Global Gardening at the Berlin Botanic Garden

Welcome to the first Gardens Around the Globe feature highlighting the Berlin-Dahlem Botanic Garden and Greenhouses. One day of traipsing through the 107-acre site wasn’t nearly enough.

I had the chance to visit the beautiful Botanischer Garten in Berlin, Germany, one cool and overcast September day in 2008 and practically wore myself out trying to see it all.

The garden is surprisingly expansive for being in the middle of the city. It includes more than 18,000 cultivated species of plants and turn-of-the-century greenhouses that look like churches made of shimmering glass.

This photo shows the classical pattern of an Italian garden. The greenhouse in this picture was undergoing a major restoration at the time, so I wasn’t able to tour the inside. Just another reason to plan a return visit to Berlin.

The botanic garden’s beginnings date to a 17th century kitchen and herb garden which was part of the grounds of the Berlin palace. It’s grown considerably since then and now includes plants from around the world, including marsh and aquatic plants, meadows, an aroma and touch garden, medicinal plants and 14 interconnected greenhouses, each devoted to a different kind of tropical plant.

Here’s a close-up view of Guzmania sanguinea, a colorful member of the Bromeliaceae family. Greenhouse G specializes in bromeliads of every size, shape and color. Some of the plants in the tropical greenhouses are over 150 years old.

One of the more unusual finds near the greenhouses is the final resting place of a number of people who were closely connected to the history of the garden. Three of the directors who supervised the garden from 1889 to 1958 are buried here. Georg Schweinfurth (pictured above) was a famous researcher and some of the pieces of he collected in Egypt are displayed in the museum also located on the garden site.

After viewing the greenhouses with all of their exotic tropical plants, I was delighted to turn a corner and see this little garden filled with cacti. It made me feel right at home.

Der Moosgarten is located near the entrance and features 18 different kinds of moss that can be grown between rocks or paving stones.

The rose garden was one of the highlights of my visit. Not only was it gorgeous and fragrant, but I was able to use my two years of high school German to have a short conversation with another gardener admiring the roses there. It proved to me that no matter where I might travel, the language of flowers is a common one.


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Beautiful photographs of the Berlin-Dahlem Botanischer Garten. It seemed as if I was really there seeing it all with my own eyes. Please return to Berlin and take more photographs!

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