. The Germans do eco-gardening better than anyone.
(Jan Fahs photograph)
Another glimpse of the Teutonic naturalistic gardening--which they do superbly...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Anemone sylvestris--a classic plant for us as well. I'm amazed not to see this vigorous spreader in so few gardens.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
The Eurasian complement to the North American prairie gardens: one of my innovations in Denver was to attempt to do this sort of thing as well, so you can imagine I was interested!                                                                   
(Jan Fahs photograph)
I love meadows--and Frankfurt does them superbly.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Beautiful vistas, with fountains summoning in the distance (as in one of my favorite books, Pale Fire)
(Jan Fahs photograph)
Surprised to find waterlilies blooming already--they must have had a head start. What other plant is so irresistibly photogenic?

(Jan Fahs photograph)
The garden goes On and On...you need that tram ride after a while...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Lovely arbors, ponds, edgings...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Mixed bulb and annual plantings--common in Germany, rare in Colorado.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Some things hardly need a caption... Europe is so dang picturesque!

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Bedding with ferns--never seen this one before done so well...


(Jan Fahs photograph)

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Sven Nürnberger again, showing us the treasures in the recently re-worked Asian garden--a wonderful, mostly woodland swale with large drifts of all manner of rarities he'd designed.


(Jan Fahs photograph)
Labeling is inconspicuous, but ubiquitous and extensive in data.


Another example of the same...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Wonderful combinations among the Asiatics...
(Jan Fahs photograph)
More foliage combos...
(Jan Fahs photograph)
Must be a Fothergilla--don't remember this (Jan was off on her own part of the time)...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Primula cortusoides or saxatilis in peak bloom.
(Jan Fahs photograph)
Unraveling croziers on a Polystichum in early May: aaaaaah.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Rocky shady bed...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
The lawns are often nearly meadows--a lovely effect...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
A lovely naked lady at the edge of the woods--garden sculpture done right is a delight...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
The Dove tree in full bloom--always a highlight of a garden visit...

This one has a bit of history...

(Jan Fahs photograph)

(Jan Fahs photograph)

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Can you tell I like Davidia? And Jan too?

(Jan Fahs photograph)
More enchanting misty vistas...                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
(Jan Fahs photograph)
More vistas

(Jan Fahs photograph)
A German-American botanist who was staging a large geo-botanical exhibit and joined us for the tour...embarrassed I forgot his name--can someone remind me?
(Jan Fahs photograph)
The exhibit half up: I would have loved to see this finished.
(Jan Fahs photograph)

(Jan Fahs photograph)
More paths, more ponds...


More misty views...


I can't believe I've flown into Frankfurt a dozen times over the years and missed the chance to see this extraordinary garden through the seasons. You can bet your petuty I'll never miss it again! (I hope I spelled petuty right...)


A graceful woodland...


The magnificent, immense rock garden, undergoing a major renovation under Sven's baton. This was exciting!

(Jan Fahs photograph)
The rock garden...(always the best spots in any botanic garden in my humble opinion...)

(Jan Fahs photograph)
They have trouble with bozos wandering off paths too--in two languages!

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Is there anything lovelier than fruit trees blooming on a misty spring day?

(Jan Fahs photograph)

(Jan Fahs photograph)
On and on..

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Bluebells (I have a hard time giving in to Hyacinthoides non-scripta from Scilla)...
(Jan Fahs photograph)
A rhododendron--possibly augustinii--that lilac blue is so electric in that light....I hope you appreciate my alliteratility.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
I'd give at least one eye-tooth for a patch of Adiantum pedatum like this...or at least a wisdom tooth.

(Jan Fahs photograph)

(Jan Fahs photograph)

A lovely patch of Hyacinthoides in white...

(Jan Fahs photograph)
I don't think I was boasting about the fish I'd caught...

(Jan Fahs photograph)

(Jan Fahs photograph)
The rhododendron dale...in fine fettle.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Wish we could get away with these Mediterranean Euphorbs--every few years the winter gets them.

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Don't recall the species of abies--looks Mediterranean I think...(cephalonica?) Love those strobili!

(Jan Fahs photograph)
Sven and another horticulturist whose name I neglected to write down--genuinely proud of their work.
(Jan Fahs photograph)
Grrrr. I'm jealous! Either characias or var. wulfenii...obviously happy there.

Pathways are endlessly variable and elegant (Photo by Jan Fahs)

Enchanted vistas in the mist (photo Jan Fahs)

They probably wouldn't be as thrilled with the snail--but it was cute in a way...         (Jan Fahs photo)

More misty vistas (Jan Fahs photo)

A

We must have a thousand Pulsatilla vulgaris pix (Jan Fahs photo)

Aquilegia sp. (Jan Fahs photo)

Polygonatum odoratum (Jan Fahs photo)


Jah Fahs photo (this doesn't need a caption obviously)


Even the benches are elegant and novel (Jan Fahs photo)

Mildly provocative...(Jan Fahs photo)

Pruming is restorative, Pollarding is work--rarely seen in America.



Would we had crepe myrtles this big to pollard! (Jan Fahs photo)

Lots of visitors: Germans love their gardens


The greenhouses were vast, extensive and superb.













Even workspaces are trim, orderly and interesting

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We then went across the street to the OTHER Botanic Garden--once part of the University, but now combined with Palmengarten (but still kept distinct)--one organized along ecological principles, with many gardens meant to recreate German and other European ecosystems. Many visitors might be underwhelmed with the unrelenting naturalism, but for me this was an epiphany. These two botanic gardens combined are on a par (or more) with any on Planet Earth: it was a revelation! You can deduce the ecosystems by looking at them...enough comments from the peanut gallery (me)...






















If you scroll up among these thousands of pictures (or so it seems), you will see the map of the Palmengarten--here's the map of its naturalistic twin next door: how many cities on earth have two great botanic gardens--one more popular and municipal, the other a masterpiece of naturalism with an academic bent--next to one another? Frankfurt is a lucky place indeed for horticulturists and botanists both!




(Jan Fahs photograph)



The greenhouse with South African plants in island beds: doesn't look like much from this angle, but I could have spent half the day there on my knees--treasure heaped on treasure...

I have had many magical days in botanic gardens in my day: the late afternoon I spent at Savill Gardens in April with Magnolia campbellii petals floating down in the golden afternoon light onto meadows full of Narcissus cantabricus. Gothenburg--any time, any day. Wisley and Kew any time any day. The dozen or so occasions I've visited RBG Edinburgh, or the brash, blushful sunny day at Wurzburg, or the misty light of Branklyn blazing with Meconopsis. Frankfurt is an equal to any of these and with a special touch--because they seem to do everything: tropicals, desert plants, alpines, rhodies, Woodlands and naturalism as good or better than any. I can't wait to get back--and I'd put it on your short list!

Comments

  1. Thank you for posting so many photos of these trips! For those of us who can only dream of going, more is better. I love the island plantings of alpines with boulders. It's giving me ideas.

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  2. Hi Panayoti, as usual a fantastic post !! I have a question , does the DBG ever sponsor group trips to Europe ?? I think that would be brilliant !!

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  3. So ... that is what a botanic garden is suppose to look like. Do they do anything with conservation?

    James

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  4. I believe that German--indeed all European--botanic gardens have a strong conservation focus. They have amassed enormous collections of plants, many of which are endangered or extinct in the wild now. They have frequent conferences to coordinate collections and make sure there are backups, and target collection expeditions (and outreach efforts in other countries) to maximize biodiversity. I fear we could learn much from them here...

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  5. Marvellous, marvellous, marvellous.
    And, oh yah, the correct spelling is "patootie". LOL!

    ReplyDelete

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