Between Christmas and New Year we went on a quick trip north to Kassel to see my grandma and aunt, but the husband and I also managed to squeeze in a visit to the historic greenhouse in Wilhelmshöhe, the enormous combination of baroque giardino all'italiana and English landscape park that sits on a hillside above the city. The greenhouse was originally built in 1822-1823 and between 1886 and 1888 a tall central palm house was added. It is only open to the public from December to May, when the two barely heated outer wings are filled predominantly with plants that were already attested in the garden during the 19th century. These include mainly Mediterranean species and broadleaf evergreens, with camellias being the stars of the show - largely plants, that is, which here in the southwest of Germany are commonly grown outdoors. The warm, humid central hall meanwhile is filled with a riot of orchids and bromeliads set against tropical foliage.
A few along the front façade of the greenhouse
Camellias and other evergreens in the first wing of the greenhouse, underplanted with florist's cyclamen
A lovely princess flower (Tibouchina urvilleana)
One of the first of the Camellia japonica hybrids to bloom
In the warm central section, seasonally stocked with poinsettias
A Cattleya-type orchid, one of many that were in full bloom
The chinoiserie bird cage in the center of the tropical section, which houses canaries that fill the space with their chirping
A section of the second cool wing
The central water feature
Seasonal bedding display of Primula obconica
I had not been able to explore the interior of this greenhouse complex since I was a kid, and I was taken by the high standard of cultivation and attention to detail. The impeccable old-fashioned seasonal displays of tender primroses, cyclamens, and the like in particular were really lovely and not necessarily something I had expected. Also a delightful surprise to me, used as I am to the often hefty ticket prices at American museums, gardens, and other attractions, was the modest entrance fee of €3.00 for adults and €2.00 for students. One really has to appreciate the support public horticulture gets here.