Monday, September 13, 2010
Lessons of European Allotment Gardens
Little cities of tidy garden plots offer Germans an opportunity to enjoy the garden lifestyle.
A tiny vignette of a German Schrebergarten suggests the pleasures of times spent in their garden allotments.
This garden displays the mix of vegetables and ornamentals that tend to define these German allotment gardens.
My trip to Germany this summer renewed my fascination with what is typically called a Schrebergarten. Associations of tiny garden plots with their accompanying tiny buildings (Kleingartenvereine) offer Germans without land the opportunity to enjoy the garden lifestyle. Here in the U.S. where ample suburban lots offer millions of people the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of organizing recreational time around their garden it seems ironic that so relatively few take advantage of the opportunity. While in Germany where these opportunities are far rarer the enthusiasm for gardening seems far greater. One needs only to walk by these little cities of garden plots to see the enthusiasm for them. Apparently this phenomenon extends beyond Germany. An interesting article in issue 164 of the BBC publication, Gardens Illustrated , profiles the joys of one family and their allotment garden in Denmark under the title "A Taste of the Good Life." They begin the article with the following: "Do you want a refuge full of home-grown fruit, vegetables and drifts of bright flowers all summer? One Danish family show(s) that you can have all this in an allotment-sized space." Perhaps when something is rare or limited it is more cherished.