Sunday, September 30, 2012

A kitchen garden seen on the road

I turned around and went back to take a picture of this vegetable and flower garden in the Neckar Valley ( traveling between the Schwarzwald and Rothenburg ob der Tauber (a wonderfully well-preserved and reconstructed medieval town.)

Check out the solar hot water panels sheltering the wood pile, with additional panels probably supplying energy for heat ! (This would also be via hot water, I think - there are modern hot water radiator units everywhere I've been during this trip.

With extensive solar panels everywhere, I've been wondering about what exactly they're powering. I passed an Aldi grocery today which had an entire roof of solar panels - presumably that's electricity for the whole store, but I'll need to do some research about this when I get home. Solar is so much more prevalent here - on farm buildings, residences, commercial buildings, etc. along with centralized stations with multiple panels.

And it's interesting, too, to see wind turbines in all sorts of places, some of them quite unlikely.

On another topic, I've been seeing lovely fields of leeks, so I was glad to see these in this garden, too.

A kitchen garden near Horb am Neckar
A kitchen garden near Horb am Neckar
A nice row of leeks

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Schwarzwald sunset

Here's a favorite experience today, seeing the sunset after a largely overcast day.

View toward Schoenwald

A full moon was already visible


Forest floor

Friday, September 28, 2012

Traveling into the Schwarzwald



Hard not to like!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Freiburg market at Munsterplatz

One of my favorite places in Freiburg was the almost daily market in the Munsterplatz (during the 2 months I was there - language school for all of us DAAD fellowship folks - we were from all over the world, another great experience from long ago.)

I was so glad both to still find the market in full swing, but also all the wonderful vegetables, plants, etc. looking great. A few were unfamiliar ( a tomatillo relative, another Physalis) had me stumped. Was it sweet? Did you cook it? I wished I'd asked, but the vendor looked a bit stern!

A variety of herbs
Fresh raspberries and strawberries


Great-looking radishes and beets
Organic apples

Wild mushrooms for sale
An attractive flower stand

Lots of plants for sale, too.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Traveling from Heidelberg to Munstertal

Somehow I've bumbled into a fabulous Schwarzwald destination outside of Freiburg for a couple of days. Hotels & vacation apartments in Freiburg are hard to book at the last minute on weekends, so I'd had to look outside the city.

Munstertal view
Down Munstertal
But I managed to find a wonderful small hotel next to a centuries-old cloister (still active) in a incredibly beautiful valley. I had no idea when I booked yesterday. It's totally lovely.

Cloister in Munstertal
I've been admiring all sorts of public plantings in round-abouts and in commercial spaces, too, along the way. Here are a few of them.

Roundabout planting in Germany
Entrance to a commerical area
Metal planters at entrance to a business

Monday, September 24, 2012


This is a totally amazing garden - what they've done with our North American natives in naturalistic plantings is remarkable. (Click on the images for a larger view).

Perennial bed, Hermannhof
another view
Here are just a few images. The Blogsy/Photogene/Blogspot interface on an iPad isn't as easy as blogging at home at my desktop or my laptop!

Prairie-inspired perennial planting

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Technical difficulties

Blogsy and Blogspot didn't let me (completely) edit my last post, but I was finally able to change a few things.  I hope you get the idea! Who knows where the formatting came from... It was a spectacular garden.

First thoughts about Piet and Anja Oudolf's garden

I knew I'd like this garden, but I was overwhelmed. It was extraordinary. I couldn't believe how creative the juxtaposition of textures, shapes, and colors were, and the way senescing plants were part of it- amazing.
The Joe-Pye and Vernonia were in full flower and all of the grasses were in their glory, either golden or on their way.
I visited on a perfect morning, cool and fresh, with a bright clear light, and I'm glad that I hadn't made it late yesterday, so I was able to experience the garden with fresh eyes.
Anja was there to greet visitors, and when I said I was American, replied that Piet was currently at the High Line (it's on my list to visit).
The gardens encompass an old farm site with a modern house, with the former nursery area converted to a spectacular created/artistic meadow planting. The older garden in the front of their property had amazing complexity with texture and colors, confined by the formality of beech hedge and clipped yews, and the structure of the garden paths.
Needless to say, looking at my photos on an iPad just confirm what a wonderful garden that this is, but don't give me much scope to really look at the images I managed to capture. Sorting will need to wait until I'm at home again.
I'm so glad that I was able to experience a visit in person. The way that Oudolf designs with plants (a great many of them eastern and central North American natives, but not exclusively at all) definitely honors their qualities as plants going through their life cycle. I'm going to read his book on that subject again, written with Noel Kingsbury, when I get back home.
2-yr old planting on old nursery site
Grasses and Forbes with house in background
Joe-pye and other in front garden
Textural contrasts
There will be more thoughts as I reflect on this garden. What a great gift for them to open their private garden to visitors on weekends from August through fall, and in early summer.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Mien Ruys garden

The collection of small gardens created by the influential Dutch garden designer at her family's nursery now make up the public garden open to visitors. Some of the gardens are truly remarkable, all are interesting.
It was well worth the trek (long drive, really) through countryside that seemed an odd mix of agriculture and industry, at least to my eyes, and wasn't as "pretty" as the countryside around Munster and Osnabruck.
'Corner garden'

Another angle of the same garden
This was the Corner Garden (one of about 27 in total, I think, I lost count). It was totally amazing, and I've not seen anything quite like it in my many years of garden visiting. The way that the layers were constructed with the Verbena bonariensis rising above the layers, with the sedum and Thalictrum in the corners- quite magical.

These photos aren't even close to evoking what it really felt like. Magical.

Her gardens were filled with our North American natives - I'm sure this will become a pattern.

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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)

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Views out the front door

Female goldfinch gleaning seed
I spent the morning cleaning up the last of the beans and squash from my vegetable beds in the mountains.

I won't be back for several weeks, although my gardening companion will be as well as the folks who keep an eye on things, etc., so I wanted to tidy up the garden.

Echinacea fruits

view through the front door

The joy of the morning, aside from satisfaction in getting the beds cleaned up, was how fun the pocket meadow was!  Talk about lively.

First, a female goldfinch was gleaning seeds from Echinacea fruits that are already looking scruffy.

Then, a monarch dropped by to visit Aster flowers.

monarch on Aster 'October Skies'
And in between, a hummingbird whizzed by on her way to a Salvia flower.  What fun!

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Long-horned beetles (mating) on goldenrod


Long-horned beetles
A wonderful excursion to a private garden capped off (for me) a delightful experience at the Highlands Native Plant symposium. Great folks and an excellent native plant garden - what could be nicer! A great cause to contribute to, for sure.

A meadow visit found a couple of long-horned beetles mating - on a goldenrod inflorescence, pointed out by a biologist friend who was along on the field trip. Way cool!