Even in the days of the Coronavirus pandemic, Social Distancing is a foreign word in nature. Yellow lilies and purple iris bloom right next to each other. Bees pollinate Balkan cranesbills while collecting nectar, while white roses grow amidst deep blue speedwell. A walk through fields and forests or a garden or landscape parks in the Rhine-Main area is a great way to make many discoveries. Join Wolfgang Gerhardt on a foray through the local nature.
The highlight of the flower season is approaching
Most early flowering plants such as coltsfoot, wood anemone and lily of the valley, as well as tulips, daffodils and even peonies, can now only be recognized by their leaves. Many plants bloomed earlier than usual this year and also for a shorter time. In the meantime, the variety of flowers has changed; the climax of the flower season is approaching. The roses, which Johann Wolfgang von Goethe dubbed the “Queen of the Flower Kingdom,” unveil their full splendour in these days with their delicate buds, full flowers and nuanced scents.
Frankfurt’s Palmengarten offers a rich, floral panorama in the open air with wild and climbing roses, English and historical roses as well as dwarf and ostrich varieties. There are two further destinations, each just under 50 kilometres from Frankfurt, which are famous for their roses, although the widely known rose festivals at these locations will not take place again until June 2021.
Roses in Steinfurth, Eltville and more…
Steinfurth, today a district of Bad Nauheim in the Wetterau, is the oldest rose village in Germany. As early as 1868 a resident of the village founded the first rose nursery after learning to grow roses in England. Four rose gardens, four rose nurseries, and a rose museum create a rose paradise with around 100,000 rose bushes in over 3,000 varieties.
In Eltville in the Rheingau, around 22,000 rose bushes in 350 varieties enchant the town with its romantic electoral castle and the winding old town. The splendour of the blossoms is particularly evident in the moat and on the banks of the Rhine. There you will also find Japanese beds of roses, which were specially bred as an expression of the friendship between the city of Hiroshima and Eltville.
Special rose plantings can also be found in Darmstadt’s Rosenhöhe Park and in the Stadtpark Mainz. Also offering a special experience are the mostly centuries-old landscape parks in the spa districts of Bad Homburg and Bad Nauheim, around Schloss Biebrich in Wiesbaden, Jagdschloss Kranichstein near Darmstadt or Schloss Philippsruhe in Hanau.
On the northern bank of the Main in Frankfurt, nestled between the Untermainbrücke and Friedensbrücke, the so-called Nizza garden (the German name for the French city of Nice) can be found, filled with frost hardy, Mediterranean plants planted 20 years ago. The Nizza has become one of the largest public parks with Mediterranean plants north of the Alps.
Anyone who might be interested in a pharmacist’s garden should visit the former Benedictine abbey in Seligenstadt or the pharmacist’s garden in Wiesbaden. Tip during Coronavirus: please enquire about public access and open hours before a visit!
Beauty by the wayside
Equally attractive are the plants that grow in their original environment along the wayside, in meadows, fields or lighter woods. Red corn poppies, blue cornflowers or violet lupins set strong colour accents visible from afar. Often the discovery of inconspicuous flowers and blossoms is more enjoyable during a walk, such as the poison foxglove, blue and white bellflowers, yellow buttercup, Balkan, blood or forest cranesbill, larkspur or horsetail with a bush of grass fronds.
Orchids are also native to Spessart, Rhön and Taunus. In most cases, a guide in analogue form as a book or digitally as an app can help to find out which plants you can experience in your destination. With your guide handy, recreation, relaxation and the joy of colours and shapes combine with an increased knowledge of nature.
Text and photos: Wolfgang Gerhardt