Once, Berggarten was a mulberry tree plantation for the Elector's silkworm farms. Today it is a treasure house of botanic diversity.
Here, taking a close look at details pays rich rewards, whether enjoying the beauties of nature or following the botanist’s researches into the intricacies of the plant world. Over the centuries, plants from the four corners of the earth have found their way to Berggarten and some of them, like the African Violet or the Flamingo Flower (Anthurium), were the first of their kind to be seen in Europe. Berggarten is well worth a visit at any season, and over the years its appearance is constantly changing and astonishing visitors with new worlds of colour and atmosphere.
A home for exotic plants
As early as 1700 modest glasshouses were built here at the behest of Electress Sophie to cultivate Herrenhausen’s first exotic plants, but it was a while before scientific enquiry became the main purpose of Berggarten; first the garden served to grow exotic crops such as coffee and cocoa. As knowledge of growing and caring for such crops was limited there were all sorts of experiments with foreign plants. Hopes of growing Berggarten rice were dashed after just two years – Hannover was too cold. More successful was the cultivation of mulberry trees; for a hundred years the plantation in Berggarten fed the silkworms of the royal silk factory in Hamelin.
World-famous orchid collection
At the end of the 18th century work began on establishing a botanic garden, classifying its exotic plants according to the system of eminent botanist Carl von Linné. A succession of influential master gardeners shaped the development of Berggarten, prominent among them the Wendland family. Over three generations they not only devoted themselves to botanical research by cultivating, describing and naming exotic plants but also laid the foundations of today's glorious plant show. They established the Berggarten orchid collection, which is still the most varied in Europe.
Towards the end of the 19th century the Great Palm House was built – 30 metres high, housing palms, monkey puzzle trees, bananas, coffee plants and sugar cane. The Palm House was destroyed by bombs in the Second World War. Today the 'Sea Life Hannover' aquarium stands on this spot.