With a panorama showcasing snow-dusted mountains and a castle that dates back to the 13th century, Merano’s botanical gardens at Trauttmansdorff Castle has an excellent canvas to work from.
Building on its natural backdrop with layers of colourful terraces that cover over 100 metres in altitude, the botanical gardens are made up of twelve hectares. Outwardly facing, the Alpine landscapes, crisp fresh air and neo-gothic architecture of the medieval castle root you firmly in the land of South Tyrol, yet look around you and you’ll see microcosms of the world.
In fact, the gardens deliberately shine a light on regions that differ hugely from its environment, making the contrast even more invigorating. Take a turn of the sunlit terraces of the Sun Garden and you’re in the Mediterranean: olive groves (including a 700-year-old Sardinian specimen), fig trees, citrus trees and a semi-desert cacti garden.
Invoke the 15th century in Italy, in Merano’s Water and Terraced Gardens where formal gardens follow the Italian Renaissance style with trimmed boxed hedges, symmetrical shrubbery and scented sensory flowers such as clematis, rose, camelias and azaleas.
Turn to the orient in the wooded region for soothing Asian-style forests of bamboo, paddy fields and redwood, and a waterfall adds a tinkling Japanese-inspired water theme. There’s even a beach area, shaded by palm trees with a couple of inviting deckchairs waiting. Go deeper and soak up the tropics in the sultry glasshouse, complete with indigenous creatures such as leaf cutter ants and desert locusts.
If your global green adventure has taken you too far from reality, spend some time in an area dedicated to showing the best of home turf. In the Landscapes of South Tyrol see how cultivated meadow orchards produce pear and apple, admire vineyards blooming with regional varieties and gaze with envy at the neat cottage garden with traditional Speltenzaun fencing and perfect rows of vegetables and medicinal plants.
And while you’re here, take a moment to admire the Trauttmansdorff Castle itself: thick medieval walls, a museum located within its beautifully restored rooms including a crypt and chapel, plus stunning Renaissance frescoes. Sometimes what’s right on your doorstep is impressive enough.