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Beiträge des Open Calls und spezielle Features zu Gärten und Naturgebieten von nah und fern.

Der Blumenmarkt Taipehs liegt im Schutze einer Überführung knapp 100 Meter von Daan Park. Es ist Sonntag, doch das Gedränge hält sich in Grenzen und wird mit Pfeilen am Boden in die entsprechende Laufrichtung dirigiert. Also erst rechts alles ablaufen, dann links. Hastiges Überwechseln führt zu ein wenig Konfusion, geht aber auch. Was es hier nicht alles gibt: Wasserdampfmaschinen, Düngemittel, Gartenwerkzeuge, Erden, Aquaristik-Bedarf, junge Hunde (in rosa Käfigen), Sämereien, Gefäße aller Art und natürlich Blumen und Pflanzen für Haus und Garten, vorwiegend letztere.

Das erste, was mir allerdings auffällt, ist die vergleichsweise Stille zum Londoner Blumenmarkt: Keine Ausrufer, kein Geschrei, nicht einmal bei den zahlreichen Sonderangeboten für Orchideen. Ich bin froh, dass ich keine Fachfrau für Orchideen bin, andernfalls hätte ich bestimmt vor Entzücken geweint. Exquisite Auswahlen an Frauenschuhen, Jungpflanzen spezieller Varietäten, kaskadenartige Blütenstängel in hellgelb und aubergine, finster gesprenkelte Schlünde, rätselhafte Wurzelstücke und immer wieder kleinere „Hausgebrauchs-Pflanzen“ ab 50 TWD, also ab 1, 60 Euro. Für ansehnliche Teile liegen die Preise zwischen 200 und 450 TWD und ich fühle mich sehr in Versuchung geführt.

Grob gesagt unterteilt sich das Angebot des Blumenmarktes in Orchideen, Sukkulenten, Farne und Epiphyten, Kamelien und Bonsai (die gehören zwar nun wirklich nicht zusammen, stehen aber oft beieinander), Pflanzen für den Kräuter- und Gemüsegarten und „Schau-Prachtstauden, darunter vor allem Astern, Aschenblumen und Flamingoblumen sowie Löwenmäuler. Eng umdrängt sind die Stände, die westliche Frühjahrsblumen anbieten: Hyazinthen und Zwiebeln von Osterglocken. Und diese sind dann auch vergleichsweise teuer.
Unübersehbar: Der Hang zu dekorativem Chichi, vor allem bei der Aquaristik…

Bei den Sämereien schaue ich nach asiatischen Blumen, aber da ist nichts. Vielleicht weil das alles hier auch so wächst? Das Sortiment – abgesehen von Gartengemüsen – ist nahezu das gleiche wie in westlichen Baumärkten, wennauch schmäler: Sonnenblumen, Cosmeen, Bartnelken, Herbstastern.

Gartengeräte sind ein Kapitel für sich. Zu meinem Erstaunen sind westliche Produktnamen ziemlich präsent. Viel interessanter sind aber die superstabilen Stahlharken, Gartenmesser und -schaufeln, die schwer in der Hand liegen und leider das Koffergewicht um einiges erhöhen würden.
Auch Tee wird verkauft: Zum einen aus silbernen Samowaren, zum anderen auch als Packung: Endlich!

Im Mittelteil der Halle sitzen ein paar junge Hunde (und Katzen) in Käfigen und tun mir Leid. Die Aufseherin versucht einen von ihnen an der Pfote für einen potentiellen Kunden hervorzuziehen und mir scheint, dass das Tier hier nur mehr ein lebendiges Objekt ist.
Überhaupt sind die Hunde, die hier ausgeführt werden, oft mit Frisuren und/oder Kleidung ausstaffiert. Hundefriseur scheint ein einträglicher Berufszweig zu sein. Keine Seltenheit ist es, Hunde in Kinderwägen zu transportieren, warum auch immer.


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Treasure Hill Artist Village im Zhongzheng Distrikt Taipehs liegt nahe am Fluss Fuhe, über dem ein Wirrwarr an fliederfarbenen Flyovers und Zufahrten die Lüfte kreuzt. Dahinter: grüne, in Wolkendunst gehüllte Berge. Auf dem Weg zum Ufer liegen die Gemüsegärten der Dorfbewohner: Etwa 19 Familien teilen sich das Viertel von Treasure Hill mit heimischen und auswärtigen KünstlerInnen.

Während die Einheimischen vorwiegend ihre Nutzgärten pflegen, ist die gesamte Anlage nicht weniger auch geprägt von „Picknickorten“, Wandelgängen und einer Vielzahl versteckter Mikrogärten. Was von den alten Fliesen geblieben ist, mit denen Plätze, Betonwände und Terrassen gekachelt sind, zeigt meist handgemalte Blumenmotive. Die Dächer begrünen sich von allein…, aber einige Dachgärten wurden doch mit Absicht angelegt. Mauern und Wände sind bewachsen mit Farnen, Winden, Moosen und kleinen Steinbrechgewächsen. Auch die Efeutute hat hier ihr Zuhause, ausufernd schlingt sie sich um Büsche und Bäume, Mauern und Zäune und wirkt eindeutig glücklicher als in der deutschen Treppenhaus-Tristesse.

In Töpfen entlang der Treppen stehen Zitronen- und Mandarinenbäume, Hortensien, Wandelröschen, Azaleen und Kamelien. Kohlweißlinge sind unterwegs, weshalb die meisten Kohlköpfe sorgsam unter Flies gehalten werden. Ein Teich, eine Seerose und viele Mücken auf einem Pfad, der bereits hinter das Dorf führt, in einen weitaus ungeordneteren Garten unterhalb der historischen Fassaden der Bunker. Dort finde ich auch ein Exemplar der indigoblau blühenden „Schmetterlingserbse“. Eine Pflanze, deren Name, Clitoria ternatea, quasi selbsterklärend wäre, wenn es sich hier nicht um eine gefüllte Variante handelte.

Eating the blossoms of this plant is said to increase intelligence and beauty…

Nun ein paar Treasure Hill Gartenansichten:

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(Übersetzung folgt) „Aspirin is very good“, Patrick says, „but take care you buy uncoated tablets only“, and he’s not talking about his head but about the roses of the ELP Municipal Rose Garden on 710 Aurora Drive. We stand in the blazing heat and are talking roses.

A rose garden always seems to be a formal matter and the El Paso rose garden makes no exception. Its surrounding walls are whitewashed, the paths and plots follow prescibed horticultural plans, and yet, the neighborhood seems rather unimpressed. A police car is the only vehicle on the gravel parking lot of the garden. Teenagers in yellow shirts jump up and down under the terracotta colored roof of a nearby school. In front and behind the walls, rows of Hespealoes (Red Yucca) show off their last blossoms on gracious stalks, with black seeds spilling out of elegantly shaped pods.

Patrick is about 70, wears checkered trousers and a  Catweasel-like beard. How come we started talking about the roses? He was working at a stretch of red shrub varieties.  We admired him and the roses, unfilled simple red blossoms on age-grey sun-battered strong stems: desert hardy roses. And as it turned out, desert hardy roses were a favorite theme of Patrick who starts at 7 in the morning and has been working for the past 11 years in this garden.

He leads us to a shed where the gardeners stash garlic and onions to fight off the white fly, baking power against soil pests and aspirin against black spot desease and yellow leaves.
“If your roses becomes weak and sick, a good spell of aspirin helps them recover their health again”, says Patrick.

 

Aspirin is good for roses

Texan desert rose information files…

Desert roses are bred on rose wood that is not the European Rosa Canina but the (still!) hardier and heat resistant desert rose Rosa Stellata. They are bred to withstand the enormous temperatures encountered in the regions of Texas, New Mexico and and and.
The El Paso bushes, – floribundas and tea hybrids – bear mostly simple open blossoms, many of them with a strong, quite varied scent. Some are like apple, others almost cinnamon, others like old scented wood. Patrick shows us a box with carefully ordered notes and leaflets addressing the special needs of desert roses. “Worst of all is the wind”, he says.

A multicolored specimen…

Purple Passion

Shoot from withered stem

Knock Out

He takes us back to his pruning work, a basket full of grey wood and wilted flowers stands next to him. Of course, he has the shears ready anytime, stashed in a leather sheath fixed to his belt. Next to the basket leans a very reliable looking pair of lobbers.

One of our questions seemingly puzzles him. “How about lavender?”, I had asked, to fight off the pests and give the roses company. “This has never been taken into consideration or planning… though, from now on I’ll think on it”, he says.

The sun has called its tribute already. The roses, hardly opened up, fold their leaves exhaustedly together, the rims of their petals at times even dried up before the whole flower has opened. Against one of the fences leans a tattered New Dawn, evidently unfit for this desert climate and close to fainting. Maybe this is a reason for the floribunda’s preference and also for the selection and breeding of smaller flowers. The resident tea hybrids of course still have prominent blossoms, but these are not always as much scented as one would suspect. Some have almost Dahlia-like spirally arranged petals, some variegated in while and red, or yellow and red.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy Garland

The Municipal rose garden has quite a bit of staff to care for its roses, next to Patrick there is another elderly gardener (sturdier but with no beard and rather in his 60is) and a young woman who sets herself to work just as we are leaving the garden. In our bags we carry a small catalogue on desert roses and the inevitable leaflet on how to fight common pests and pruning.
  

 

 

One last theme: Almost all roses in the Municipal Rose Garden are American bred, the greatest part of them during the 50s and 60s. Their names convey quite accurately the diptych of culture and patriotism while a third section refers to their brilliance of colours: “Judy Garland”, “Betty Boop”, “Freedom”, “Roosevelt”, “Veteran’s Honor”, “Fourth of July”, “Proud Land”, “Prairie Lass”, “Purple Passion” and of course, “Knock Out”… 

 
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(Übersetzung folgt) The Sotol plant (Dasylirion liophyllum) abounds on the Northern slopes of the Big Bend National Park. Its slender flower stems reach into the air, gently waving in the occasional breezes coming down from the mountains.
The sotol belongs to the family of the agavea yet its outer appearance resembles more a yucca. The Indians used to roast the heart of the plant in fire pits dug into the earth, coals beneath and silt on top to cover them.

Yet, as we approach the Big Bend’s “Sotol View“ it becomes apparent that quite recently a bush fire has raged in the region. The ground is almost bare, splashed with grey patches of ashes and in between, the stumps of the sotel plants sit like churned pineapples, surrounded by the black sticks and twigs what was formerly mesquite and coal back stubbles of gras.

A closer look reveals that most of the Sotel plants are not dead at all! Slowly (but not really slow, as desert plants are fast-reacting beings), one days after another, new green pushes the scorched leaves forward. I’d say that the fire happened maybe 2-3 weeks ago, no more. Already new seedlings have appeared in little clusters, some of the stubbles show new leaves of grass. The opuntias however, look desolate. Their „ears“ have turned to a sickly, almost transparent yellow, and where the whole plant has been seized, there is nothing left to rescue.

Some plants are only burnt half, clearly the fire had been extinguished fairly quickly. The Big Bend’s fire brigade goes by the name of „Los Diablos“, a Mexican troop notoriously known by its efficiency, courage and speed. As they say, they „fight the fire like the devil“, hence the name. Still, there is a bitter taste to the story of this brigade. Being Mexicans and having their home mostly close to the border, the men are – despite the fact that the group is even recruited for emergencies all over the South West far into Presidio county – not even allowed a permanent working permit.

 

 

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From the Red Roses of Texas to freely growing “Night Shades” in avocado shaped BBQ roasts found on the corners of derelict houses: Stay prepared for selected postings (and excuse the delays: it’s either too much sun or no W-Lan or too much sun again.

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11. März 2018. I meet Daniel Sigler at the Casa Encendida where he reads silently the El Pais while I discuss the (then) future Datscha Radio with the Radio Hortelana ladies Elena and Carolina. It is the day of the agricultural market in the Retiro Park, so after a quick side trip to Esta es Una Plaza, Daniel and I walk up to the park. He carries a huge umbrella that provides also a bit of shelter for the microphone that I had to switch on as we „talk garden“ for most part of our conversation already. Daniel is one of the foundesr of „La Cabaña del Retiro“, a „garden in the garden“, a place for horticultural education, self empowerment, and spiritual well-being. He is also a teacher of Shia-tsu, and his views on the corporeal and spiritual elements in gardening are well-grounded and for a great part based on Eastern philosophy and medicinal knowledge.

Daniel Sigler

The Cabaña was started about 14 years ago with a handful of volunteers from the surrounding neighborhood. From 60 m2 it was continually extended over the years and spans now more than 145 m2 situated on the eastern flank of the park. Currently there are up to 20-30 people regularly tending the garden and/or taking part in the multitude of activities offered within the frame of the Cabaña’s educational programs. Daniel teaches the art of holistic gardening, with a strong focus of inclusion, ecological education and self empowerment. All materials come from recycling and/or left-overs from other building activities in the Retiro: Boards, stones, sand and soil. The garden paths between the plots are wide enough to be accessible for people in wheelchairs, there are spaces for communication (“The lover’s meeting point”), meditation (a geodetic dome) and teaching (inside the actual house). A path leads up the terraces to a scenic lookout over the garden grounds.

The Cabaña belongs, like all other gardens I have been to, to the Red de los Huertos Communitarios, the Madrid network of urban gardens. The „Aula Ambiental“, the place’s „ecological classroom“ forms the offers courses and workshops on plant care and environmental awareness for children and adults alike. In addition, there are periodical invitations to conferences and excursions to natural spaces and environmental facilities.

Entrance of Cabaña

Still life in Cabaña

Still life in Cabaña (educational)

Still life in Cabaña (educational)

Where you can learn

While we walk on the paths I notice that there are more „ornamental flowers“ present than formerly encountered in other urban gardens. „No, we don’t ban flowers from our garden“, says Daniel. The practical and the beautiful both serve the environment, be it animals or humans.“ While he picks some salad for the market I take my documentary pics. It is almost 3 in the afternoon on our arrival at the market of the „El Huerto del Retiro“, a more „classical“ urban garden by way of its organization and horticultural lay-out (plus the biggest insect hotel i have ever seen). Alas, the market stalls are almost deserted by now (Spanish people don’t like the rain)! There is craft beer, organic cheese and honey. There is or was still more, yet i admit, I was very hungry by that time and needed a meal more than anything else…

View from having a craft beer

XXXL insect hotel

On our way to this huerto we passed some bellis growing next to some daisies in the grass. Those seeds got carried over the fence from the community garden, says Daniel. Later I look at the Madrid map of urban gardens: Somehow, I find, there is a resemblance…

Daisies and bellis

 

Urban gardens in Madrid

 

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21st March 2018

The air was fresh but the sun was shining and the lawns lit up in dreams in pink, white and black: For once in these times of preparing for the radio at the “Plaza” I did what is a tradition among the Madrid people! I went to the Parque La Quinta de los Molinos to wander among the budding and blooming almond trees. I had myself photographed under a tree (like everybody) and I took selfies (like everybody). Wonderful!

Get these pictures:) (Some other info about the park and its trees will follow)

 
 
 
 
 

 
 


 

 

 

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(Übersetzung folgt) The district of Batán borders on the Casa del Campo park, the neighborhood is a mixture of appartment blocks for the not-so-rich, sports grounds, and still fairly big patches of wasteland. A winding road takes us – about 500 meters further – to the urban garden of Batán, one of the first in Madrid.

Irene, who founded the garden with her community

Things to do

Irene Prins was one among those first founders, then in 2012, in fact, she initiated the project. Our talk takes us from the need to create a place for oneself to the ramifications of the 15th of May Movement in 2011. Irene stuck notes to the walls and trees in the neighbourhood to find people willing to set up a garden space in the area. Over 30 came. “Before this revolutionary movement happened”, she said, “maybe the interest wouldn’t have been so great. But this idea of selfempowerment and taking on responsibilty for the places and communites we live in, was just too important”.

Batán No.1: The original location of the garden was some 50 meters distant. It is smaller and is now cultivated into a forest garden.

Soon afterwards, the Huerto de Batán began to connect to other urban gardens in the city, “there were maybe 4 or 5 of them” – and this was the beginnung of the “Red le los huertos communales en Madrid”. La Red, the network, now counts around 50 urban gardens in the municipality of Madrid. The work is done by volunteers, but the city occasionally supports the gardeners in gaining acess to some rescources like extra soil, organic fertilizers, and water. Yet in their very beginnings, Batán gardens were just a squat and the water was “siphoned off” a communal pipe.

The pond

As we sit in the sun with the distant noise of the A 18 motorway in our back, the conversation shifts from politics and communal issues to the permacultural design of the garden which is clearly organized in terrasses, and planted with a thoughtful mix of (still young) trees, supporting shrubs, herbs, occasional flowers and of course, a diversity of vegetables. There are also a pond and a beehive… too silent this latter one for this time of the year: “We’ll have to wait. Maybe there is still hope, there was so much honey there the last year and we left it all to the bees. But it is strange, not to see a single bee…”

Irene shows me around the plots that in some places spout bushy clews of “habas” (broad beans), there is  timid rhubarb, rosemary and salads. There is also grass, stone, wood, mulch made from twigs, and an irrigation system (saw no Spanish garden without one so far). The garden’s special point is to turn annual vegetables into perennial ones, something that can work quite well with cabbages for example. I get also introduced to a garden plant entirely new to me, the Siberian Pea. Hardy, sturdy and with a stem and branches, a pea bearing shrub… !!!

One last question (podcast of this will be available at some later point) touches our personal relationship to the plant life. Yes, there is , if not actual talk but ‘thinking’ to the plant and a sincere feeling of respect and gratitude. Irene holds that connecting to the earth also connects us better to our lives and fellow human beings, because “it is all about caring”, she says.
There is nothing to add… except some images and the following links.

 

 

 

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