Arts + Culture

Green Retreats

by Stephen Anderton

The garden: Wörlitz

A tree grows in: Wörlitz, Germany, near Dessau

First planted: 1764

Roots: Leopold Friedrich Franz, a prince in Saxony who was a passionate lover of all things English, never did things by halves. When he came to power in 1758, aged 18, he set about lining the roads of his land with fruit trees, and he also built several great gardens. Wörlitz was his greatest undertaking. While Franz was a student of Enlightenment, he also had a flair for drama: He put in 17 different kinds of bridges, temples galore, phallic flower beds, a statuary, an amphitheater, and even an artificial volcano on a small lake, fueled by gas flares and patterned after Mount Vesuvius (Franz was also obsessed with Naples). It's all woven into a circuit of lakes and islands, so if walking the 278 acres sounds overwhelming, relax: You can also tour it by gondola. After nearly 15 years of restoration (the garden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the flair has returned. In 2005, to celebrate the park’s rehabilitation, the volcano erupted once again in a torrent of steam and smoke and lava. Who said gardens should always be quiet?

Wörlitz Park
Tel: 49 340 646 150

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