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History of the Botanical Garden Münster

The garden in the 19th century

In 1797 a chair of natural history is established (botany) at the medical department by the at that time quite young university of Münster. The general practitioner Franz Wernekinck (1764 – 1839) is appointed to hold that chair. For the fact that he has almost no access to teaching material and visual aids one searches for an adequate location for a Hortus botanicus. Here the baronial–episcopal residence garden lends itself to that purpose. The baron of Stein (Freiherr von Stein) who even is quite well-known beyond the country’s borders and who is the supreme government official and representative of Prussia in Westphalia, supports this project and therefore the establishment of a botanical garden is decreed in 1803.

Postcard (around 1880): View of the rear side of the palace

Postcard (around 1880): View of the rear side of the palace

Many initiatives and conceptions for a new garden are based on it’s director, Prof. Wernekinck. Already in 1804 the first arboriums are set up. On from the beginning the garden is designed to be a garden for teaching and researching. However, as well in the beginning as during later periods financial problems keep occurring from time to time which partly have to be solved by a busy trade with plants which in return has an impact on the main tasks in the garden. The first existential crisis already arises in 1806 when Westphalia is occupied by French troops. The political rechanges after the Vienna congress in 1815 and the profound reorganisation of the university that has far-reaching consequences leads to a conceptional change of the botanical garden in which now it should be preferred to grow domestic plants.

After Wernewinck there are relatively frequent changes concerning the holding of the chair of the botanical garden. Fortunately this circumstance is compensated by the gardener (who is comparable with the technical head today) Bernhard Revermann who adds continuity to the garden for more than 50 years – from 1817 to 1869. Due to him the botanical gardes releases it’s first seed-catalogue in 1827. Furthermore Revermann is as well responsible for the whole place garden including the long-existing fishery in the palace moat as for the commercial tree nursary. During his period of time the orangery is set up in 1840 which today is a listed building.

Postcard around 1899

Postcard around 1899

Prof. Dr. Theodor Nitschke (1834 – 1883) is the first botanist become director of the botanical garden. It is due to him that a new palm-tree house is set up in 1878. Nitschke is the first one to focus very much on public relations and by this he achieves among other things that the busy trade with plants is forced back. Meanwhile Hugo Heidenreich in 1871 (– 1911), who later becomes the Royal gardening inspector, has taken over the shortly staffed job of the gardener by Revermann jun. His main interest is the alpinum. The successor of Nitschke is Prof. Dr. Oskar Brefeld who assumes control over the botanical garden in 1884. He is able to set up earlier than planned a small lecture hall behind today’s bromeliads’ house in 1887/1888. Later this lecture hall is reconstructed to be the gardener’s accommodation and today it serves as a seminar room. During his incumbency the new building of the Institute of Botanics at the southern side of the garden is made. The spatial extent of the garden is not being impaired by this.

1900 to 1980s

Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Zopf succeeds Brefeld in 1899 as the director of the institute and of the botanical garden. After his early death in 1909 the most well-known botanist and rediscoverer of Mendel’s rules (together with Vries and von Tschermak-Seysenegg), Prof. Dr. Carl Erich Correns (1864 – 1933), takes over his direction in Münster. He intensively uses the botanical garden for his experiments on hybridisation. After five years in Münster he heads off to become the director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut in Berlin.

Postcard around 1905

Postcard around 1905

In 1913 he managed to make the gardener Georg Ludewig to work for the botanical garden, who had the position of the garden inspector and he remained in this position until the end of the 2nd worldwar. His whole period of service was characterised by problems that came with the two worldwars and also with the time of inflation. However, in 1915 it comes to an exceptional fruitful collaboration for the further development and the rearrangement of the botanical garden between him and Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Wilhelm Benecke (1868 – 1946). These gainings are awarded by the university with the installation of their two head-reliefs on the in 1935 new built and still today existing tropical centre. Benecke and on from 1935 his successor Prof. Dr. Walter Mevius (1893 – 1975) already have to deal with plans for a new location for the botanical garden which are, however, not transferred into reality.

The Botanical Garden around 1928

The Botanical Garden around 1928

While the destructions of the botanical garden caused by the 1st worldwar are more likely due to the shortage of money a complete destruction of the arboriums, of the roof of the orangery and of the whole infrastructure just like heating installations and irrigation, is caused at the end of the 2nd worldwar by the same as well as most serious devastations by direct impacts of the war in the garden area. The consequence of this is the loss of almost all plants that are in need of arboriums in order to grow. Due to the unselfish commitment in special of Ludewig some very precious plants like the cycadees can be prevented from destruction. After the end of the war courses are given in the palm-tree house and in the orangery after the Institute of Botany had been destroyed completely in 1944.

By 1949 already 5 arboriums can be rebuilt and made accessible for the public. This rapid reconstruction and the further remediation of the botanical garden is closely linked with the names of Prof. Dr. Siegfried Strugger (1906 – 1961) and the head inspector of the garden Walter Stephan (working for the garden from 1947 – 1960). For the first time ecological aspects are being regarded by the establishment of characteristical types of landscape like heath, moor and dune. Due to both of them is the fact that already in 1952 the state of the botanical garden before the war is achieved again. Even the more than 200 years old orange trees have survived the war and carry a lot of fruits.

Council Hans-Dieter Oberdieck (working for the garden from 1960 – 1988) is especially keen on the collection of succulents because of his south Africa experience.

The farmers garden (Photo: T. Albers)

The farmers garden (Photo: T. Albers)

Since the setting up of a professorship for plant systematics at the Institute of Botany in 1974 the following job holders are working on the development of the botanical garden beside the respective directors of the institute (director of the institute Prof. Dr. Erwin Latzko from 1977 – 1989): Prof. Dr. Herbert Hurka (in Münster from 1974 – 1982) who rearranges the plant system and his successor Prof. Dr. Focke Albers (in Münster since 1984) who mainly contributes to the setting up of the farmer’s garden in 1984.

1990s to 2003

In 1988 Oberdieck is followed by the council Dipl. Land. Dipl. Geo. Herbert Voigt who becomes the technical executive. Because of the changing of the administrative structures of the university the following professors are made managerial directors of the Institute of Botany and the botanical garden in the following period of time: Prof. Dr. Paul Tudzynski, Prof. Dr. Engelbert Weis and Prof. Dr. Bernd Gerhardt. During this period of time new ecological main focusses that correspond to Voigts ideas are made by the setting up of a lime neglected grassland and of a lime moor, the construction of a stream course with a synthetic source and a wild grassland. The opening of the tactile and scent garden is made in 1993.

The tactile and scent garden (Photo: T. Albers)

The tactile and scent garden (Photo: T. Albers)

A newly built pavilion is erected as a visitor’s lounge. The "Fördererkreis Botanischer Garten der Universität Münster e.V." has mainly helped with the financing of the new outdoor areas.

In order to attach a more constant leadership to the botanical garden, Prof. Dr. Focke Albers is made head of the botanical garden in 1994. In the following period of time some ecological areas (highmoor, heath and dune) are rearranged or furtheron completed. The already earlier begun conceptional changing of the arborium areas is completed by the establishment of expositional collections that are similar to biotopes, like Central America with it’s cacti, the Canary Islands and the winter humid areas of south Africa with it’s incredible diversity of species. Since 1996 tropical useful plants are grown in the Victoria house for the visitor. The most profound changes are made in 1997 in the former palm-tree house which is remodeled by a new thematical focus into a tropical centre (focussing on tropes of the old world) and gives the impression to the visitor as if standing in a jungle.

The Succulents’ house (Photo: T. Albers)

The Succulents’ house (Photo: T. Albers)

In 1998/1999 the outdoor area in front of the tropical gallery is metamorphed into a mediterranean oasis. Here in the frost free time of the year are grown bigger plants like orange-, olive- and pomegranate-trees, which remain in the orangery during the winter – integrated amongst lavender and grapevines. The most big restructuring measure in the outdoor area is following in 2001/2002 with the setting up of a new system of plants according to the newest scientific results on the history derivation of seed plants. By the bounteous donation of the pharmaceutical company Spitzner AG the attractiveness of the garden for students and visitors had been increased for another time by the new installation of an area with medicinal plants in 2005.

The new installation of the plant system

The new installation of the plant system

By the support of the university’s administration, of the promotion group and further sponsors it had been made possible in the recent years to intensify the public relations and to introduce the botanical garden to Münster’s citizens and to those of the surrounding areas as an area of interaction with science. In the last years Mrs. Stud. Ass. Birgit von Winterfeld and Mrs. Dipl. Biol. Andrea Hein got themselves involved with this in special. Currently Mr. Dipl. Lök. Joachim Röschenbleck is worling on this.

The already achieved results concerning strategy, restructuring, execution and the care – and this can be followed throughout the last 200 years – are only to be achieved by a successful collaboration and the commitment of all garden workers.

References

  • LATZKO, E. 1980. Geschichte der Botanik an der Universität Münster. In: Die Universität Münster, 1780 - 1980. 463 - 466. Aschendorff, Münster.
  • REJEK, Ch. 1988. Aufbau und Bedeutung des systematischen Abteilungen in Botanischen Gärten unter besonderer Berücksichtigung des Münsterschen Botanischen Gartens. Schriftl. Hausarbeit im Rahmen der Ersten Staatsprüfung für das Lehramt für die Sekundarstufe II im Fach Biologie (Arbeitsgruppe Prof. Albers). Münster.
  • WIERMANN, R. 2003. Der Botanische Garten der Universität Münster. 200 Jahre Geschichte. Landwirtschaftsverlag Münster.
  • Archiv - Botanischer Garten der WWU

Quicklinks

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Opening hours

Opened daily (Mon - Sun)
(including all holidays)
Admission free

Winter (10/29/2016 - 3/24/2017):
Open areas and greenhouses: 9:00 - 16:00

Summer (3/25/2017 - 10/15/2017):
Open areas and greenhouses: 8:00 - 19:00

The closure of the garden will be announced by the ringing of a bell.

We are sorry, but there are no dogs or bicycles allowed inside the botanical garden.



About | © 2011 WWU Münster
Botanischer Garten der Universität Münster
Schlossgarten 3 · 48149 Münster
Tel.: +49 251 83-23827 · Fax: +49 251 83-23800
E-Mail: botanischer.garten at uni-muenster.de