Display houses – tropical diversity under glass
The greatest diversity of bizarre plant species can be found in the tropics, subtropics and deserts. Around 3,000 of these species are cultivated in the 2,500 m² conservatory, that was completed in 1984. A well-signposted round tour guides the visitor through the most important climatic zones represented within the glasshouses. A modern compression system makes it possible that some of the houses (for example, the Fern house) are immersed in a dense mist of pure water at irregular intervals.
At the main entrance, the tour starts in the Palm house with its large rain forest plants such as bananas and bamboos and epiphytes growing on tree branches and rocky outcrops. The Fern house accomodates tree ferns and other indigenous plants of the cool cloud forests of tropical mountains.
Carrying on through the Victoria house, we can find some tropical bog plants, but also the Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanum). The side beds are planted with flowering lianas (such as Aristolochia and Passiflora). In the large pool, the famous giant water lily (Victoria) can be seen to unfurl its large leaves with their upturned rims; the blue, pink and white flowers of water lilies (Nymphaea) complete the impression of african and asian tropical splendour.
In the Succulent house which follows, there is a display of water-retaining (= succulent) plants from the world’s deserts and semi-deserts. On the left, there are plants from the American arid zones such as cacti and agaves. On the right, however, one can find their counterparts from the old world – Aloes and Euphorbias as their most eye-catching representatives. The bizarre Welwitschia mirabilis is a relative of the conifers and comprises nothing but two ribbon-like leaves; it is native to the Namib desert. The display case at the head of the glasshouse has some ‘living stones’ (Lithops) and other diminutive succulents.
On our way out, we pass the two Orchid houses. During the winter, the Mediterranean house shelters some subtropical plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa, California and Australia. In summer, the house is empty and the plants are moved outside. They are grouped according to their origin around the conservatory.