Alpine Garden

In the second half of the 19th century when collecting mountainous plants and establishing alpine gardens was the trend in Europe, Count Arnošt Emanuel Silva-Tarouca established an extensive natural landscape park in Průhonice near Prague. A large alpine garden was part of this. After forming the Dendrological Society, over which Count Silva-Tarouca presided, the park including the alpine garden received much support. The alpine garden was soon to become one of the largest and most beautiful in Europe. Arnošt Emanuel was gradually grouped alongside the other successful and well-known botanists including: Correvon, Sündermann, Wocke, etc.
“The large rocks and stony cliffs enabled me to establish an Alpine Garden, which because of its size, species abundance and natural appearance had made a reputation for itself even before the world war…” 
Count Arnošt Emanuel Silva-Tarouca
The alpine garden in Průhonice covers 3 ha above the Botič Stream valley. The terrain is mainly southerly facing rocky terraces and promontories that in places extend up to 20 m high. Count Silva-Tarouca originally built the alpine garden on the rocky cliffs of Algonquian slate and in a very unusual way. He had a ray-shaped 2-m high, 2.5-m long and 15-cm wide brick wall built on the rocks. The spaces between the walls were filled with gravel and then large boulders were cemented to these. These boulders created sort of copulas that were finally planted with alpine plants. The founder wanted to create a rugged terrain with various microclimates. Some of the copulas had irrigation nozzles at their peaks, which also served as orientation points in the alpine garden. The Swiss log-house – a wooden cottage in the fading romanticism style located at the highest point of the alpine garden also helped to create the illusion of mountain scenery.
After World War II, the deteriorating alpine garden needed serious reconstruction; the original approach was changed to attempt to create natural plant communities characteristic of the individual sites. The demanding repairs needed to fix the original construction were abandoned and replaced by another approach to the alpine garden. This new approach was later adjusted so that instead of having only natural communities, plants with similar site requirements were planted together. To date elements of American, European, Asian and South African flora harmoniously divide this common space creating artificial plant communities that with greater or lesser success have until now been maintained and enriched. Using this approach, the composition of the alpine garden is also currently being developed.
The composition of the alpine garden is as such that throughout most of the year something is in flower. Most of the collection is easily visible from the path that leads below the alpine garden along the Botič Stream. For safety reasons but also because of the collecting passion of some of our visitors, entrance to the alpine garden is not allowed.
The Průhonice Alpine Garden can brag about several of its records:  
  • Practically the only still existing Alpine Garden in the Czech Republic that is part of a large natural landscape composition
  • With its approximately 65 000 m² it is one of the largest alpine gardens on natural rocks in Europe
  • It has the oldest bush from genus Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamelia) in the Czech Republic
  • The oldest witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) in the Czech Republic
  • The largest and oldest climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris) in the Czech Republic
  • Oldest collection of dwarf evergreens in the Czech Republic
  • First grown example of the dwarf pine ‘Šmidky’ (Pinus heldreichii ‘Schmidtii’) in the world