© H. Heger

Botanical Garden

The Flora of the World – collected together in one place

The “Hortus botanicus assindiensis” and the “GRUGA” form the nucleus of today’s Grugapark. The Botanical Garden was planted as early as 1927 as a teaching and experimental garden for scientific purposes. The aim was and is to arrange plants, shrubs and trees systematically and to classify them according to their characteristics. The botanical attractions include the Alpinum, the Westphalian Farmer’s Garden, the Rose Garden, the Shrubbery, the Conifer Collection, the Asia Section and the Heath Section.

Several times a year rare plant markets with unusual plants from around the world are held in and around the Orangerie, including the provision of specialist advice.

The History of the Botanical Gardens

On its foundation in 1927 the Botanical Garden was intended to be an “outdoor laboratory” for scientists, a “public education centre” and an “education centre” for schools in equal measure. A garden of this size and with such ambitious aims was then completely new in Germany – apart from university botanical gardens.

Generous benefactors and dedicated local politicians and civil servants made the ambitiously designed project possible. In fact, unemployed people had been putting it into effect since 1925 in 41,000 working days.

Alongside the scientific activities it has always been a central concern to bring the people of the city closer to the variety and wonders of nature.

Conifer Section - Between thuja and ginko

The evergreens near the Alpinum form one of the largest collections in Europe. They were originally planted in 1927 in order to investigate the effects of air polluted by industrialisation.

A completely individual, calm atmosphere is exuded by this dry, fragrant forest where, alongside native conifers, araucaria from Chile, the European thuja, ginkos and Japanese nutmeg-yews grow. In addition, there are also exotics such as the sequoia from the West coast of America, the maritime pine and the oldest cryptomeria group in North Rhine Westphalia.

The dawn redwood is a living fossil that was thought to have been extinct since the Tertiary period. Its discovery in China in the 40s was seen as sensation by experts.

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Westphalian Farmer’s Garden

An example of German garden cultural history that is well worth seeing is hidden behind a hawthorn hedge. Typical features of the Westphalian Farmer’s Garden are the meticulously cultivated edges of the beds, the pebble paths bordered with boxwood and the colourful summer flowers. The medicinal and culinary herbs are essential ingredients. The Low German names of the native vegetables have been given on signs such as “Schaffoi” (savoy cabbage) or Schloot (lettuce). South European vegetable varieties are also represented here. The garden, which was planted as early as 1925, is sheltered by large yews, the symbol of fertility.

There is a herb spiral, a compost silo, green manure plants, stone cairns where mice and weasels live and bird nesting boxes. Display boards provide useful information.

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Herb Garden

Just a few steps away from the Westphalian Farmer’s Garden is the enchanting Herb Garden with its fairy tale atmosphere, protected by a high hedge. A small pool of water transports the visitor into the medieval world of monastery gardens from which botanical gardens are thought to originate. The arrangement of the plants has been done according to how the various medicinal plants are used. These include poisonous plants that were already familiar to the doctor Paracelsus – poison is just a question of dosage.

Two terracotta vases, as high as a man, circular relief decoration and benches set in stone give the garden an idyllic atmosphere.

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Asia Section

Some of the shrubs that originate from Asia in the Grugapark are well known, such as the magnolia with its luxuriant blooms ranging in colour from white to dark pink. Some are surprising, such as the Chinese Dove or Handkerchief tree – when it blossoms at the beginning of May white leaves hang from its branches like handkerchiefs hung out to dry. A grand Japanese elm – resistant against Dutch elm disease – Asian walnut trees, different species of maple trees and hydrangea also give a varied impression of the rich plant world of the Far East.

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Above the Waldsee (forest pond), walkers feel as if they have been placed in a high mountain habitat. Gentians, Alpine violets, asters, mountain pines and Swiss pines line the way. Together with plants from the Caucasus, the Carpathians and the Apennines, they exude an aromatic, earthy smell. A very rare Taiwania can be discovered above the Alpinum, a close relative of the Japanese cedar. A waterfall rushes powerfully over three cascades towards the valley.

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Forest Valley

In late summer and autumn the Forest Valley near the Margarethensee offers the glorious sight of a magnificently colourful Indian summer, with its American sweet gums, pin oaks and bald cypresses. A valley meadow with wild herbs, wild plants and a burbling brook give the Forest Valley a romantic character.

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Garden of the Senses

People with and without disabilities can experience nature with their different senses in the Garden of the Senses. A path laid with different materials makes it easier for the visually impaired to find their way. The sense of smell is activated by strongly scented plants such as roses and herbs. Planting in high beds also makes it possible for people in wheelchairs to feel the different surface structures, such as the rough leaves of the Chinese maple or the thorny roses.

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Below the Linden Circle the extensive Shrubbery, which was planted in 1964, combines several thousand shrubs from Asia, America and Europe. The plants have been systematically arranged according to their characteristics: lupins, Delphinium, red hot pokers, American cowslip, giant rhubarb, orchid primrose, Carpathian harebell and coral bells. In the Insect Garden, with its bumble bee and hornet nesting boxes and earwig habitats, the numerous butterflies, bees and bumble bees are visible evidence that the hardy, flowering perennials have been successfully planted. In the dry river bed or wadi drought resistant Liliaceae flourish.

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Rose Garden

The Rose Garden, which was planted in 1927, is one of the best established areas of the park. The queen of flowers unfolds her fragrant splendour from June until well into December. The various roses are arranged in dense rows and climb up white archways; shrub and landscape roses, miniature and standard roses, climbing and English roses in colour shades from faint pink to a strong purple. A stony pond with water lilies contributes to the enchanting atmosphere.

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Spring Blooms

Fragrant plants, some of which bloom as early as winter, please the senses between the Rose Garden and the Rhododendron Valley: the rare, beguilingly fragrant wintersweet tree, the winter flowering honeysuckle and the witch hazel.

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Climbing Plants

The Grugapark contains Germany’s largest collection of climbing plants. Clematis, wild vines, honeysuckle, silver lace vine, climbing Hydrangea and wolfberry climb upwards on a broad meadow.

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Rhododendron Valley

The Rhododendron Valley near the Margarethensee, with its intricate paths, is like an enchanted labyrinth. The delicate pink to deep pink flowers show their full luxuriance from March to early summer. The 500 different species and cultivars of rhododendron unfold their most luscious glory from the middle of May into June.

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Mediterranean Garden

A roof construction, unique in Germany, protects the south European plant world in the Mediterraneum near the Plant Display Houses. In winter, a glass roof covers the resplendent plants such as date palms, bay laurel trees, fig trees and orange trees. The roof is removed completely from the middle of May until the end of October. Palms, angel’s trumpets, acacias und lemon trees grow here alongside an olive tree that is over one hundred years old. There are also plants from the Mediterranean flora area around the Mediterraneum. In summer the blooms of colourful pot plants turn this area into a southern oasis.

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Plant Display Houses

Between the conifers and the deciduous trees the three transparent pyramids of the Plant Display House protrude from a small hill. A particularly special journey around the world can be experienced here at any time of the year. Each of the pyramids, which appear to be floating, houses a special habitat, typical of our planet.

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Tropical Rainforest

In the pyramids of the Tropical Rainforest you will be immersed in a different, fascinating cosmos. Temperatures over 30°C, high humidity and the smell of earth and luxurious vegetation will transport the visitor into a deep jungle.

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Succulents House

Just a covered, glass walkway separates this tropical habitat from the desert areas. The warm and dry climate offers the sap storing plants, the succulents, conditions like those in the dry regions of the world. Here, bizarre types of cactus can thrive, such as the North American giant cactus, which can grow up to 15m high, and the golden barrel cactus. The large canary island spurge and the spiky leaves of the Aloe vera are reminiscent of the loneliness of the African deserts. The most spectacular inhabitant is the “Queen of the night” which unfolds the glory of its blooms for only one night.

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Cloud Mountain Forest

The third Plant Display House accommodates primeval plants from Australia and tropical South East Asia. These vegetation formations represent the areas of the world with the highest precipitation. The evergreen mountain forest can flourish luxuriantly thanks to the frequent fog. Wonderfully beautiful orchids make themselves comfortable on branches and boughs as so called epiphytes: they do not put down any roots in the ground.

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Bonsai Garden

In the courtyard of the Plant Display Houses the dainty, miniature world of that botanical peculiarity, the bonsai, contrasts with the luxurious growth and blooms in the three glass pyramids.

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Wetlands Habitat

The Wetlands Habitat near the Hundertwasser House has developed into a refuge for amphibians and damp loving plants. A copse of reeds, willows, bald cypresses and bamboos is also home to numerous birds.

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