Thursday, September 20, 2012

Botanical gardens and natural plant communities

A primary incentive to visit gardens in Germany and the Netherlands was to see the gardens inspired by nature, created in public spaces.

But an unexpected pleasure (on my first garden visiting day) has been the wonderful collections of native plants in naturalistic plant community plantings in two University botanical gardens. The first I visited was in Osnabruck, where I was a post doc almost thirty years ago.

The Professor in my lab group had come from Munster (~ 45 minutes away), where a venerable botanical garden is also part of the university. Part of his job was to establish a botanical garden in the old quarry adjoining the relatively new University in Osnabruck. I didn't ever see the site, so it was a revelation to visit today and enjoy the 25+ years of plantings. I guess I should have expected the careful curation and attention to detail, but the wonderful "recreation" of habitats was amazing.

It's late now, and having experiences is the point of traveling (not sitting in your hotel room writing and trying to upload photos), so there will be more later. (I'm traveling light with an iPad, a camera connector, and a wireless keyboard!) So the photo interface is clunky (uh, I took 140 photos today, including quite a few of signs and cool created pollinator habitats and bat refuges).

I've been mulling over how remarkable these natural habitat-based plant collections are. Similar collections were in Munster, the second garden I visited. A much older garden, the moor habitat was my favorite, although their alpine collections, and meadow plantings were amazing, too. It was so interesting how the garden editing (think weeding and maintenance) differed even in their herb garden plantings. The plant community gardens were a joy to visit -- I just wish I had time to find and visit some of the real-life examples (probably not that common now).
My lab director was a plant ecologist, so it's not surprising in retrospect that these gardens have such a strong plant ecological bent, and German botanical studies have had a focus on plants in their communities for a long time.
Tomorrow, I'm off to Piet and Anya Oudolf's private garden. I'm really looking forward to seeing what's in their personal landscape, especially post-closing their nursery.
Also, I haven't yet gone into one, but some of the "garden centers" here in Northern Germany are the size of a Home Depot. They're usually in the neighborhood of IKEA stores and car dealerships (eg. outskirts of town). I don't know what's in them yet, but I'm planning to check one out. Pots? Decorations? Fields of plants for your garden? Potting mix? Stayed tuned.


Osnabruck botanical garden:
alpine garden in Osnabruck


Moor garden (Munster botanical garden)


1 comment:

Please share your thoughts with me. I always enjoy hearing from fellow gardeners and nature observers of all sorts, as well as whomever else drops by.

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