Well, this is a bit of an unusual topic for someone to blog about on a Walking Tours of Dresden website, but it is a subject that has interested me since I decided to make Dresden my home almost 15 years ago.
Let me start with a little background information about myself. Before I moved to Dresden, I had been living in one of the biggest urban jungles in the world, New York City. I was working as a historic preservationist and I was overall quite happy about many things in my life there. One thing though, was that I secretly yearned for regular contact with plain old dirt in the form of a garden. My fire escape just wasn’t enough. Community gardens were in a nascent form then and, if the winds of fate had not blown differently, I may have ended up becoming active in one.
Still, as life would have it, I ended up in Dresden and integrated myself into the life here as quickly as possible. One thing that had fascinated me even before I started to live here permanently were these large garden communities throughout the city, not only in Dresden, but in all German cities. They were a bit like the community gardens that were starting to come to life in NY, but much, much bigger and older and much, much more established. Clearly, things were going on in the urban gardening world here that I did not know enough about.
Another thing that I noticed is that these Germans really have a knack for gardening!! I had learned about French gardens (symmetry, topiary arts, perfect hedges and fountains) vs. English gardens (naturalesque, rolling landscapes, flowering annuals and ponds), but nothing about German gardens. They were beautiful and if you talked to the gardeners, they knew so much. These gardens were full of blooming annuals, but also fruit trees, bushes and other plants that produce yummy things. They called their gardens “Bauerngarten” (farmer’s gardens) and the gardens are used not just to pick flowers for the vases or to stroll through, but to live in and enjoy all aspects of life in.
Since then, whenever I have anyone come visit who I think has the slightest feel for nature, I try to drag them through some of these gardens. Some of them have little beer gardens (Of course! We are in Germany after all) and even restaurants. No one I have brought through one of these has failed to be impressed. Sometimes, I think how neat it would be to organize a tour of the Schrebergardens (as they are called). I’ve researched them a bit and the history of urban gardening in Germany is rich and long. I think it would be fascinating. Now all I need it the impetus to do it, so if anyone is interested in having a tour, let me know, and I will get to work!!
Contributed by Karen Reimann
PS: Dresden Walks is happy to reasearch and design new tours. Just let us know!