Mainau, Island of Flowers

 

Mainau Island, Lake Constance (Bodensee) near Konstanz, Germany.
As far back as 1827, Hungarian Prince Esterházy designed the present-day courtyard and planted precious exotic and domestic flowers. In 1853, Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden acquired the island as a summer residence. He extended the tree population, created the arboretum and designed the “Italian Rose Garden”. He also introduced lemon, orange and palm trees to the Mainau.
In the 1930s his great-grandson, Count Lennart, transformed the then overgrown park into an oasis of beauty that could be opened to the public, and created a Foundation oversee it. The present owners are the Count and Countess Bernadotte, the fifth generation of the family at Mainau since 1853. The Isle of Mainau is run by their private limited company. The Mainau company employs 155 persons all year round and 350 persons during the flowering season from April until September. They try to garden in keeping with excellent environmental practice. There is also an ‘Energy Pavilion’ on the island.
Mainau Island is open to the public all year from sunrise to sunset, and because of its exceptionally mild climate is worth visiting in the winter too. Snowdrops crocuses and other spring flowers like pansies, daisies, forget-me-nots, wallflowers and narcissi flower from the beginning of March, and orchids are on show early in the warm Palm House. The rhododendrons flower in May, and summer bedding plants take over from May to October, alongside roses in the Rose Promenade and Italian Rose Garden. At the end of August there is a Dahlia Show complete with a ‘Mainau Queen of the Dahlias’. In the baroque Mainau Palace there are regular temporary exhibitions.
To get there, you can take a boat directly to the island’s harbour (ferries run from Meersburg and Uhldingen), or you can come by car or coach to the car park on the mainland and then walk across the pedestrian footbridge. In keeping with its environmental principles, Mainau welcomes cyclists: the Lake Constance cycle path passes the island and they have provided a special cycle parking area on the mainland with lockers where you can leave your stuff.
Children are catered for in many ways: there’s a play area on the lake (including a drier for wet clothes!) and another on dry land for really small children in the form of a dwarf village; a petting zoo and pony rides are also on offer. One warm greenhouse contains thousands of butterflies, and another garden is created specially to suit exotic insects. As you can see, opportunities for a wide variety of photographs abound on this, the third largest island in Lake Constance.


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