A walk through the park               

By passing through the Renaissance arched gabled gateway, which is also the main entrance to the complex of the Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, we come to the Large Courtyard of the Průhonice castle. From here we have a view of the Romanesque chapel, the left wing of the castle called the Small castle with its Neo-renaissance and sgraffito gables and of the face of the main Castle building. The entrance to the Large Courtyard is the only part of the Průhonice Park that is regularly maintained. It was designed by landscape architect František Thomayer, but the design was somewhat altered during completion. According to Thomayer’s original design there is a stone fountain surrounded by symmetric rosebeds in the southeastern part of the central oval in front of the castle. Interesting groups of trees include magnolia and star magnolias (Magnolia soulangeana and Magnolia stellata), smaller dove trees (Davidia involucrata var. vilmoriniana) with heart-shaped leaves found on the northern side of the oval close to the entrance and a big-leaf linden tree (Tilia platyphyllos) that has branches all the way to the ground. There are also deciduous rhododendrons or azaleas and a princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa) with its clusters of bluish-purple flowers that originates in Central China. The area in front of the chapel is full of mainly rhododendrons, both evergreen and deciduous bordered by heather and heath. The wall of the Small castle is covered in one spot by a mature northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), while a tall Alaska cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) draws attention to the face of the main castle building. Beside this Alaska cedar is a smaller western cedar, both originally North-American woody species. In front of the Alaska cedar, to the right of the main gateway to the Small courtyard is a Japanese orixa (Orixa japonica), a rarity here in the Czech Republic.
If we go through the main castle building’s gateway we come to the Small courtyard and can go to the terrace from where a view of the Podzámecký pond and the park open in front of us. We should mention the sgraffito-decorated façade of the Knights Hall with coats of arms depicted in lunettes and Hanuš Schwaiger’s fresco showing Saint George fighting the dragon. The arcade gallery and fountain with a decorative wrought iron cover that is a copy of the fountain on the Malé rynek square (Small Square) in Prague should also be mentioned.
The main path in the right corner of the Large courtyard takes us around the copper beech (Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea) down to the fork in the path below the dam of the Podzámecký pond where we can get a view of the Sádkový pond. The Botič Stream connects both ponds. It runs through the entire park and is an important element that underlies the landscaping of the terrain and directly and indirectly affects to some degree even the composition of plant communities. The stream with its natural meanders and artificial, constructed weirs and dams is also an important esthetic element.
If we look back at the castle our attention is drawn to the low stone tower – the bastion, the oldest preserved part of the castle complex that is the remains of a Medieval Gothic castle. Crimson Weigela (Weigela floribunda) that originates in China and Korea captivates us especially in the spring when it flowers in the meadow in front of the Sádkový pond. Large tulip trees (Liriodendron tulipifera) from North America that favor moist sites grow behind the stream. Beyond the bridge, the dramatic reds of the trilobate leaves of a group of low Nikko maples (Acer nikoense) catch our eye in the autumn. On the left side of the bridge the slender crown of Serbian spruce (Picea omorika) found by Josif Pančic in 1875 in what is today Montenegro stands out among the trees. The moist and waterlogged spots agree with rare herbs, two species of which, white skunk cabbage (Lysichiton camtschatcensis) and yellow skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), flower in the early spring sometimes even in the melted patches of snow in the meadows by the pond. The view over the Sádkový pond extends the so-called Peony Walk. It is one of the meadow vistas that are such an important architectural element of the Průhonice park.
Our path continues along the dam of the Podzámecký pond, where immediately our attention is drawn to a group of oaks, the native pendunculate oak (Quercus robur), North American pin oak (Quercus palustris), North American shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) and the Lebanon oak (Quercus libani). One of the most rare representatives of the North American species, the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) grows in the group of trees below the dam. The bald cypress has deciduous needles and prefers moist to waterlogged sites where it forms so-called root knees that stick up above the ground surface. On the right side of the dam we can see various species and cultivars of spruce: e.g., the snake branch spruce (Picea abies ‘Virgata’) with its long hanging branchlets with no or few lateral branches.
If we continue along the path we come to the Podemlejnský pond. The rocky hillside above the pond is full of rhododendrons growing in the spruce and Douglas fir stands. These rhododendrons are the white-flowering cultivar ‘Cunningham’s White’. They are the oldest rhododendrons planted in Průhonice about 100 years ago. If we go further along the path on the dam between the Podzámecký and Podemlejnský ponds we come to a wooden bridge. Here we can turn right and continue towards the inner part of the park or we can turn left and go around the alpine garden towards the part of the park known as Chotobuz. In the end, both paths lead us to a fork in the road where the two paths meet again.
The path that turns to the right takes us across a bridge to a meadow. On the left side on the bank of the pond we can find the huge crown and trunk of a European ash (Fraxinus excelsior). At the crossing on the right there is a group of copper beeches (Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’). Several species and cultivars of witch hazel (Hamamelidaceae) have been planted behind the beeches close to the water-lily pond. From here we can get a good view of the central part of the alpine garden with its log house. If we follow this path, we come to a small waterfall above Podemlejnský pond and then continue along the woods comprising mainly evergreens until we get to the end of the Peony Walk. The view from this side is dominated by over 30-m tall ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa), native to North America and the largest trees of this species in the Czech Republic. On the right side of the path behind the bench is the oldest dawn redwood tree (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) in the Czech Republic. It is known as the living fossil. Until the 1940s when a group of dendrologists discovered this tree growing in China, it was known only from fossil prints. Only after World War II was it grown from seed with seedlings being sent from China to various botanical gardens around the world. The shorter slope on the right side of the path attracts attention because of its colorfulness especially in the autumn. This is mainly from the red leaves of the common smokebush (Cosinus coggygria), whose original distribution area extends from southern Europe to the Himalayas. A bit farther on in the middle of the slope are rare examples of the Oriental spruce, a native to the Asian Caucuses and Taurus mountains.
The path to the left of the crossing at the wooden bridge leads us around the alpine garden. Above the path, a memorial plate has been placed in the rock to commemorate the park’s founder Count Arnošt Emanuel Silva-Tarouca. The oldest climbing hydrangeas (Hydrangea petiolaris) grow here above this memorial plate. We are now coming to another crossing at the bend of the stream. A bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) grows on the left side of the inflowing stream in the waterlogged soil. If we go to the left up along the Krausový pond we come to the part of the park known as Chotobuz. This part of the park forms the ridge that faces the castle. Mainly old oaks that grew here before the first rhododendrons were planted as undergrowth can be found here. From here we continue on to the main vista, one of the most attractive spots in the park. The scenery here is beautiful: a view through the flowering rhododendrons (in the spring), framed by the copper beeches (in the autumn) that ends with the silhouette of the castle above the pond. We can follow this path down along the ridge where there are the artificially constructed ruins of a gloriette.
At the crossing we come to another bridge where both of our paths meet again. The path to the right continues against the flow of the Botič Stream and the path to the left turns us back across the wooden bridge. Beyond the bridge the ground rises to a ridge that is overgrown with evergreens mixed with deciduous trees all the way to the Botič Stream. In the 19th century ruins of a gloriette were constructed on the top of the ridge. It is the only element of the late Romanticism wave that was integrated into the park in Průhonice. Today it is covered by greenery. Both paths border the valley meadows along the Botič Stream and its natural meanders that are an integral part of the park. A very rare meadow community, i.e., thistle meadow, which were the most typical meadow types in the valleys surrounding Prague still exists along the Botič Stream and its tributaries. The wetter meadows are dominated by the swampland meadows of tall sedgegrass and the drier higher sites in the valley and mainly the meadow areas along the paths are oat-grass meadows.
Here at this crossing we will end the first part of our walk through the extensive Průhonice Park. Another tour of both parts of the park could take several hours, even the entire day. 
                                                                Amended according the texts of ing. M. Roudné CSc. “Nature trail through the Průhonice Park” (Nature Protection Report of the Prague-West District VIII/5, 1987).