Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Letter from Germany, part 1

It's been four years since I’ve been back to Germany—the first time since I’ve started to blog about gardening and plants in general. Looking at the world around me with that in mind has been an awesome experience. This is the place where I was born—a town with over 1,000 years of history—and while buildings and people change, the fields and forests that surround it have remained remarkably unchanged since I moved away when I was 18.

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Here are the some impressions from my first couple of days. Think of them as picture postcards from the heart of Bavaria.

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The chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum) were in bloom everywhere. I didn’t realize how complex their flowers are until I looked closer.

                                                                                                                                 
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While white is the predominant color, I also found a few pink varieties.

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Walking and driving around, I realized how many ancient apple trees are still left in people’s gardens, their trunks moss-covered and twisted.

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And of course there are the lilacs! We have a low-chill lilac in our backyard in Davis but it pales in comparison to the variety in colors and blooms found here. This area gets cold in the winter—they had minus 27°C last winter—and the lilacs thrive in this climate.

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The most magnificent tree I remember from my childhood is the linden tree. Now there are very few left, and I don’t know why. I was a bit depressed to find a whole row of those hacked specimens.

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Further afield, meadows are expanses of gold. Looking closer, I realized that most of these are dandelions, larger here than in California and quite possibly a different species.

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And on slopes with a more southerly exposure, the dandelions are done blooming already, turning what were meadows of gold into meadows of silver.

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Wildflowers that were common when I was young are now rare. This cowslip (Primula veris) is now protected and picking it is now illegal.

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Other wildflowers are still common.

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Dead nettle
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Forget-me-nots with ferns

Less than 10 minutes from my mother’s house we found the last remaining field of hops. When I was young, this area was a major producer of hops for brewing. Now most hops is grown in other parts of Bavaria.

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One of the things I enjoy most is driving around on country lanes. No cars, no people, just peaceful views.

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Every now and then you come across a farm building that is clearly centuries old. Most of them are now listed, which means that no major modifications are allowed.

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Related posts:

Letter from Germany, part 1

Letter from Germany, part 2

Letter from Germany, part 3

Letter from Germany, part 4

9 comments:

  1. Gerhard,

    Welcome back to Europe!

    Bavaria is not an area I have visited, but from your photos its classic chocolate box Germany. We really must get to see more of Germany, as travel from the UK is so easy (well easier for us than you!).

    The architecture is lovely, and the old farmhouse is a delight. Its amazing really just how diverse the buildings across Europe actually are. Theres not really much distance between Germany and the UK (or France, Holland etc) but each country and region has its own unique style. Looking forward to seeing more from your trip!

    Gaz

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    1. I agree, every region has a different look--and a different dialect. We spent a couple of days in the Dresden region in the southeastern corner of Germany; look for a post soon.

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  2. I was so happy to see that you'd posted! I've never been to that part of the world and knew you'd be showing us exactly the things I would want to see. What beautiful country. Of course with the ferns, chestnuts, lilacs and all the green it looks a lot like home to me.

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    1. I wasn't fully prepared for how GREEN everything is. It's certainly similar to Oregon in that respect, except it gets much colder than what you typically get. Several shrubs in my mom's and brother's front yards died this past winter, including roses, hydrangeas and buddleias. The only succulents I saw planted outside were sedums and sempervivums.

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  3. I love places with history like this. Eagerly waiting more of your observations!

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    1. Check part 2 here: http://www.bambooandmore.info/2012/05/letter-from-germany-part-2.html

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  4. Your beautiful photos are bringing back memories of being in what I believe was the southwestern part of Bavaria a long time ago. What a nice time blooming-wise to be there!

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    1. So glad you enjoyed my photos. It's probably the best time of year to visit.

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  5. I love your photos and I don't know if we got to Bavaria when I was young. It is a pretty area. That old farmhouse is so awesome! The photos of the different forests of trees are really incredible. Can't wait to see more.

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