The Garden's outdoor displays
A wide path leads from the main entrance to the glasshouse complex and the ornamental courtyard. In spring, the lawns to the left come to life with a multitude of colourful tulips. During summer, the area is home to various sclerophyllous plants from Mediterranean climate regions. There is a path leading off between the lawns to the "Winterhalle", where special themed exhibitions take place regularly during the summer months.
The formal displays of the ornamental courtyard may be admired in the low-lying area in front of the buildings of the Botanical Institute. Looking south, the view opens up to the grand staircase and the café. You will find a ramp for wheelchair access next to the grand staircase.
The Botanical Institute in spring
The two square planting bed areas are separated by the water lily pool, its corners marked by four impressive Gunnera. Dry stone walls studded with cushion plants and dwarf shrubs form a pleasant enclosure. A quite remarkable collection of tree peonies grows in the north-easternmost part, immediately in front of the dry stone walls.
Late summer colours in the ornamental courtyard
The seasonal changes are particularly noticeable in the ornamental courtyard. After the spring flowers have finished the area is replanted. Later the full colours of summer are replaced by the glorious blooms of dahlias and magnificent asters in late summer and early autumn.
The garden provides not only 78 bee species a refuge. Information on many other insects can be found on the info boards.
The Spring Garden
In January, the witch hazel starts the season and adorns the gradually rising
terraced path to the east of the ornamental courtyard and the Garden Café.
Bulbs and tubers sprouting between other early flowering shrubs, such as the
highly scented viburnums, make this part of the Garden one of the most visited
At that time rare species of wild tulips, irises and narcissi flower everywhere. In March the meadows close-by are covered with the lilac flowers of Crocus tommasinianus.
Autumn crocuses (Colchicum autumnale) in the Spring Garden, opposite the Ernst-von-Siemens-House
The Alpine House, now Ernst-von-Siemens-House, is situated along the so-called "Frühlingsweg", the path featuring the best displays in spring. Behind its large panoramic windows very rare cultivars from the alpine regions of the world are on view. Starting in January when the days get longer, one after the other the spring flowering plants from the Mediterranean regions begin their lovely flower displays. By May flowers abound.
Ecology and Genetics Section
The part between the Café and the ornamental courtyard is dedicated to ecology and genetics. There is a bed with arable weeds that used to grow among annual crops before the widespread use of chemicals. Famous experiments from plant genetics are illustrated with the plants originally used in them.
Large terracotta vase surrounded by roses
Aquatic and bog plants are kept in special raised basins that are organised around two small greenhouses with carnivorous plants.
Small greenhouse housing carnivorous plants
Flowers of Pitcher plants (Sarracenia) and the Venus Flytrap (Dionaea) in June
Two pergolas at either side of this area support a wide variety of climbers (e.g. kiwis) from very different plant families.
Peonies and Irises
Following on from the Alpine House, the south-eastern part of the Garden houses our collection of peonies and irises, flowering almost simultaneously in early summer.
A large area to the west of the ornamental courtyard is taken up by the arboretum, our collection of woody plants from around the world. Here, planted in colourful meadows, groups of trees and shrubs grow loosely arranged according to their family association. From an area with massive beeches, wild and cultivated fruit trees and magnolias producing huge flowers, you may wander to our extensive collection of coniferous shrubs and trees.
Arboretum in April
Certain parts of the large meadows in the Garden are left to grow naturally and thus will flower gloriously. In summer, changing sculpture exhibitions are suitably arranged, true to the theme "Culture meets nature in the Botanical Garden".
Wild garlic (Allium ursinum) in May
Native plants of Bavaria
The south-west border of the Garden is formed by a group of trees with thick
undergrowth, an example of the "Lohwald", the riparian forest on the outskirts
of Munich. The oak, the common hornbeam and many colourful spring-flowering
plants like the Turk's Cap Lily, anemones and liverwort are part of this
environment. This vegetation used to be typical for the Munich area but has
now almost disappeared.
This type of vegetation is commonly found on the Munich gravel plain, a steppe with drought-tolerant plants forming a colourful mosaic of plant communities in summer.
The Large Pond, the Marsh and Heather Gardens
In the west, the large pond ends in a littoral zone. A number of marshy pools with an abundance of lush aquatic and bog plants follow on.
Frog on Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)
In May, the frogs get noisy. (Small ramps have been installed for the frogs at the edge of the water lily pool in the ornamental courtyard.) Various water birds populate the area around the large pond. In the morning, they also wander onto the paths and adjacent areas. Sometimes even a perky terrapin can be seen at the pond's edge.
A great biosphere for dragonflies, fishes, amphibians and water birds.
Lotus plants (Nelumbo) also thrive outside the greenhouse. However, the rhizomes must not get ice-bound in winter.
Walking on, the marsh area changes into a heather garden with its characteristic ground-cover heathers interspersed with upright junipers and brooms.
The Rock Garden
To the west of the arboretum rises the Rock Garden offering a splendid view onto the large pond. There, alpines from around the world are arranged according to their geographic habitats. The best months to view their pretty flower displays is June. The narrow, winding paths lead through scree areas covered with many-coloured blooms and rocks overgrown with cushion plants. The central part with its silicate rocks is home to some specialist plants.
The Rock Garden is home to a great floral biodiversity.
The Rose Garden
Behind the café lies the rose garden where Old Roses with their incomparable fragrance and Modern Roses with their abundance of flowers and magnificent colours give you an impression of the many different species of this plant group.
Rhododendron Grove and Fern Gorge
The path from the café to the Nymphenburg palace gardens leads to the rhododendron grove. In May over 200 species and varieties start their magnificent flower festival and are the main attraction at this time of the year.
Flowering rhododendron in May
The tall pines provide light shade in this area of which pastel-coloured astilbes take advantage adding more interest. Great care is taken to protect the soil from the detrimental influence of the chalky bedrock of the area to ensure the best possible growing conditions for the rhododendrons.
Idyllic fern gorge in April
Towards the west, the rhododendron grove gradually merges into the shady and always pleasantly cool fern gorge where a small brook follows its course. A fascinating place with its mosaic of greens and strangely shaped foliage. The brook burbles on through a Japanese spring garden to the pond.
Next to the domesticated plants section there is a small area dedicated to the
endangered plants of Germany. Since these species thrive in a variety of habitats,
bodies of water, dry grassland, alpine scree areas and shady hedges have been
arranged close to each other.
The early flowering Daphne starts the season in January, followed in March by Slipper Orchids and Turk's Cap Lilies in the shady areas. On the rocky gneiss beds grows the Sempervivum and the Dryas spreads to form large colonies. Soon the summer sun will warm the small pond encouraging the flowers and foliage of water lily and Nuphar. In Germany, over 200 plant species are on the endangered plants list. Only through studying these plants will we be able to really protect them from extinction.
Further to the south, economic and medicinal plants are cultivated in the formal and strictly symmetrical setting of an old herb garden. Many varieties of crop plants as well as exotic economic plants grow here within a very restricted space and arranged according to their use.
A separate area has been allocated to ancient grains, which are of interest again today. In July, the beds fill up with an abundance of cucumbers and pumpkins, while the asparagus has already run to seed. The pleasing aroma of various spices drifts over the central square where you can rest on a bench in the privacy of a Hornbeam hedge. Many domesticated plants are marked with a tablet explaining the origin, its cultivation and its use, as well as giving some details of the intended breeding results.
The south-east corner of the Botanical Garden is dedicated to systematic botany. Approximately 1,600 plant species, which can be cultivated outdoors, have been planted in a concentric layout and according to their plant families and to other higher taxonomic order. The most ancient flowering plant families are in the centre, whereas the most advanced and most specialised groups of cultivars have been put on the periphery. A quaint pavilion decorated with Art Nouveau ornaments and looking out onto four magnolia trees is the heart of this section.
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