Gardens of the World the Alpinum of Mt. Schachen

About the Alpinum of Mt. Schachen in the Bavarian Alps, a public garden on the top of a mountain.


A Mountaintop Garden

The Alpinum on Mt. Schachen is one of the world's smallest public gardens, barely an acre square. It's also one of the world's least accessible gardens, nestled high in the Bavarian Alps, reached only by a rough, unused road, and closed 10 months of the year because of snow. Yet thousands of visitors make the grueling five-hour trek up Mt. Schachen, part of the range which separates Austria from Germany, to admire this garden.

What draws them is the world's largest single collection of alpine flowers. Over 2,000 varieties grow here, procured with great difficulty from the Alps, the Rockies, the Pyrenees, the Caucasus, the Andes, the Himalayas, and even Antarctica. Many of the mountain flowers seen here grow nowhere else in captivity. A branch of the Munich Botanical Garden, the Alpinum opened its gates on July 13, 1901, largely through the efforts of botanist Karl von Goebels. Present gardeners spend six months a year atop the mountain.

The plants in the original garden are arranged by botanical species. Another, newer garden on the mountain provides a more natural setting by grouping the flowers by region.

The Alpinum lies at timberline, 6,070 ft. above sea level. Those persistent enough to climb to the garden will find ample rewards at the top. In good weather the garden affords a sweeping view of lush Alpine forest. Fifty yards away stands the Schachen Schloss, a mountain retreat built for the mad Bavarian King Ludwig (Louis) II. Today it is a lodge and restaurant.

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