Is this man crazy? If you don’t know robert von susskind, you’ll be taken aback the first time you meet him. The baron speaks faster than weeds grow. He has eyes that are so light blue they make the female-blue summer sky look like a dark thundercloud. Baron robert von susskind is also known as gruner baron. He has created an unparalleled landscape park on his estate of dennenlohe castle in central franconia.
Unterschwaningen is completely remote in the french pampas. But suddenly a pond, a farm and a castle appear: dennenlohe. The symmetrical baroque building is owned by the eighth generation of the von susskind family.
"I was the oldest apprentice
"Would you like to take a quick look at the garden before dinner??", asks the landlord for burial. And off we go: a fast-paced course through susskind’s garden world, feeling like a gallop through a dream landscape in the evening light. It begins with a labyrinth and an adjoining maze of thuja trees. "The labyrinth has many wrong ways, while the maze is a continuous path", the baron quickly explains as he passes by.
But dennenlohe does not present a baroque garden as in the 17th century. Century, but a landscape park of the 21st century. With many different individual areas. They reflect the partly crazy ideas of the gardener. There are, for example, four giant standing stones on a mini peninsula in a small pond, the "ochsensuhle", positioned to frame a park bench. Already it goes up a hill. The master of the house strides ahead.
Until a few years ago, the 26-hectare landscape park was still arable land. Since 1990, the "green baron" has been digging, shoveling, and excavating on this heavy ground. He transformed the flat field into a designed landscape. For this purpose he even artificially planted hills. In the beginning there was no fixed plan, everything developed little by little. The frenchman started with the rhododendron park. "We now have 500 varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas", the baron pays up. Red, pink, violet shine their blood.
Robert von susskind hurries on through his garden kingdom. Here and there he briefly throws plant names into the evening air. "This is a black-flowered conigmas, here grows a rare chrysanthemum aster, there acanthus." He is also familiar with the latin names of plants. The 63-year-old has completed a gardener’s apprenticeship. After studying economics in st. Gallen, earning his money as a real estate agent, and finally starting to work in the park, he decides to do an apprenticeship at the age of 52. "I was the oldest apprentice."
High point in the park is the bhutan mountain. Colorful buddhist prayer flags waving in the wind. A real temple from bhutan is enthroned on the mound. The garden designer has transplanted it from the himalayas into the french landscape. Time to dream with a view of the vast garden, park and forest landscape. A prairie plain full of lupines opens up, with meadows, a woolgrass stump and a slope with cacti and agaves. In the cinema, someone always comes galloping up at the sight of a prarie.
And indeed – just like in the movies – the baroness rides up on a spanish andalusian horse. Without her nothing works on dennenlohe. While the baron, as a noble gardener in rubber boots, mows, sows and plants on his own, sabine von susskind takes care of the marketing and events in the private castle park.
Through the round, fiery red moon gate we enter the private garden. The peacock of the present cries and turns a wheel. Finally, an overgrown staircase leads steeply up to the castle. And the baron disappears. "I’ll quickly put the whole thing in the barn", he says, turns the corner, and beckons a couple in french with "allez"! Allez!"