Wow, the last 8 weeks have been a little busy!!! We are now back in the Garden State and happy to be home. Of course we already miss the lakes, mountains and wonderful friends we made in Bavaria but life is good for us right now, right here. We are still living without our household items (held up at customs?) which includes (among a 1000 other things) my garden tools and furniture. So now is my chance to slowly take in the state of the garden I left behind four years ago, seeing what has grown (or not) and what I’m missing. Surprisingly this list is not as long as I feared but there is much work to be done as any gardener will tell you.
But before leaving Munich I did have a chance to visit the display gardens of the Weihenstephan agricultural college. This scientific teaching garden was a nineteenth century villa garden and is now a public park. It includes habitat-based plant combinations with drifts of herbaceous perennials, a rock garden and water garden. It’s all on a small scale but it surprised me to see these habitats so similar to what can grow in New Jersey. Although… not sure I would see someone with hair to match the flowers of canna in my back yard. Look closely and see if you can find her!
The Alhambra and Generalife gardens in Granada, Spain are the most famous examples of Moorish garden style (and also the most visited). However, like the palaces around which they were built, they have been altered over many centuries. The exterior of the palaces have remained plain and austere and the column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools are used to add to the aesthetic and functional complexity. As a garden designer one hopes to be fortunate enough to make a pilgrimage here once in a lifetime…
We’re drowning here in Southern Germany! The past four weeks it has rained non-stop and at the check-out counter of my local gardening center almost everyone in line included a box of slug bait. Yes, it’s very green but even if it were to stop raining, the garden is inaccessible due to extreme slugginess!
Amazing to contrast this with the dry Southern Spanish climate we recently visited where water is the central feature of most of the designed gardens. It’s difficult to imagine we would desire the sound of water here but a pond seems like a good idea to house some predators for those slugs. But as garden fashion goes…crucial in the design of any ‘water feature’, is the sound of the trickle. Without being too descriptive, you don’t want it to sound ‘human’ unless it is the point of the feature (think: Manneken Pis).
Here are some examples of quiet, meditative water gardens;
The Alcazar Palace gardens in Seville are a true paradise within a bustling city. No wonder the Spanish royals still stay here when visiting! The gardens combine both Islamic elements (water fountains, rills, and geometric tile) and Renaissance elements (hedges and parterres). Although construction of the site began in 913 AD the gardens obviously date to a much more recent time.
With so many ‘garden rooms’ within, it was surprisingly easy to find a quiet space away from the hundreds (!) of strolling visitors and I was able to photograph some unobstructed views.
Writing about trees typical of the Andalusian landscape (see post on orange trees), we encountered a lot of cork trees (quercus Suber or Cork oak) on our journey. These are especially interesting after the recent harvest which shows the red bark underneath in stark contrast with the gray bark remaining.