400 Years of Garden History
On the ancient agricultural land which is now home of Bonn Botanic Gardens at Poppelsdorf Palace, there used to be a medieval moated castle, owned by the Archbishop of Cologne from around 1340. Around 1650, the castle was surrounded by magnificent renaissance gardens and conservatories. The more recent baroque garden, unchanged in its basic structure to this day, was constructed around 1720. The rococo palace of ‘Clemensruh’ was completed in 1746 by the Archbishop Clemens August.
When the University of Bonn was founded in 1818, the first director, Dr Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck, turned the gardens’ focus towards scientific aims. Nees described more than 5,200 plant species from tropical areas throughout the world: Goethea cauliflora reminds us that he maintained a close relationship with the famous poet; some more species described by Nees are the well-known gloxinias (Sinningia speciosa) and the giant bamboos (Dendrocalamus).
Important scientists like Sir Dietrich Brandis, F. A. Körnicke, M. Koernicke, J. W. Pfeffer, J. von Sachs, A. W. F. Schimper and E. von Regel worked in Poppelsdorf. Under the directorship of E. Strasburger, around the turn of the last century, Bonn owned one of the most important gardens in Prussia, second only to Berlin. The garden paths (see plan) remind us of some famous personalities who are part of its history.
The first world war had no direct impact on the gardens; in 1945, however, there was nothing but ruins. The reconstruction was not finished until 1979-1984, when the building of two conservatories was completed.
The history of the Economic Plant Garden at Katzenburgweg is closely linked to the University’s Agricultural Faculty, founded in 1847 as the ‘Royal Higher Agricultural Academy at Poppelsdorf near Bonn’.
In 2002, the two botanic gardens of Bonn University, the agricultural-botanic garden (now the Economic Plant Garden at Katzenburgweg) and the Botanic Garden (now Botanic Garden at Poppelsdorf Palace) were joined under one administration.