The castle garden of Kastel Arcen is a destination worth seeing north of Venlo and is situated not far from the Meuse and the former fortified town of Arcen itself.
Actually, I'm not such a big fan of theme gardens. This reminds me too much of the artificial effect of gardens that are created for state or federal garden shows.
However, when I cycle past Arcen Castle, about 15 kilometres from Venlo, the hermetically sealed garden, which is surrounded by hedges and shrubs, aroused my curiosity. Because the entrance is in a really romantic moated castle, in whose moat numerous water lilies and overhanging trees make a beautiful picture.
Already the walk to the entrance is impressive and leads on a massive bridge over the moat overgrown with water lilies into the castle courtyard.
The brick castle itself was built in the 17th century by the Dukes of Guelders, who once ruled over a large part of what is now known as the Netherlands. As a result of various peace treaties (Peace of Westphalia, Peace of Basle, Congress of Vienna), the duchy was repeatedly annexed to new states and its former territory now occupies a large part of both the district of Guelders and the Netherlands. The first Count of Guelders was Gerhard III Count of Wassenberg (around 1096).
After the ticket office, you enter the former, rebuilt orangery, which is now used as a sales area for numerous small garden accessories and decorative items.
The classic clockwise tour first leads to an impressive parterre in the Italian style, which is surrounded by a large hornbeam Berceau. This offers sufficient shade even in summer due to its arbour-like character and serves to cool down, while one is bathed in sun and heat in the numerous rose gardens arranged around the central pond.
Berceaus are classic components of renaissance gardens and are made of hedgerow-like growing tree species and get their arbour-like shape by regular pruning. Due to their strict geometrical shape, Berceaus also have their special charm in winter. The Berceau in the gardens of Arcen Castle is also distinguished by the fact that it has a climbable viewing platform from which one can get a good view of the ground floor with its fountains and flowerbeds. Also in the park of Versailles there are these shapely and shady arcades, picture of a Berceau in Versailles.
Already in the rose garden a special quality of the garden design is noticeable, it is the many and varied seating arrangements! The garden invites you to enjoy and linger in many different places. Because all parts of the garden are self-contained, one of the most seating areas and viewpoints has a view of an almost closed landscape design. I liked that very much.
Of course, the really exuberant rose gardens are also worth a special mention. If one gets a sunny day as we did in the beginning of June, it is really perfect and the scent and the colours are really deafening.
Relaxing in the quiet tree garden
From the ground floor in the Italian style with its surrounding rose gardens, we move on to a now very quiet and sparingly designed garden area, where 7 ponds surround a few footbridges under tall trees. Everything is framed by a path laid out in a large circle. Here one can relax one's eyes after the many impressions of before.
The landscape changes again and we walk on narrow paths and wooden footbridges along a quite big lake. On the right bank you can already see the 3200 square meter greenhouse with its two different growth zones and the Koi fish, which are so gladly fed by the visitors.
The area around the lake is nicely planted. From the shore - where you can also sit down on numerous benches - one can see flamingos grazing on the other side of the lake and for a moment I feel like I'm in a lovely Jurassic Park scenario.
Not far from the lake and right next to a children's playground there is a small café that provides one with the most necessary things.
The garden succeeds in arranging astonishingly closed plantings in a quite manageable space. So often one feels transported to another place or another country. Thereby the gardens merge astonishingly gently into each other.
Since maples and Hosta (Funkien) are among my absolute favourite plants, I would like to mention the successful design of the Japanese Maple Garden in particular. Especially the design with leaf colours and leaf shapes, which demands so much from dabbling gardeners like me, I find particularly successful and beautiful to look at. Large areas of the slender Japanese trees are planted with large-leaved perennials that cover the ground. And that in the most diverse shades of green.
In 1820 he came to Europe
The Japanese maple
Native to Japan, where it reaches a height of 15 m, it has been introduced as an ornamental tree since 1820. As such it grows only 3-6 m high. As its leaves, which are often red in colour, are also very different in shape, it is cultivated in numerous forms, including one in which the lobes of the leaves are very narrow and split at the base, making the leaves look as if they have been slit. The small umbellifers, which appear in May and are not very flowery, are purple in colour; despite their inconspicuousness, they are, like almost all species of maple, insect-flowering.
Blossom and fruit in the life of trees, by Karl Otto Bartels, 1930
The plant was first described by a European by Carl Peter Thunberg, a physician, botanist and naturalist born in 1743 in Jönköping, Sweden. He is regarded as a pioneer of the Western record of the Japanese plant world, which he explored on his journey from 1775, restricted by the strict Japanese supervision of Western guests.
The garden is large. If one sits down and enjoys from time to time, one takes time for the different parts of the garden and also looks at the many plants individually, the playing birds and squirrels, the natural looking meadows with the beautiful ornamental garlic enough views, time flies.
During the week it is not particularly crowded in the garden and there is almost always that wonderful feeling that one rarely has in other people's gardens, that all this was created just for oneself.
The garden is a nice excursion destination, specially if one wants to escape completely from the big city noise and madness, the entrance fee of 17,50 euros for one adult or the family ticket for 2 adults and 3 children of 46,00 euros I still find appropriate.
After the visit of the park, the few steps to the place Arcen are worthwhile, where one can have an excellent Dutch lunch at the bank of the Meuse.
The gardens in the large park of Arcen Castle in the Netherlands are well worth a visit because of the great variety and many loving details.