In Bavaria, a land of fairytale castles, there’s a fantasy island of flowers. Mainau Island of Flowers is located on Lake Konstanz, a body of water spanning the borders of southern Germany and Switzerland. This temperate climate provides ideal growing conditions for this garden of floral beauty, fanciful creations, and unique features.
I visited Mainau gardens on a brisk sunny September day. Mainau has flowers, lots of flowers. There is a butterfly house filled with orchids, a rose garden, which was just past its prime blooming phase, but the 12,000 dahlias of 250 varieties were in full glory. I can’t grow Dahlias in my garden, so I don’t suffer from Dahlia obsession, but for those who do, this would be paradise.
It was jaw-dropping, eye-popping gorgeous. I walked about in a trance, wanting to see every variety, ruffled, pointy, star-shaped, and every size from pom-poms, and drumsticks, to dinner plates. An exploded catalog of blooming possibilities opened at eye level, and I was surrounded by perfect blooms.
Finally, I pulled myself away to see what else could be found in this magical place. The gardeners are happy to have a bit of fun with their flowers, creating floral characters like a smiling blossom that greats you at the entrance (though if you look closely at the lips, you will see a crown (more on that later) and a proud peacock planted in begonias, as well as a group of ducklings on the lawn.
That smile in the shape of a crown is a subtle hint to the royal Swedish Bernadotte family, who have owned this garden for nearly 100 years.
There is a chance to “dress” in an enormous royal gown of flowers, that’s me at the top, just under the parasol.
White Begonias planted in the shape of Lake Konstanz with the local communities placed along the shore gives a geography lesson in the best possible way.
Floral walls in bright red and green were a dividing marker guiding your walking path. Passion vines bloomed in orange, red, yellow, white, and purple blossoms. Color consumed the view with long views of the blue Lake Konstanz and puffy white clouds in the sky.
If flowers were not enough, there were features scattered throughout the island that surprise and delight. A royal family has a castle open for visitors though I couldn’t bear to go inside on such a beautiful day. I did peek into the chapel and the palm house, a grand conservatory housing tropical and exotic specimens collection.
The Italian terrace garden with a heart-shaped fountain, the vineyard, and the donkey enclosure were other surprises on my walk.
But the next best thing was the cascading waterfall surrounded by flowers.
My first view was from the base looking up the dual staircase to the bridged railing, simply enjoying the pink and yellow avalanche of flowers. I realized I must see the view from the top of the waterfall and began climbing, walking alongside daisies, zinnias, even more dahlias, Italian cypress, and small fan palms.
Once at the top, I could watch the water flowing down, look out across the lake, and simply revel in this fantasy garden.
As the day ended, we began the long walk back only to be surprised again by an allée.of dawn redwood trees extending nearly 70′ in the air. This stand of over 50 mature trees has grown into a long green walkway, gently releasing visitors across the island bridge as they leave behind the island of flowers, Mainau Gardens.
It was such a beautiful garden, on an island, in Germany, in September, on a perfect day.