The park and gardens at Schloss Berge (Gelsenkirchen) offer interesting perspectives. Portals formed by trees frame and reveal new scenes. High beechwood hedges flank the way into a labyrinth. Staggered arrangements emphasize distances. The area around the former castle is divided into three sections: the French garden with its geometrical flower borders and allegorical sculptures was created during the late baroque period, whereas the widespread English landscape garden was added during the 18th century. Between the two lies a labyrinth, which encloses a lavishly laid out herb garden with espalier fruit trees and plenty of healing herbs.
Fellow photographer Anna Krajewski guided me through this wonderful park, while walking her English bulldog. Mist veiled the nature and buildings and provided a chill and relaxed atmosphere. And so the three of us enjoyed the cool day, after an eventful Walpurgis night…
The first garden at Schloss Berge was created around 1700, in the South of the former mansion. The garden was arranged in the fashion of the time and following the example of French baroque gardens, which are defined by a central visual axis, oblong separated spaces with geometrical flower borders and paths, accompanied by allegorical sculptures depicting scenes and figures from Greek and Roman myth. The message is that of rationalism: the garden is man-made and at distance to a wild untamed nature. These meticulously arranged gardens were high-maintenance and demanded hundreds or even thousands of caretakers. They represented perfection, but ultimately were too fragile. Soon a new trend, from England took over…
The French garden at Schloss Berge was restored during the 1920ies. During the Nazi regime, part of the buildings were torn down and the central flower bed depicted a swastika. The castle was restored after WWII and again in 2004, now housing a hotel and restaurant. During our visit the flower borders at the entrance showed a not-so-subtle FC Schalke 04 theme in blue and white, whereas the central circular bed now depicts the city coat of arms of Gelsenkirchen.
My main interest though was in the trees and shrubs enclosing the French garden, which appeared almost romantic and created wonderful green-in-green contrasts.
The herb garden is part of the French garden and was also restored during the 1920ies. The oblong garden space is enclosed between beechwood hedges and geometrically arranged around a central fruit tree and low pruned fig. Espalier fruit with mossy stems, boxwood and hop form additional spacers between the paths and herb beds. I counted dozens of different kitchen and healing herbs, almost all of which I also include in my seed boxes. 🙂 I was especially thrilled about the old rue plants, which had developed thick wooden stems. I knew rue (and other herbs such as lavender or mugwort) can do this, but from these one could have made wands! The patch of flowering lily of the valley was lovely too. I overall enjoyed the angles and staggered arrangement of low herb beds, beechwood borders and large individual trees in the distance.
In 1790 the owner of Schloss Berge raised to earldom. The former mansion was enlarged and turned into a castle in the style of early neo-classicism. Along with this the park was also expanded towards the West with an English landscape garden.
Seemingly random arrangements of trees and wild plants create scenic settings. A small bridge crosses a hidden channel, which forms the seamless border between garden and forest area. High trees in deepening green reflect on the dark water’s surface. An opening of fresh green male fern contrasts dark yew trees. Wild flowering arums with spotted leaves peek out of the ground and white hawthorn blossoms announce the beginning of May.
Schloss Berge is surrounded by a number of natural and artificial lakes. Visitors can enjoy themselves in one of the beer gardens, rent a pedal boat or simply enjoy a walk through the adjoining nature.