A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I decided to sign up for a guided tour of the botanical gardens in Graz at night. I had been to the gardens a couple of times by day, but it was the first time that I saw them in darkness. Seeing how all the plants live during the dark hours was very interesting.
If you are visiting Graz and do not know what to do besides the usual sightseeing spots, the botanical gardens are a great place to go! Especially in winter, it’s a joy to be in the tropical house. On Sundays, the gardens are open to visitors.
2019 is in a particular a great year to pay a visit to the botanical gardens in Graz, as they celebrate 130 years anniversary in Schubertstrasse. There are many events going on, mainly in German though, but here you can find a broschure with more info.
Botanical gardens in Graz: overview
There have been botanical gardens in Graz since 1811, but they were once in the centre of the city. Due to the development of the city centre, in 1811 the gardens found a new home in Schuberstrasse. The newest greenhouse building was inaugurated in 1995 and is open for visitors all year round. Furthermore, the original building is now under restoration. It should be open again in the near future for visitors.
The greenhouse is built in a way that it allows 98% of light transmission. There are 4 areas: the tropical house, the temperate house, the cold house and the succulent area. This means that the plants are not placed according to their location on earth, but they are planted in their respective temperature zone. In the succulent area, for example, you can find plants from the Africa as well as central America.
The group divided into two and we followed our guides around the botanical gardens. The groups went in different directions so not to bump into each other. Since it was nighttime and winter, some of the houses (like the cold and temperate house) were pretty cold, so a jacket was necessary.
The tour of the botanical gardens
Armed with a flashlight, our tour guide (a student from KFU), showed us around and gave us tidbits of information about the different plants in the gardens. She showed us how sleeping plants with closed leaves would open them when pointed at with a flashlight.
I also found out that in the botanical gardens in Graz there is the ugliest plant in the world! It is made up of two leaves which grow in length like long strands of curly hair. Furthermore, that the succulents in Africa and the ones in central America are different in the way they look. Did you know that in many cartoons they draw the wrong type of cactus? The greenhouse is home also to plenty edible plants, like citrus trees, vanilla, cinnamon, coffee and rice.
The tour took about 1 hour and cost €8, and for me it was worth every penny. If you are interested in plants and would like to have a unique experience, doing a guided tour at night in the botanical gardens should be on your list. The next appointment for 2019 is on 15th February.