Berlin has a superb, fully integrated transport system. A day's travelcard cost €6.40 and covered bus, U-bahn, trams and S-bahn (overground system). Even more impressive, our average wait for the next train/bus etc was around 4 minutes.
Arriving at Botanische Garden station was a bit like arriving at Chiswick - we stepped straight out into that suburban quiet of a sunny day, a small row of shops outside the station, the long walk (around 1 km) to the garden itself. The tall, rather stately Germanic terraces made a characterful contrast to the many high-rise mediocrities of the city centre.
Entrance to the garden is €6 - a bargain compared with the eye-watering £14.50 entrance fee to Kew. The café, in common with all the other museum cafés we visited, and unlike Kew's, was run in a homely fashion, unfranchised, producing excellent fresh, home-made soup and snacks at a very reasonable price.
Berlin Botanical Garden is the second largest in the world (126 acres to Kew's 300) and grows around 22,000 different species of plants. We didn't stay all day as we had a boat trip to get back to, so we took the Spring Tour. Here's a taste:
Daphne mezereum saturated the air with perfume well before we saw it next to the raised herb beds.
Plant protection, large and small. The rather beefed up cloche in front was protecting Rheum (giant rhubarb). The glass house built like a small cathedral in the background was the Mediterranean house.
The Mediterranean House.
In the Grosses Tropenhaus (Great Tropical House).
In a more temperate zone.
In the Cactus House. This is only touching the edges of the glasshouses, which are stunning and must draw many visitors in the winter. You can see on the garden map how far the sixteen greenhouses extend. Soaring pictures of the houses feature at Garden Gluttony, and there are some showing the construction in the slideshow of Botanical Garden views.
The "Rock Garden" is extraordinary. It's part of the extensive Plant Geography section, which covers a third of the whole garden. Here a a path winds through a miniature mountain range of 12 rock gardens, taking in everywhere from the Caucasus to the Alps. Obviously not at their best at this time, it was still possible to see how floriferous they'll be later in the year.
And after wending our way back through the arboretum and past the Rosea section, with fruit trees and rose bushes (none of which were anywhere near blossoming) we headed back to the city. Not, however, without a bit of a giggle:
For pictures of the gardens at a better season, visit The Fabulous Times, and for a glimpse of the Victoria House (which was unfortunately shut) see Victoria Adventure, and visit the garden map at the Botanische Garten's website to take a little tour through its various regions.
Finally, I've never added so many pictures to a blog. Let me know if it causes problems downloading.