If you take your time, there is a surprising variety of things to discover in the 18-hectare park, such as the magical rhododendron valley, the English garden, the protected dry grasslands, horticultural areas with rare vegetables, delicate snowdrops, clematis in all shapes and colours and Europe's largest collection of irises, with around 1,500 historic species. The Merian Gardens have been shaped by numerous individuals over the last century. Impressive architecture, listed manor houses and gardens steeped in history are all witnesses of an eventful past. Villa Merian, built in 1711, now houses the Café Merian. It's an excellent place to relax and has a wonderful view of the English garden. Fruit and vegetables from the gardens themselves – ripened in the sun, and picked especially for your dish – are also used here.