A princely pleasure garden with a spectacular greenhouse

Karlsruhe Botanical Gardens

Bird's-eye view of the Residential Palace and the city of Karlsruhe, copper engraving, 1739, Christian Thran. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown
PRINCES AND GARDEN DESIGN

MILESTONES

The margraves of Baden-Durlach and later Grand Dukes of Baden were known for being frugal princes however they spent great amounts of money and effort on plants and gardens. The 19th century saw the creation of an extensive scientific plant collection.

Margrave Karl Wilhelm von Baden, lithograph of the founder of Karlsruhe, circa 1820. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Margrave Karl Wilhelm, founder of Karlsruhe.

KARLSRUHE: THE MODEST COURT

In comparison to their relatives, the margraves of Baden-Baden and other princes, the Protestant Baden-Durlach princes were rather frugal. The palace complex constructed under Margrave Karl Wilhelm in 1715 still contained some sections of wood or half-timber. His grandson, Margrave Karl Friedrich, who ruled between 1746 and 1811, becoming the first Grand Duke of Baden in 1806, had a new structure built of stone. But even he was considered a frugal person.

Birds-eye view of palace and the city of Karlsruhe, close-up of copper engraving by Christian Thran. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Close-up of plans for the Residential Palace and Gardens.

FOR THE LOVE OF PLANTS

The princes of Karlsruhe always attached great importance to gardens and plant collections. This had actually already been the case at the old residence in Durlach. In his plans for the palace and the city of Karlsruhe, Karl Wilhelm established the garden culture at the new royal seat. Magnificent pleasure gardens were created around the palace. An extensive collection of exotic plants was built. Karl Wilhelm's tulip collection was especially famous.

Portrait of Margravine Karoline Luise von Baden, co-founder of the Karlsruhe Botanical Gardens. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Karoline Luise von Baden.

SCIENTIFIC COLLECTION

It was the Baroque passion for collecting and all things exotic that inspired Karl Wilhelm's plant collection. His grandson, Karl Friedrich, was inspired by the same. Initially, he supported agriculture and fruit cultivation. Under the influence of his wife, Karoline Luise, who was in contact with the most famous researcher of the time, Carl von Linné, Karl Friedrich focused increasingly on botany, expanding his scientific plant collection.

Historic image of former winter garden at the Karlsruhe Botanical Gardens. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Sandra Eberle

The plant houses were built in the 1850s.

NEW SPACE FOR BOTANY

Soon, the plant collection outgrew the existing conservatories and green spaces, which is why, in 1808, Karl Friedrich had the botanical gardens erected at their current location. Work on the dilapidated orangeries southwest of the palace was aborted and architect Friedrich Weinbrenner was commissioned to design the land and conservatories. From 1853 on, architect Heinrich Hübsch was responsible for the gardens and they took their current shape. This was ordered by Friedrich I, the second to last Grand Duke of Baden.

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