Mainau - blooming Lake Constance island – all year around

Mainau - blooming Lake Constance island – all year around

Discussing common interests in Turkey was the reason why Brita and Gerda came to Augsburg for a few days to meet Georg for the first time.

Since we know her preference for romantic beer gardens in an idyllic atmosphere, we looked for and found two rooms in the Oberschönenfeld Abbey as accommodation, which, in addition to the well-known good food of the abbey, also offered the opportunity to relax and rest. After extensive coffee drinking and initial discussions on the subject of Turkey, a trip to the flower island of Mainau was planned for the following day, which we had last seen more than 20 years ago.

mainau 1In the early morning of the following day we drove on the 300 Landstrasse to Memmingen, then used the 96 Autobahn to Lindau and then drove via Meersburg along Lake Constance via Überlingen to Radolfzell, where we had arranged to meet Sepp Bögle, the stone stacker from Lake Constance. We have already put a report online for this meeting (Handwerk/steine-stapler-sepp-boegle). From here, after our conversation with Sepp, it was only 21 kilometers to the flower island of Mainau, which we were able to enjoy with wonderful weather and a beautiful landscape.

Today it can be described more as a peninsula, because a vehicle-pedestrian bridge leads to the island, and crossing the bridge was an experience in itself: swarms of fish cavorted in the shallow water of the really clean Lake Constance. We were really surprised by their size and number. Like most of the other visitors, we followed the offered circular route, which first led us into the rows of sequoias, which could almost be described as an avenue. Here, in the so-called arboretum, derived from the Latin word arbor = tree, there are huge collections of mostly exotic trees and shrubs, consisting of sequoias, Atlas and Lebanon cedars, metasequoias and tulip trees. The wealth of almost 250 species of trees and shrubs in the arboretum proves to be a real park experience, a place of rest and relaxation.

mainau 4The Mainau Arboretum was founded in 1853 when Grand Duke Friedrich acquired Mainau. Gradually he planted alien trees and shrubs from almost every continent on the island's high plateau, including the coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), which was one of the first of its kind to come to Europe from California in the mid-19th century. Cedars from snow-free regions of the Atlas Mountains (Cedrus atlantica and C. atlantica Glauca), Himalayan cedars (C. deodara), incense cedars and various species of false cypress (Chamaecyparis). In addition, giant cedar (Thuja plicata), the very rare Californian yew (Torreya californica), several species of fir (Abies gigantea, A. pinsapo, A. nordmanniana, A. cephalonica) and spruce (Picea). Magnolias (Magnolia) and Japanese ornamental cherries (Prunus) provide beautiful color accents. Other magnificent specimens of handkerchief tree (Davidia involucrata), beech trees (Fagus), linden trees (Tilia), plane trees (Platanus x hispanica), oak trees (Quercus), nut trees (Juglans), katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), trumpet trees (Catalpa bignonioides), partly with mighty expansive trail forests.

Again and again clusters of blooming flower fields between the groups of trees, a wonderful play of colors for the eyes, especially of course in the rose garden at the castle. From the end of May until the first frost, 12,000 rose plants in more than 1,200 varieties adorn the island of Lake Constance. Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden already had a weakness for these noble plants and for this reason had a rose garden created next to the palace terrace in 1871, which has been preserved in its baroque form to this day.

Mainau's famous rose garden

mainau 2At the end of May / beginning of June, the rose blossom begins with the old cultivars such as apothecary rose, classic Bourbon rose, moss rose, potato rose and many others. Along the so-called "Promenade of Wild and Shrub Roses" they put on a true spectacle of colors ranging from yellow to pink to deep dark purple. Unlike the mostly double hybrid tea roses, the flowers of the wild roses are simple and are less convincing because of the luxuriance of the individual flowers than because of the abundance of the delicate and simple flowers on the bushes, which can be up to 5 m high. Anyone who has ever walked this path will not forget the beguiling scent of countless rosebuds. Also in the following months the roses bloom along the path. This is ensured by the numerous modern breeds of shrub roses that bloom regularly or permanently.

After the blossoming of the wild and shrub roses, come the Hybrid Tea roses, whose peak bloom lasts until mid-July. Most hybrid tea roses thrive in the "Italian rose garden" near the palace terrace. This is where the variety and beauty of this type of flower is shown: as richly blooming tufted roses on the beds, artistically grown as a standard, piled up to form rose pyramids or as climbing roses climbing pergolas and trellises. In autumn, many of the roses produce a second bloom, and some varieties even open their buds until the first frost.

Lovers of exotic plants will also get their money's worth in the summer months. Palm trees, lemon trees, fruiting banana trees, lush blooming bougainvilleas and the heavy scent of angel's trumpets are evidence that summer has reached its peak. But not only the exotics offer a summer symphony for all senses. In the various flower gardens around the castle, on the Italian Flower Water Staircase and in the other flower beds, summer flowers will take the place of spring bloomers from mid-May. The gardeners are hard at work, as more than 250,000 bedding plants, including many new and unusual breeds, have to be grown and planted out.

The butterfly house casts a spell over us

mainau 3We are drawn to the butterfly house as another highlight of the Mainau day, after all the second largest butterfly house in Germany. The tour through the exotic landscape with its unique vegetation gives you a real tropical feeling: With a humidity of around 90% and temperatures between 25° C and 30° C, you can see free-flying tropical butterflies from Africa, Asia, Central and South America in approx. Marvel at 120 different species.

At times, moths with a wingspan of up to 30 cm can also be seen. 70% of the moths come directly from the countries of origin, where they are bred in special breeding farms. These arrive weekly as dolls on the island of Mainau. The remaining 30% multiply directly in the butterfly house on the respective food plants.

There, the development from the egg to the caterpillar (larva) and pupa to the finished moth can be observed.

Some of the species of butterflies in the butterfly house:

  • Argema mittrei female - Madagascar moon moth
  • Attacus atlas - Atlas moth
  • Biblis hyperia
  • Chrysiridia croesus
  • Callima paralekta
  • Morpho achilles
  • Morphopeleides
  • Papilio ophidicephalus
  • Papilio palinurus
  • Papilio romanzovia

mainau 5Arrived at the port of the island of Mainau, after a tour of about 3 hours so far, we decide to take a short break for lunch and then also visit the second half of the park. Brita shows particular interest in the Italian Water Staircase, which at this time of year is beautifully presented in all the colors of nature with the growth of so-called wild flowers and herbs. Children use the long water drain as a water slide, which provides refreshment and fun at the same time. A little further on we find a bed suspended high up in the tree, appearing as an almost natural work of art. Then we come across a tree that is draped all over with pink or white ribbons. The rite of hanging up colored ribbons as good luck charms is well known to us from Turkey. There is also such a place on the island of Mainau. The plants and trees on the shore of Lake Constance open up again and again, allowing a view of the lake. Paddlers are out and about in their boats near the island, who also use the shallow, clean water on the shore for swimming.

In general, there are a variety of activities on Mainau that are specifically geared towards children and adolescents. So it is not surprising that whole groups of schoolchildren romp about on the island. There is even the offer of pedagogical work with the groups, which is to be shown here with an example:

Experience nature with all your senses

mainau 6The Mainau Green School is an extracurricular environmental education facility and has been offering a wide range of projects for groups and classes on topics such as butterflies, water, gardening or the forest for more than 20 years. The team of forest wardens, social pedagogues and expert employees also tailors the program individually to topics relevant to the education plan, if desired. A sense of achievement and working together outdoors, for example gardening or exploring the forest with all your senses, has a positive effect on the children's social behavior and promotes team spirit. The island of Mainau as a platform offers the ideal setting for this: With its tropical butterfly house, its gardens and the Mainau forest on the mainland, where lots of adventures await. On a natural history discovery tour of the island, precise observation, smelling, hearing, feeling and tasting are particularly important. During the summer holidays in Baden-Württemberg, the Green School, in cooperation with the city of Constance, also offers one-week holiday camps with a specific motto for children aged six to ten. The Green School Mainau is part of the non-profit association "Gärtnern für Alle e.V.", the programs can be booked all year round (tel.: 0 75 31/303 253; e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Experience the forest in the Mainau adventure forest

mainau 8On an area of 1.6 hectares, the "Mainau Adventure Forest" on the adjacent mainland offers an unforgettable experience of nature and exciting challenges for children from the age of ten. It includes elements of a climbing forest and high ropes course, a sensory path, an elevated circular path and a treetop path up to 28 meters high and natural tree houses. Secured to ropes and carabiners, visitors climb at different heights over freely swinging branches, balance over a taut rope, walk over suspension bridges and sometimes climb vertically upwards. There are also elements such as swings, lianas, climbing nets and an incredible variety of exercises. Visitors who are hungry for action rush through the green foliage on an 80-metre-long zip line. In addition, he learns on the course how important the forest is for nature, people and animals. The Mainau adventure forest is open daily from 10:00 a.m. from April 26th until autumn and offers, among other things, experience-oriented events for school classes and youth groups. Participants must be at least 1.40m tall.

After further hours of exploring the island of Mainau, we are enthusiastic about the work of the gardeners and the other offer, which leaves nothing to be desired, the changeable face of the island is so varied and diverse. A return at another time of the year is already planned. It's just amazing what people have done here.

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Life | Outdoors