As I was reading the news online the other week, a story caught my eye. Apparently there is a forest overlooking the Bay Lough in Ireland’s Knockmealdowns Mountains that has rhododendrons growing so densely on it that a couple got lost and had to be rescued. The BBC reports that the rescue operation took five hours! If you’re looking for a place to visit and enjoy some rhododendrons without needing emergency supplies and a preplanned evacuation route, you might want to make a visit to Rhododendron-Park Bremen (site in German only) in northwestern Germany. It’s definitely on my must see list.
Native to Asia, specifically in the Himalayas, rhododendrons and azaleas, a sub-group of the plant, are a flowering evergreen in the heath family. In northern parts of the world where the winters can be dull and sometimes rather white, the green rhododendrons can be a welcome sight and a promise of what Mother Nature has in store in a number of weeks. It isn’t until spring and summer roll around that the plants really show off what they can do. Bright, colorful flowers come into bloom. They’re often in different shades of pinks and purples but can also be white, depending on the variety. Azaleas, their more dainty leafed relative, are a favorite of bees.
The Rhododendron-Park Bremen is special. It was originally founded in 1905 by Ernst Franz Schütte. History and time have done as history and time do, and the park has had changes in location and ownership over the years. Set on 46 hectares (that is over 113 acres), it is home to the largest collection in the world of the flowering plant as well as a botanical garden and a nature center. The features include a densely planted rhododendron forest (no escape route needed, I’m assuming) as well as the much promised rhododendron park curated with more than 2000 different varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas.
The botanical garden at the Rhododendron-Park Bremen offer more beautiful plants to enjoy, including bonsai trees, roses and an exhibition of Asian plants.
botanika – Das Grüne Science Center
Deliusweg 40 | 28359 Bremen
Telefon: 0049-(0)421 – 427 066 65
Photo courtesy BTZ Bremer Touristik-Zentrale.