It was in 1910 that Karl Foester founded a nursery specialising in hardy perennials. Next to it, two years later surrounding the house where he lived, he created a garden. Today the garden is open to the public as a memorial to him. It is not very big, but it is a gem. For keen gardeners it is an absolute must, whilst for non-gardeners it is a place to admire and enjoy.
Karl Foerster was born in 1874. As a child he, along with each of his siblings, was given a piece of land by his mother for a garden. He must have loved it, because plants and gardens were to become his life’s work. He died at the ripe old age of 96 in 1970 – respected as one of the most eminent men in the world of horticulture and plant breeding.
We found it down a tiny side road close to what was once the original nursery: a house with a garden made up of several themed gardens. There is a slightly formal sunken garden, a spring walk, a rock garden, and what was the private family garden. We were there in late September and the garden with its close plantings of gentle, soft pinks and mauves enlivened with occasional splashes of yellow was a delight.
Foersters aim for his plant breeding was to create plants for their appearance, colour and fragrance. Perennials that were strong enough to be attractive year on year, without the necessity of being dug up and destroyed at the end of each season. He included in his plant breeding scheme not just flowering plants but also grasses and ferns.
I love acquiring new plants so the liberal use of plant labels was much appreciated. My notebook came home with several ‘must buys’ listed in it. Much to my delight there are plans afoot to renovate the old house and have at least part of it open to the public; another delightful excuse for a return visit. Foerster-Stauden GmbH Am Raubfang 6 14469 Potsdam-Bornim . Check website for opening hours: www.foerster-stauden.de
Japanese Bonsai Garden
It must have seemed a daunting task for Tilo Gragert to transform a neglected plot of land into the tranquil, and beautiful, oasis it is today. Fresh soil had to be brought in and landscaped, a small lake was created complete with bridges and stepping stones, trees and shrubs planted and a pavilion built.
A childhood interest in Bonsai gardens had taken Tilo Gragert to Japan to learn more about this art form. Back home in Germany he set about creating his exquisite Japanese bonsai garden.
We were too early for most of the autumn foliage colours, though the chrysanthemums were lovely. However, it was obvious from the number of maple trees in evidence that it was going to be a picture in another week or two. And had we visited in the spring the azaleas and camellias would be in full blossom. It is a garden for all seasons.
It started to rain and we hastily headed for the pavilion where we lent on the railing watching the carp swimming in the water beneath us whilst Tilo told us his story of how he created this enchanting garden. He went on to explain the significance and positioning of the various stones and plants and the history of bonsai gardens. The rain eased and we made our way into the shop and the tea room that opens out onto a veranda overlooking the peaceful and immaculate Zen garden.
Visitors from this April will be in for an even bigger treat because Tilo has acquired an extra piece of land and is extending his garden. Classes in bonsai creation and maintenance are held from time to time and once or twice a year a Japanese tea master holds a tea ceremony in the Tea House.
Japanischer Bonsaigarten, Fercher Strasse 61, OT Ferch 14548 Schwielowsee. Check website for opening hours: www.bonsai-haus.de
For more information on the lovely Brandenburg region of Germany: www.reiseland-brandenburg.de