Italy's Trautmansdorff Castle Gardens - the future of botanical gardens
Italy's most beautiful garden (2005, popular vote)
Number six on Europe’s Top Ten Gardens. (2006)
International Garden of the Year (2013 International Garden Tourism Conference, Toronto)
On our recent trip to Italy, we made plans to visit the Gardens of Trautmansdorff Castle. I had met their Strategic Marketing Director, Dr. Heike Platter, at the International Garden Tourism Conference–held in Toronto in March this year–where Trautsmandorff won the International Garden of the Year award. One of my garden tourism affiliations, Buffalo's National Garden Festival, won the Conference's Promotion of the Year Award. Other awardees came from France, Japan, Portugal, England, Australia and more.
|Marketing Director |
Heike Platter and me.
For our visit, we stayed in Verona, and made a day trip to Trautmansdorff which is in Merano, a city in northern Italy in an area called South Tyrol (Südtirol/Alto Adige), near the Austrian border (about a two-hour trip from Verona). Once there, we were actually closer to Innsbruck than we were Verona!
I do think it is a very significant botanical park. I hesitate to call it a botanical garden - it is so much more than that. Imagine if you crossed the educational aspects of a botanical garden with the entertainment value of creative gardeners of Disney World with the relaxing and recreational value of a beautifully-designed outdoor private garden (many of them!), and a kids playground. Now add in a top-flight restaurant, a sculpture-park's-worth of artists' creations, weekly concerts and socializing events, and a small-scale zoo. Now you're getting the picture. Now add in a couple Disney EPCOT-like multimedia shows. Now you have a better idea of what makes it unique in the gardening world.
|The garden experience starts |
in the parking lot. Permeable, grass-planted
paving for cars. In many areas, grape arbors
are built as sun shades over parking spots.
I really think it represents the future of botanical gardens as an educational, entertainment, and exhibition venue. At least the botanical gardens found here in the U.S. This garden is only about 12 years old - though seven years of work went into it before it even opened in 2001.
The 80 distinct garden exhibitions cover about 30 acres in a amphitheater-like setting that rises more than 300 feet from its lowest point along the side of the Tyrolean hills, walking distance from Merano's city center. Because of the unique submediterranean climate of the area, protected by the mountains of the Dolomites (the southern Alps), and almost constant sunshine, plants from around the world are comfortable here (the January average temperature is 53º). Including palm trees. Hardy palm trees can grow where planted in northern Europe (England and Scotland come to mind), but this is about the most northern part of the world where palm trees grow naturally.
These photos give you an overall picture of the park. I'll post, in the next few days, more detailed photos/commentary about the park – it is large and overwhelming. It takes a good three hours to go through it at a good pace. Five to six hours would be enough time to explore all it has to offer.
|The walk from the parking lot to the entrance starts the plantings - arbors for shade, grasses for softening edges.|
|From a distance you start to see some of the displays. The mountainside setting allows for you to "preview," or be teased by,|
the displays. That just doesn't happen in flat/level settings for parks.
|You can also get a preview of one of the two "overlooks" designed by engineers. |
These seemed like modern interpretations of Renaissance garden belvederes to me.
|The Castle itself is the centerpiece of the Gardens. The Castle contains a Tyrolean Tourism Museum, the Garden's Schlossgarten Restaurant and more.|
|The city of Merano, famous for its thermal spas (which we also took advantage of!) is only a short walk away.|
|The Gardens are divided into sections representing regions of the world. Here you see the sun gardens above the water and Terraced gardens|
|Similar view, but you can better see the Dolomites in the background and appreciate the mountainous setting of the region.|
|Just outside Trautmansdorff are the vineyards of Sudtirol - one of the oldest wine regions in Europe.|
|A complex series of ever-changing, winding, switchback paths ensure you see all areas of the park.|
|Seating for concerts to the right. The structure seen here is an artist's pavilion structure representing water lilies.|