Dennenlohe. Rhododendron Garden

Last Updated on 06/04/2023

Germany has magnificent botanical gardens. And many of the front gardens delight the eye with their continuous flowering. But the garden as an art is a rare phenomenon here. Garden exhibitions (BuGa), which are supposed to show garden art, demonstrate much more gardening here. And there are certainly few large picturesque gardens.

One such phenomenon is the garden of Dennenlohe Palace.

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How to get to Dennenlohe Park

The village where the castle is located is about ten kilometers from the Altmühlsee (not far from Nuremberg). With public transport you can come by bus from Gunzenhausen train station on working days.

Dennenlohe Park

The owner of the castle, Baron Süskind, has been working at the garden since 1990. It seems that he literally planted a huge territory with his own hands, since during our walk we saw him repeatedly hurrying in different parts of the park with tools, talking on the phone or leading a guided tour.

The high season for this park is May and possibly the first half of June.

Until the park is completely finished, if I were the owner, I would lower the price of tickets in other months so that there are no negative reviews on the internet. Because if a person pays 12 euros and does not see the flowers, he will angrily write “there is nothing to see”. And if someone pays 6-7 euros, they will write about “a good park, a great walk, although there are not so many flowers”.

The park is very big. It is divided into several parts:

  • the palace and its private garden, which is only open on certain days (mainly Sundays),
  • Rhododendron garden,
  • Landscape park.

There is a oldtimer museum in the palace. But we didn’t get to it – the walk in the park lasts for several hours. Hopefully we’ll be back in a couple of years to see how the park develops. And at the same time we’ll check out the oldtimers.

Don’t worry if you don’t get to the park on the day the private garden is open. There is nothing special about with the exception of one wonderful view.

Let’s start now from the beginning, i.e. from the entrance.

Entrance and private garden

The main entrance is in the middle of the park: if you go to the right, you will enter the palace’s private garden. If you go straight you will come to the rhododendron garden. If you go to the left, you are in the landscape park. We went counter clockwise.

Immediately in front of the entrance there are two labyrinths (the second was not yet planted).

We enter the private garden. The garden is small, neat, a bit eclectic like the whole park. Modern abstract iron sculptures and classic garden dogs and vases, like in an old Italian villa, coexist here.


Tree peony.

Pavilion next to the palace.

The palace itself is from the mid-18th century, baroque. The Süskind family has been known since the Middle Ages, but after the Napoleonic Wars, the family achieved prosperity after successfully investing. A successful businessman and banker, still the richest Swabian in history, acquired land that was then distributed among the descendants.

The lawn in front of the palace is surrounded by old trees and ends with a terrace overlooking the lake. It is used for concerts on Sundays.

The lake is long but narrow, heavily overgrown (perhaps specially planted) with reeds and water lilies.

Terrace has stairs to the water but it’s a dead end street. We return and walk through the private garden to the entrance of the rhododendron garden.

The exit has a round “door” that is closed with a metal flap on other days. This is the very special view that is well worth a visit on Sunday when the private garden is open.

Let’s get closer – as if a window opens into a wonderland.

And now Alice is in the garden, who lured her through a small door (yes, we just read Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll with the child).

Rhododendron garden

Usually rhododendrons are planted in alleys and in groups. Overgrown shrubs larger than human size and dotted with bright flowers – this is the default image.

When I looked at the map of the park and saw continuous canals and islands, I couldn’t understand where rhododendrons grow there. It turned out that practically they can grow well on water. Low bushes frame the banks, larger varieties form multicolored islands.

The picture is complemented by moisture-loving plants that hang down, grow directly on the water, interlace, bridges of various shapes, fallen trees, walkways – great impressionistic canvas.

The rhododendron garden ends at the stone bridge.

But before you go any further, it is worth taking a left before the bridge.

In such a park, it is advisable to bypass every single path: completely different perspectives and hidden treasures can open up.

We go along the stream. You can jump back and forth on the stones or just walk along the path.

Little white flowers …

… turn out to be very beautiful when you approach.

And we come to a small pond with a sand island full of frogs and snails. The frogs are croaking and there are wooden sun loungers for the audience of this concert.

We return to the lake.

Petals fall into the water adding color.

We crossed the bridge and went on.

Landscape park

There are many details like this bench: statue heads, posts…

Swinging pontoon bridge.

We’re still walking along the lake

And another bridge – very swinging. There are many bridges of different shapes.

After the bridge there are bamboo thickets.

This corner is for cacti, but there were few of them.

A gong hangs on the next bridge.

On the other side of the lake, the park will continue from 2020 – a forest with rare tree species and rhododendron plantings. But we’re going up.

There is a small watermill in this tower.

Dennenloe Lake is already outside the park.

And that part of the park wasn’t finished yet.

A piece of peat bog.

This part is called the prairie.

So we closed the circle: from here we go straight to the entrance and down to the labyrinths.

I would like to repeat this trip. I recommend everyone to visit during the season when there is such an opportunity. The incompleteness of the park is understandable – it is literally being laid out in front of our eyes, and the gardens take time and care to be in full bloom. The park rightly receives awards – the rhododendron garden is very original and just great.

We wish the owner and author of the garden that all ideas come true.

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