The Rose Mound

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The Landscape Park

When Jerôme, Count Herberstein began, after 1820, to transform the formal Baroque gardens into an English landscape park, he was following a very widespread fashion. Landscape gardening had become fashionable in Great Britain around a hundred years earlier as a stylish pastime for erudite gentlemen. It was seen as a lyrical concept, deeply rooted in Classical mythology and literature, not nature as such, but poetry become form.

Herberstein, in his turn, set about realising “a new world” at Eggenberg, “...a consummate landscape painting, recreating the diversity of Nature.”  His vision would become reality in the skilful hands of his head gardener, Franz Matern.  Despite difficult prevailing conditions, Matern succeeded within only a few years in transforming the side of the park nearest to the Palace into an English landscape garden. It was after 1833, however, that his masterpiece would be created: a vista point that functioned simultaneously as a rose garden. 

"Rose Mound"

Matern began works on his ‘Rose Mound’ in 1833. Three years later, a pathway would wind its way through dense areas of rose planting and conifers, until it reached the summit, which was crowned with an exotic parasol “in the Chinese style.” The delightful contrast between the evergreen conifers, on the shady side of the mound, and the luxurious splendour of the large expanses of rosebushes, whose period of flowering was extended by other perennial plants and flowering shrubs, was a new departure for gardening in Styria. For many decades, it remained the highlight of Eggenberg Park. It was only when the cost of maintenance became too high, that the mound was abandoned, and eventually allowed to run entirely to seed.

The Rose Mound over time

The Rose Mound 1841

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The Rose Mound 2010

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The Rose Mound in June

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The Rose Mound today

As part of the restoration project at Eggenberg Park, much of the garden’s original beauty has been recaptured over the last few years. In 2007/08 it became possible to restore in great detail this highlight of the park. Restorers were able to examine all the extant sources, including all the original catalogues from the Biedermeier period, from which plants had been ordered. This made it possible to reconstruct the original planting. Around 400 trees and shrubs, and 5,000 ornamental bulbs and perennial plants framed the true centre of the planting: approximately 350 old rose bushes, all of them varieties that had been introduced before 1835, whose names read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the early 19th century. Named after queens, duchesses and princesses, they present a glittering mix of long-forgotten rarities and of some of the most beautiful and best-known roses of all time.

The fascination for roses originated in France, where Empress Josephine amassed the most magnificent collection of roses in Europe in the gardens at the Château de Malmaison. The circle of gardeners, botanists and artists around her ensured that this ‘rose mania’ would be spread throughout Europe. The introduction of the Rosa chinensis had produced an enormous upsurge of interest in rose cultivation at the time. Talented breeders of the period managed to combine the magnificence of the old varieties of single-blooming roses with the repeat-blooming china rose, thus creating a whole array of new varieties of repeat-blooming plants.  Rose gardens were hugely popular in the early 19th century, and they would find a highly individual manifestation in Herberstein’s Rose Mound at Eggenberg.

When the old roses are in bloom (from the end of May until June), they are the highlight of the garden. The Park offers special guided tours on the history of the roses and their maintenance.