Monopteros in the Englischer Garten in Munich

The lawn in the English Garden

Nothing is greener

The lawn in the Englischer Garten is perfect. Our author also has a garden, and wants to know: How do they manage it?

Envy is the highest mark of appreciation – and anyone who enjoys gardening for pleasure should feel envious upon entering the Englischer Garten. Seriously, how are the lawns here so perfect? How is the grass so velvety soft – and how come, even at the height of summer, it stays so lush and green that a new word needs to be invented just to adequately describe the colour? Why is there no sign here of any those scourges of the domestic lawn keeper: moss, weeds, bald patches? Have they identified the perfect fertiliser? Or do they just have the very best species of grass in the world? What is the magic formula? What trickery do they use?

I call Bernd Rogge, Technical Manager of the Englischer Garten – a more difficult task than the sentence suggests. It takes weeks to get Bernd Rogge on the phone. Due to the arrogant hauteur of this lawn artist? Because he continues to jealously guard his secrets? No: it’s because Bernd Rogge is a very busy man, and too modest to make a fuss about himself. A lawn is nothing very special, Rogge tells me, when I’m finally able to speak to him.

It takes weeks to get Bernd Rogge on the phone. Due to the arrogant hauteur of this lawn artist? Because he continues to jealously guard his secrets?

“Apart from the North and South Poles, there are indigenous grasses in all climate zones; they make up the majority of the vegetation on the planet.” He’s right, of course. Grasses – known by various names such as steppe, savannah, pampas and prairie – cover more than a third of the earth’s land surface. The Englischer Garten encompasses an area of 384 hectares, making it larger than New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park, and you could see it as a sort of inner-city savannah – only more beautiful than most.

The Eisbach river which wends its way through the park; the Monopteros temple; the blissful salvation to be found in the beer garden at the Chinesischer Turm; deciduous trees that tower overhead, their beautiful branches moving gently with the wind: all these things make the Englischer Garten what it is. And yet, what would it be without what it grows from, without the ground on which everything stands? The lawn, nature’s soft carpet, calls out to every visitor, whether local or tourist: You are welcome here! Take off your shoes – take a seat or lie back; nothing will bother you here, and you’ll find nothing to scratch or poke you as you recline; relax. This is your public, green living room.

Bernd Rogge speaks slowly and precisely: it sounds a little as though he might be reading from a ring binder, but in fact he has all the figures in his head.

There are around 70 employees taking care of the Englischer Garten – not just gardeners, but also fitters, mechanics, carpenters and painters who keep the benches and bins looking smart. And of course there are administrative staff too, from messengers to the executive board. Rogge tells me that while these are all very capable people, they are not wizards – they have no magical ingredients or mysterious skills. “In the past, it was seeds that fell out of haylofts which were simply swept up and sown. We still have to replant certain particularly exposed areas in the Englischer Garten from time to time, though these days we simply use various standard seed mixtures that comply with the DIN 18917 standard – similar to those you can buy in any hardware store. We buy 80 to 100 10-kilo sacks of grass seed every year, containing a wide variety of standard seed mixtures."

Bernd Rogge speaks slowly and precisely: it sounds a little as though he might be reading from a ring binder, but in fact he has all the figures in his head. He even knows how many blades of grass grow in a single square metre of the Englischer Garten (between 80,000 and 100,000). By my reckoning the entire Englischer Garten must contain 30 to 40 billion blades of grass. No two of these are exactly the same, and together they form a gently undulating surface in innumerable shades of green.

While a sea view is about the only natural joy that Munich cannot offer, there is a similar happiness to be found in gazing over the rippling grass of the Englischer Garten – whether in the soft sunshine of the afternoon, by the light of the moon, or in the morning when the dew glitters as though thousands of diamonds have been hidden in the grass overnight.

“People come here to be seen, to marvel, and to be admired, so persons of all classes need to be able to gather here and move in long, colourful processions while the little ones can skip around,” wrote Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell, the landscape gardener who completed the Englischer Garten at the beginning of the 19th century. Visitors come to the Englischer Garten not only to observe nature, but also to observe other observers of nature – which is precisely what makes the place so appealing. Even today, out of all the places in Munich, it is a park that is still the most metropolitan.

"We mow it frequently – as often as twice a week in May and June.” It seems as though the man might finally be willing to share his secrets.

Up to 400,000 people come here every weekend – and, of course, they don’t all keep to the paths, so the grass needs to be suitably robust. Every amateur gardener knows that when grass is too long, it gets trampled down; but if it is too short, it might scorch in the sun. “An ideal length for grass is between three and eight centimetres, similar to the length required for grazing horses and cows on agricultural pastures. We mow it frequently – as often as twice a week in May and June.” It seems as though the man might finally be willing to share his secrets: “What fertilisers do you use, Mr Rogge?” – “We don’t use any.” – “And how often do you water the grass (and how do you even water 384 hectares anyway)?” – “We don’t water it at all”.

Gardeners with private lawns turn on their sprinklers two to three times a week in summer, and according to Rogge that can also have a negative impact as it can make the grass lazy: it will get water no matter what it does. Grass that is not watered from the time it is sown sends its roots deeper – as much two metres is not uncommon – and can therefore better survive dry periods.

“Many garden owners do too much in their gardens – too much water, too much fertiliser.”
Bernd Rogge

It won’t do in the dry, sandy soil they have in Berlin, for example – the parks in the German capital often look more like deserts in the summer. But in the Englischer Garten the groundwater is relatively abundant, so Munich’s grass fends for itself – and that is perhaps why it can carry its head particularly high.

“Many garden owners do too much in their gardens – too much water, too much fertiliser,” insists Rogge. A park is a place where nature and culture meet; it needs to be maintained, but you mustn’t overdo it. Tranquillity is important, the serene Bernd Rogge points out. And tranquillity can be easily learned, for example during an outing among the green expanses of the Englischer Garten.

 

Text: Jakob Schrenk; Photos: Redline Enterprises, Frank Stolle, Peter von Felbert

Covid-19: current regulations

Hotels and accommodation establishments, shops, indoor and outdoor catering, and also clubs and discos are open. However, restrictions apply. All other important information on the coronavirus and your stay in Munich can be found here.

Tao Schirrmacher surfs the Eisbach wave in his wetsuit

“For me, the Eisbach is a cultural asset”

Nobody knows the Eisbach river quite as well as Tao Schirrmacher; the triple European surfing champion has been riding the river’s standing wave for 15 years.

Nobody knows the Eisbach river quite as well as Tao Schirrmacher; the triple European surfing champion has been riding the river’s standing wave for 15 years.

Young woman stands between two trees and looks at a sun-drenched meadow in Munich.

A local safari

Beavers, tawny owls, kingfishers: with a bit of luck, you can see many wild animals in Nymphenburg Castle Park. A visit.

Deer, beavers, adders, kingfishers, tawny owls, Canada geese: with a little luck, you can see all sorts of wildlife in Nymphenburger Schlosspark – in the heart of the city!

Two women on wheels cycle in the green into the evening sun in Munich.

A touch of wildnerness

A talk about the great outdoors, the magic of the woods and the love of the Northern English Garden.

A talk about the great outdoors, the magic of the woods and the love of the Northern English Garden.

Close-up of a forest and two people in Munich.

My friend, the tree

Waldbaden in Munich: Our columnist visits a nature reserve together with a forester.

Waldbaden in Munich: Our columnist visits a nature reserve together with a forester.

Three tourists on the Olympia Mountain viewing platform overlooking the park.

The north-south passage: hiking across Munich

A hiking tour through Munich – always towards the sun.

A hiking tour through Munich – always towards the sun: from BMW Welt in the north to the lake at Hinterbrühl in the south. In just one day!

Monopteros in the Englischer Garten in Munich.

The east-west passage: hiking across Munich

Munich is a village. Right?

Munich is a village, you can do everything by foot here. That is what they say. But is that true? We gave it a try - and went on a hike!

A man on a bicycle in the evening sun in the Maxvorstadt in Munich

Grand city tour

Discover the beauty of Munich outside of the city center at the grand city tour by bike.

From the centre of the old town to the Kunstareal art district, and on to the former summer residence of the Wittelsbach family, to the Olympic Park and back across Leopoldstraße. 

Two women with a bicycle on a pier by a lake in Bavaria.

Bathe, banter, bike

Whether „Hopfen and Bier-Schleife“, „Salz-Schleife“ or „Kunst- and Kulturschleife“, Munich is the hub for all routes of the water cycle paths.

Whether „Hopfen and Bier-Schleife“, „Salz-Schleife“ or „Kunst- and Kulturschleife“, Munich is the hub for all routes of the water cycle paths.

Cyclist in Munich.

Munich is beautiful – and even more so by bike!

Discover urban life, Munich's green lungs and the surrounding area by bike. An overview of the different routes and guided tours by bike.

Discover urban life, Munich's green lungs and the surrounding area by bike. An overview of the different routes and guided tours by bike.

Munich Card & City Pass

Discover Munich in a relaxed and uncomplicated way: discounts for the diverse range of art, culture and leisure activities with our guest cards.

Public transport is included

Many discounts with the Card, many things for free with the Pass.

Online or at the tourist information offices

Panoramic view of the Munich Christmas market at Marienplatz.

Christmas Market Tour

Get in the mood for Christmas on this tour through the old town in the wonderful atmosphere of fragrant almonds and glittering lights.

Book now for 28 €!

Get in the mood for Christmas on this tour through the old town in the wonderful atmosphere of fragrant almonds and glittering lights.

Get in the mood for Christmas on this tour through the old town in the wonderful atmosphere of fragrant almonds and glittering lights.

Small meeting room of the Neues Rathaus in Munich

Exclusive tour through the town hall

Explore the Neue Rathaus on Marienplatz with an official City of Munich tour guide. A visit of the famous law library is also included!

Book now from 18 €

Explore the Neue Rathaus on Marienplatz with an official tour guide. A visit of the famous law library is also included!

Magistrates, Monachia and magnificent celebrations: explore the Neue Rathaus on Marienplatz with an official City of Munich tour guide. A visit of the famous law library is also included!

A woman with varnished fingernails holds a gift with the inscription "simply Munich".

Vouchers

Buy now vouchers for your visit in Munich. The ideal gift! Guided tours, guest cards and more...

Buy vouchers from 6 €

Buy now vouchers for your visit in Munich. The ideal gift! Guided tours, guest cards and more...