Planning and Planting the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle
Walking the line between botanical garden and recreational attraction
Located in a mild winter zone, the city of Merano offers optimal conditions for growing exotic plants that would not normally survive north of the Alps. It is an absolutely ideal location for a botanical garden.
The grounds surrounding Trauttmansdorff Castle were used for agriculture prior to the establishment of the botanical gardens: the slopes were planted with vines or overgrown with robinia while the valley area had extensive orchards. The partly fallow agricultural land disappeared when the gardens were built. Other natural areas, however, were incorporated into the planning of the gardens: a downy oak forest, made accessible by pathways, now forms part of Landscapes of South Tyrol. This created a seamless transition from the intensively landscaped gardens into the surrounding countryside
Two special features of the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle are its hillside site and amphitheater-like shape. Elaborate terracing of the steep terrain increased the cultivatable area; it also made possible an altitude differential of more than 100 meters – a special feature that allows the garden areas to be viewed from various perspectives. The masonry was constructed out of local rocks characteristic of the area: 10% granite and 90% quartz porphyry.
Unlike many other botanical gardens, the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle (laid out in 1994) mainly presents landscape examples from around the world, together with their typical trees and shrubs. Relationships between natural vegetation, climate, location and human intrusion are considered here. More than eighty garden landscapes set off show gardens and plant collections highlighting different species, varieties and colors, as Mother Nature or breeding have created them. The botanical gardens themselves are likewise integrated harmoniously into the surrounding natural landscape.
Trauttmansdorff was the brainchild of engineer Manfred Ebner (Merano), who did the overall planning of the garden; Dr. Fred-Günther Schroeder (a professor emeritus of plant geography at the University of Göttingen) carried out the plans – together with Francesco Decembrini (Merano City Gardeners) and the scientific and practical support of the internal garden team.
International and national landscape designers and garden architects have been commissioned with the design of various garden areas – something that will continue. Submissions are checked for feasibility and adjusted to reflect the local conditions. Today, the Trauttmansdorff team develops most of the ideas for such things as design and replanting in-house. Different plants bloom at different times, an ever-changing parade of flowers: we plan the plantings meticulously in order to give the gardens a new look every week. In keeping with our Gardens in Motion slogan, we continuously renovate and expand individual garden areas.