Garden of the Senses, Merzig. A small slice of paradise in the border triangle

Since opening in 2002 this leafy retreat on Kreuzberg hill in the Saarland has become an insider's tip for garden enthusiasts and anyone wanting a break from the hustle and bustle.

'Gardens without Limits' is a recently established project in the region where Germany, France and Luxembourg meet. The largest member is the Garden of the Senses in the small Saarland town of Merzig. Its eleven themed gardens within a succession of hedge-lined sections are laid out – as the name suggests – in a way that appeals to all the senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and even taste – because even flowers can be eaten. The theme of water, a vital element in any garden, is established by a geometric, modern-art sculpture right by the entrance to the garden. In the garden of sounds, you can create your own music using a variety of objects – or just listen to them playing in the wind. The garden of colours has flowers of every hue and illustrates the effects of combining different colours. The gravel garden, the largest of the gardens, has a special microclimate with sun-loving herbaceous perennials flowering profusely in the summer. In the touch garden, you are actually encouraged to touch the plants. Its pathways lead past closely arranged plantbeds offering a range of tactile experiences – from pin-sharp pine needles and prickly teasels to super-soft grasses. The rose garden is so peaceful and pretty that visitors are often reluctant to tear themselves away. The beauty of the flowers is enhanced by a pot-pourri of the sweetest fragrances which waft through the garden in the summer months. Cultural and culinary events, some held in the small amphitheatre, awaken the senses and bring people together, underlining precisely what makes the Garden of the Senses such an essential attraction. Nearby attractions: the Benedictine Abbey in Mettlach is still the headquarters of the famous Villeroy & Boch ceramics company. As the seasons change, so do the colours and forms of the Villeroy & Boch Abbey Garden with its many and diverse trees. The Old Tower, dating back more than 1,000 years, is the oldest religious building in the Saarland.

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Voor de ene is het een stukje Frankrijk in Duitsland, voor de andere is het een stukje Duitsland dat ook in Frankrijk niet zou misstaan. Wij houden het bij typisch Duits met een stevige Franse twist: Saarland. De kleinste Duitse deelstaat ging een paar keer over en weer tussen beide landen, was tweemaal op zichzelf en werd in 1957 definitief bij Duitsland ingelijfd. Het resultaat is een grensoverschrijdende kruisbestuiving van savoir-vivre en savoir-faire die zich vooral in de lokale gastronomie laat gelden. Wij trokken in Saarland letterlijk van de ene rijk gedekte tafel naar de andere, gingen er tafeltoeren en lieten ons galant overtuigen van het feit dat je van 'een schone tafel' wél kan eten.

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