The Folly Arboretum is located on the northern shore of Lake Balaton, in Badacsonyörs, which can rightly be called a real fairy garden.
The demonstration arboretum also has a nursery, forest, vineyards, and associated winery. In addition to the botanical values of the 3.6-hectare area, it also has landscape, cultural-historical, and geological values.
The Folly Arboretum is a real all-day program where you can spend a wonderful day in the lap of nature in a variety of ways.
The history of Folly Arboretum
The creation, care, and continuous development of the arboretum is linked to the four generations of the Folly family.
Dr. Gyula Folly was the first to plant exotic shrubs from abroad on the hillside in the early 1900s. This small area where work began that year, at just 0.4 acres, now forms the core of the Folly Arboretum.
There is a giant pine which was the first to be found in the country. Specifically, they were looking for species that could withstand the climate of Lake Balaton well and also tolerate drought.
He brought plants mainly from Mediterranean regions and also contacted several nurseries in Western Europe. Over time, he planted more than 100 plants and brought water from Lake Balaton on a donkey.
Later, the death of the founder, and then WWI, stopped the development of the arboretum for a while. Between the two world wars, the family tried to keep the small arboretum alive, but development came to a halt.
In the 1950s, the Folly Arboretum got under state hands, but the son of the founder continued to plant exotics there. Later, the settled area also grew and a nursery was placed next to the Old Arboretum.
After the change of regime, the family repurchased the area and later declared it a highly protected area. Over the years, the arboretum has developed a lot: it has also became a home to special plant species, herbs, vineyards, and a nursery.
Sights in the Folly Arboretum
The arboretum is open all year round, and the tour takes roughly 1.5 hours, but it also depends on how closely you look at everything. At the Folly Arboretum with its special atmosphere, you can feel all the strength and love and work of a family.
Special rare plants
Not only is it worth visiting here because of the special cypresses and cedars, but also because of the delicious local wines, homemade syrups, and the wonderful panorama of Lake Balaton.
The Old Arboretum, or the “core,” stretches over the vineyard, on the rocky part, which is already 110 years old. Together with the forest adjoining the area, nearly 400 species of pine and 200 deciduous trees and shrubs live here.
Furthermore, all 25 cypress species of the world and three variants are also included here. There is the real Mediterranean cypress and Arizona cypress with gray foliage, but rarer species are also in the arboretum, such as the American MacNab cypress.
As we explore the arboretum, a number of boards illustrated with artistic images help us learn more about the plants—especially about special and rare species.
The arboretum, which has now grown to several hectares, has been declared a highly protected area since 1997 thanks to the National Park. This is not surprising when you look at the many different individual species introduced from Asia, Canada, and other exotic locations.
The main attraction of the arboretum is a pinecone-like lookout tower rising above the foliage. Fortunately, it is easy to climb, as there are not many stairs.
When we get up, get ready to see the amazing sight. A beautiful panorama unfolds before our eyes. We can observe the sailing boats on the turquoise Lake Balaton, the vineyards, and the houses that look tiny from above.
From here we have a wonderful panorama of the Lake Balaton mountains. If we look toward Lake Balaton, we can see the flat hilltop of Badacsony to the right, where the best wines of the region come from.
Special wines and syrups of the Folly Arboretum
Not only is it worth visiting here because of the wonderful plants and the environment, but also because of the wines. Work is underway on a 7-acre site close to the Folly Arboretum, where delicious wines also come from.
Kisörsi Hill provides a really good breeding ground for the vineyards. The main varieties here are pinot gris, ottonel muscat, blue-stemmed, Rhine Riesling, Buda green, and Italian Riesling.
If you are already there and like good wines, I definitely recommend tasting the fruity-flavored “Boróka” (Juniper), which is the result of a blend of nutmeg, Italian Riesling, and pinot gris. Also “Cédrus” is outstanding, which was born by blending Italian Riesling and pinot gris.
But we can still find many great varieties here, all made from local grapes. A glass of fine nectar and a wonderful environment prove to be an amazingly good pairing.
Of course, it is not only alcoholic beverages that are worth tasting here, but also divine homemade syrups. The sweet taste of the fruits of the Balaton Uplands, the local flowers, and the aroma of the garden also combine in these naturally made syrups.
The homemade drinks, both with additives and with no added colours, can be enjoyed several times in all seasons.
In summer, cypress, lemon, and lavender flavors dominate, while in winter, cinnamon and ginger flavors are the winners. One of the most special is the pine syrup, which may seem bizarre at first. It is cooked every April from the shoots of the characteristic pines of the arboretum.
And if we’ve already had a drink, we can’t pass up the restaurant here either. The Folly Restaurant and Grill Terrace always serves seasonal barbecue dishes.
In addition, burgers, coffee specialties, cakes, and of course the aforementioned syrups and wines can also be found on the menu.
Opened in spring 2019, the restaurant is in the former home of the Folly family. The rustically furnished building blends in perfectly with the landscape and surroundings, giving an authentic atmosphere to it. Here we can taste real dishes of today and local delicacies.
Eco playground for the little ones
The Folly Arboretum has a place for the little ones as well, making it an ideal relaxing place for the whole family. The shady trees provide natural cool places to relax, while children can have fun on the spacious wooden playground.
While younger and older kids both are sure to find the right toy for them, parents can relax in a comfortable deck chair for a bit.
The little ones are greeted by a real eco-playground: slides, nest swings, a squirrel wheel, and an exciting cable car, overlooking the magnificent Lake Balaton.
There is even a metal slide built into the park. From here, a row of planks leads to the already mentioned central area, the old pine trees of the Old Arboretum.
The Folly Arboretum is a wonderful example of family reunion, and although history has put the Folly family to the test several times, they have never let go of their dreams.
And how well they did. Today we can enjoy this arboretum full of wonderful natural features and special plant species all year round. Amazing views, proximity to Lake Balaton, exotic plants, good wines and food: this is how many people imagine Paradise. Yet this is none other than the Folly Arboretum.