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A machine fitter for the roses

How Franz Rottensteiner became a gardener

Franz may speak and move slowly, but he also has an impulsive streak. ”Whenever I don’t know what to do, I prune,“ he says. Pruning is what Franz enjoys most. You can tell that by the pomegranate. Franz shakes his head: “At least it’s still alive!“

Minor slips aside, Franz Rottensteiner is a cautious man who listens to his plants and always comes back from holiday early. He would never forgive himself if someone forgot to water the garden while he was away.
Gardener Franz Rottensteiner in the old Greenhouse
Bolzano’s climate is between north and south
 
 
 

Never cut corners in the garden

Franz Rottensteiner can plant what he wants, and as much as he likes. ”The boss says I can be frugal at home. And I always plant too little anyway.“ His favourite plants are roses and lavender. Lavender because it grows well and is robust; roses for their fragrance and beauty. And because they come in all colours, and have a stubborn streak.

Franz looks up in admiration at the highest rose in the Alpine region. This thornless Climbing Banks Rose was supposed to adorn a pavilion, but clearly felt called to higher things and climbed the cedar tree instead. That was the beginning of a tender liaison that was continuously threatened by ivy. “We had to take out the ivy this year,“ says Franz. “It was too dangerous for visitors, and was choking the cedar tree”. The Banks Rose prevailed. ”Threesomes rarely work,“ says Franz with a shrug.
 

What do you think of football?

The roots of the Laurin Park go deep into the earth and back into history. In the mid 19th century, master tanner and crib carver Karl Moser created a park in the middle of Bolzano. The townspeople laughed at first, but are now happy his greenery survived – as the garden of Parkhotel Laurin. The Laurin Park in Bolzano is an English garden with impressive trees, exuberant flowers and shrubs, and quiet spots in which to enjoy coffee, aperitifs and fine food to the accompaniment of birdsong. And soon, the Greenhouse will be the most charming place in town to meet, with views out over the Park.

Hotel owner Franz Staffler used to use the park for other things. His first memory of the hotel is ”playing football in the park and annoying the guests.“ He still looks in nearly every day to admire and, occasionally, to plant. Many years ago, he planted the two giant redwoods with his own hands to mark the birth of his daughter. My, how they have grown.
 

Tidy or wild?

Franz the gardener and Franz the owner both love their garden – just in different ways. As they stroll through the park, they get talking ... ”Shall I take the ivy out up there?“ ”No, leave it as it is.“ ”What about the cherry laurel, shall I prune it a bit?“ ”I don’t think it needs it yet. What do you say – wait a couple of weeks?“ ”But how about those leaves over there – I could sweep them up, couldn’t I?“ ”They look nice as they are, Franz.“
 

Which Franz is right?

“The boss doesn’t like things too tidy,“ sighs gardener Franz Rottensteiner. Owner Franz Staffler wants his park to be a well-tended wilderness, so his gardener has to keep his inner perfectionist in check. Instead of sweeping up the leaves, he is learning to relax and let them be. Things are going well, he says: ”I haven’t killed a single plant so far.“ Although there was one close shave, he admits, glancing furtively at the pomegranate.

Every day, the gardener makes his round of the park. He has no fixed schedule, but there are quiet times. ”I can’t do much before 9 am,“ Franz explains, ”at least nothing noisy like mowing or leaf blowing.” Happily, Franz only needs to mow every five days. And those leaves can wait.

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Parkhotel Laurin
Bolzano,South Tyrol, ItalyVia Laurin 4Tel.: +39 0471 311 000 / Fax: +39 0471 311148

Opening hours

Breakfast
7 am – 10.30 am
Restaurant
closed until February, 10th
reduced menu at Salone delle Dame
Mon-Sat 
12 pm-2 pm ⁄ 7 pm-10.30 pm
Park Restaurant
opening in May
Reception
Open 24 / 7. Check in from 3 pm, check out by 12 pm

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