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Datscha Radio reist nach Taiwan! Jetzt ist es offiziell: Als eine der ausgewählten Künstlerinnen für die Treasure Hill Artist Residency 2019 in Taipeh werde ich vor Ort Recherchen und Radiokunst betreiben.

Vorgesehen sind Interviews, neue Kompositionen und Field Recordings sowie ein Live-Radio-Stream zu festen Zeiten. Und natürlich wird der Blog um Beiträge zur taiwanesischen Pflanzen- und Gartenwelt erweitert. Ich freue mich :)

Ort: Treasure Hill Artist Village, Taipei
Zeit: 11. Januar – 11. März 2019

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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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Datscha Radio reist nach Taiwan! Es ist nun offiziell: Im Rahmen der Treasure Hill Artist Residency 2019 in Taipei wurde ich eingeladen vor Ort akustisch interaktiv zu forschen und zu arbeiten.
Auf dem Plan stehen Interviews und Field Recordings sowie Live-Radiostreams zu festgesetzten Zeiten. Und natürlich wird auch der Blog um Beiträge zur taiwanesichen Pflanzen- (und Garten)welt erweitert. Ich freue mich!

Ort: Treasure Hill Artist Village, Taipei
Zeit: 11. Januar – 11. März 2019

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(Übersetzung folgt) The only two times I photographed a desert prickly poppy (Argemone polyanthemos) was in 2003 and in 2018, and both happened on the occasion of a visit to the Chinati Foundation.

In a garden next to the studios (it was absolutely forbidden to take pics of the interiors and the library) a row of sunflowers lined a Judd-fashioned adobe wall. As the whole place is imprinted with this man’s concept of perfect proportion, it appeared to me that not even  the sunflowers could withstand his sense of zen-like order. Their silhouettes stood out in immaculate wilting… and reminded me somehow of a procession of Don Quixotes.

The open fields that frame the buildings and outdoor concrete sculptures stretch over an 340 acre areal bought by Judd  during his first visits to Marfa in the 70s. Inside and outside melt into each other on viewing his aluminum sculptures through the giant glass panes.


The ground is gravel and red earth, interspersed with pebbles and small rocks… and desert flowers.

Different kinds of prairie grasses grew there, e. g. so-called weeds like the Silverleaf Nightshade, that has much bigger blossoms than the European kind (Solanum nigrum). Its flowers appear in different hues of blue, from lilac and mauve to an almost clear blue).

The Prickly Poppy stays one of my favorites:

 

Also to be found are some handsome thistles, silvery dead aloe(heads), lots of  bronze-coloured dried up, unknown (to me) annuals, and in the background exhausted looking shrubs and desert willows meddling with the low hanging clouds.

 

And here are still some other (not yet specified) flowers that grew among the sculptures.

 

 

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Absolut erstaunlich und rasend schnell: In nur 6 Tagen hat das seit Ende der Süßkirschenernte im Vogelhaus heimische Hornissenvolk einen fantastischen Anbau fabriziert: eine Datscha für Hornissen!

Ich frage mich, wie das nun weitergeht… die Schönwettersaison ist ja noch lange nicht vorbei. Hornissen sind nachtaktiv, aber morgens und in den frühen Nachmittagstunden sind ihre Nestbaugeräusche am lautesten: Ein permanentes Raspeln begleitet von leisem Brummen und Flügelsausen. Schöne Idee, da mal ein Mikrofon näher hinzuhalten – tja, ich bin’s nicht.

Um welche Hornissenart es sich hier handeln mag?

Ansicht im Ganzen mit Vogelhaus

72 hours later

Close-up of the lower section

The lower section 72 hours later

Datscha Hornet Front View

Adorned entrance

Entrance 72 hours later

 

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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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(Übersetzung folgt) A place for study, information but also a treasure trove of ancient books on botany, this is the library of the Real Jardìn Botanico. Felix Alonso is the head of the library department – we already met when I stumbled into the offices on my very first visit to the garden – and we both enjoy our second encounter. As requested I had prepared some questions and the interview runs smoothly (in the process of editing).

 

Felix Alonso, head libarian of the RJM explains about his work

 

Sample Title :)

The beginnings of the book collections stored here lie in the 18th century, but since then the work of librarians has changed considerately – more so with the impact of the digital age. Apart from keeping pace with the mounting bulk of new publications (and sorting and cataloguing them), the library also engages in several activities with the public. One of them being the forthcoming exhibition about „Tulipan Ilustrado“, the Tulip in Illustration, on the 20th of March (until 20th of May).

Speaking of illustrations Felix proceeds to show me one of the more special books. The drawings are excellent (naturally!) and separated by tissue paper from each other. Pages are turned and the rustle of the tissue compels me to record the sound. Señor Alonso smiles. Maybe this seems strange to him, that something so utterly functional has qualities beyond that: audible ones. Then again, this might have been to moment for him to decide to let me walk me further into the aisles.

Of course this is the goddess Flora

 

Fantastic books if you love the green world!

 
 

Needless to say that I am overwhelmed by the abundance of botanical books in the shelves, some of them surely rare: Expedtion reports from the jungles of Bolivia, mushrooms in the Himalya, pittosporums in Galicia, Pilze in Mitteleuropa, books in Chinese, German, English, French, and and and. Yet, if my curiosity hadn’t driven me down the corridor on that first day I wouldn’t have known about the cabinet at the very end of the room, and so I ask.

„Yes, says Felix, I can show you at least one of the books, I only need to get the key.

The Fuchs Book

These treasures are stored in grey plastic boxes, and carefully wrapped in transparent foil. The book I am allowed to look at is one of the very few (maybe 50 worldwide) copies of Leonhard Fuchs, one of the „fathers“ of botanics, printed around 1542.
The index indicates the plant names in latin but also with their common German names. The drawings were first printed in their outlines and afterwards coloured by hand. I am stunned and feel an overwhelming gratitude for the existence of these botanists, maybe of botanists in general. And, of course, for the people that helped to manufacture books like this, woodcutters, painters, printers. Fuchs himself acknowledges their input by the inclusion of their portraits. Else? Look for yourself! And thank you, Señor Alonso!

 

After the talks a quick picture

 

As I leave the offices of the library, the Botanic garden sparkles in sunlight. Despite the still-too-low temperatures the plant make every effort to spring into leaf and flower… while the gardeners are working hard to prepare more beds.

Almond tree bonsai at the entrance of the library

 

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Eva Kurly and Oscar Dominguez at the Hospital de Plantas

(Übersetzung folgt) It’s less than a 20 minutes drive into the western part of Madrid and we reach the community of Pozuelo, famous for its singular „Hospital de Plantas“. As we get out of the car, the air feels different. Humid, a bit „foresty“ with a tinge of swamp. The rain falls softly on my face and onto Eva’s umbrella as we make our way to the entrance of Aula de Educación Ambiental (Húmera).

Eva Kurly had worked here for three years and arranged the interview.

Main office

The area is huge. We walk past greenhouses, wooden office buildings, plots and raised beds, and a geodetic dome used as a surround cinema. One of the educational directives of this place is the fostering of sustainable energies and waste upcycling. We pass a dew collector, solar panels (one in the shape of a giant sunflower, that alines its movement with the course of the sun) and a solar oven.

Smart solar energy plant

The fences hold plastic bottles cut out to hold plants of all sorts… due to the season most of them are „wild herbs“. Again much of the work invested into the huertos is done by volunteers and/or within the frame of education classes organized by the municipality.

The Hospital de Plantas is run by Oscar Domínguez, a biologist who teaches about plants and plant deceases at the university. There are regular opening hours once a week at Wednesday 10-2, when the citizens can come and bring their sick plants. A cupboard holds a microscope and various instruments to examine the patients and decide on the treatment.

Patients get a label

Once hospitalized, the length of stay  depends on the recovery process. For some plants, this can take up to a year, like in the case of a leafless, shriveled bonsai. Oscar put another case on the „Mesa de tratamiento“, a deplorable looking orchid in possession of none but one (broken) areal root. He points at some knobs in the centre of the plant. There is still hope, he says.

A classical patient

A snails sails across the table. It will be put out into the open

With such a long stay, I ask, how often does it happen that the owners won’t fetch their plants back?
Often, Oscar says. People just give up too easily. They are not used to care for plants in a sincere way.
Yet, if a person cannot take care of a plant, this shows that this person is also neglecting his or her own personality, or at least part of it.

Hospital watering can

Our conversation, facilitated by Eva’s translation, consequently drifts to the psychological impacts of plant ownership and care. Older people for example would often prefer plants that are easy to care for and grow rather slowly while young people love quick growth and plants that produce an abundance of colors both in leaves and flowers.

– The interview is presently in the process of editing and will be online in due time –

 

Oscar Dominguez, Hospital de Plantas

A second branch of Señor Dominguez’ research work is the construction of vertical gardens and the exploration of their micro climates. The one shown here is wainscoted with felt and allows a natural circulation of water, light and microorganisms within the unit.

We leave the „Classroom of Environmental Education“ of Pozuelo for a little walk in the nearby Casa De Campo. Once a hunting ground for the royals it is now Madrid’s biggest park covering more than 1,750 hectares. (I leave the touristic details aside here). There is anthother hospital in the vicinity: A hospital for night birds. There is not much hope to meet somebody there. Eva tells me she’s tried already several times. We are more than surprised that the door actually opens…
Yet, cheered too soon: No, no es possible! The staff is just at lunch and the birds are sleeping and must not be disturbed.

 
 

Stork’ nest Casa de Campo

Very wide awake instead are the storks that keep flying almost around our heads. Bundles of twigs hang from their beaks and indeed, Eva points out to a huge nest in the top of a nearby tree.
Two other features of the Casa des Campo: Swarms of green parrots that also nest here and pose (as in many other cities – also in Germany – ) a treat to the native birds, especially the common sparrow (which grows less and less common). Second, hoards of ghostly shaped trees, with hollow trunks and often reaching into the air with one last twisted branch. We put the recorder for the bird sounds into the fork of one branch and walk around… there is this „silky grey“ filter on my camera I try out.

Nest of the “evil” green Parrot

Ghost movie trees

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