Search This Blog

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Germany, Part Two, up North

The third day of our trip to Germany, mom and I spent the day traveling with the ICE Bahn (Germany's fast trains) north to Hamburg. As soon as we arrived at the main station in Hamburg we immediately bought ourselves a bratwurst (one of my all time favorite foods). We continued east on local trains, splitting up so that my mom stayed with her sister Eli in Rhinebeck and I stayed with my cousin Edith in Geestacht.

This opening photo was taken on the balcony at Edith's brand new penthouse home. Edith had just returned from seven weeks in Australia and her newly planted boxwoods show the stress of the heatwave that swept the area while she was away. I can only imagine how lovely she'll have this balcony looking by next year :-)

While this photo is not artistic, I wanted to remember the boxwoods that I saw everywhere, often planted in clay planters like this. While these type of planters do not survive our New York winters, I think I'd like to plant boxwood this way.

Looking straight out over the balcony railing, I couldn't help but be drawn in by the amazing tapestry of evergreen trees in every direction. You would never know that this penthouse was only one block from the town center in Geestacht.

Edith was a wonderful host to me and my brother Michael who arrived two days later. She drove us all over the area, most often, to the tiny town of Krukow where we all had more family.

As a child, my most favorite place in the world was my aunt and uncle's farm in Krukow, just east of Geestacht which is just east of Hamburg. A community of only 250 people, every house looking like a postcard image.

So often when revisiting places as an adult, you find your memory played tricks but not this time. I still would list this town as my utmost favorite place in the world and would love to spend a year of my life living there.

Although we arrived in Hamburg in the evening, Edith drove me straight to the farm where we suprised a whole gathering of aunts, uncles and many cousins.

I credit my Tante Inge and Onkel Heinz for making me the gardener that I am today. The idealic days I spent on their farm as a child I learned organic methods of farming (lots of manure) and the love of the outdoors which imprinted my soul.

This photo is one I will stare at many times in the coming year as it is my aunt standing at her doorway (with two more aunts in the backdrop). See all the boxwoods in the garden, they really were everywhere.

Growing against the doorframe was this stunning passion flower. While the summer temperatures in Germany are generally much cooler than we experience here in the USA, the winters are milder and I was amazed at the plants that overwinter in Germany.

Not to be outdone by other homes, you can imagine what a delight it was to sit under this roof, eating delicious food in the fresh air as a light rain fell just a few feet away from you.

Tante Inge's Clematis were a wonder, everybody had to comment on them.

Tucked into the cracks and crevices of the retaining wall were a wealth of plants. I wish I could share back and forth with my aunt as I know she would love the plants in my little rock garden.

Lots and lots of sempervivum were in the garden, some whole beds were bordered with them. Tante Inge had cut off some of the bloom scapes and was holding them over in a bucket of water. I wonder what kind of craft they will end up in.

A small glass house was chock full of runner beans, tomatoes, salads, and more.

Here you can see the tomatoes in the back of the greenhouse. We had lovely ripe tomatoes to eat with our meals before the tomatoes in my own garden here are even close to turning red.

As a closing shot, I thought I'd include a family pose in case some of my cousins are visiting here. The internet will hopefully bring us all close together as my mom, brother and I are the only branch in the USA.

From left to right is Onkel Heinz, next is my cousin Ellen who lives outside of London (another branch that moved away), I'm the tall one in the suit and at my right is my Tante Inge. This is another photo I will really treasure.

Time to wrap this up, I hear the rumble of thunder coming close and think it's time to close down this post.


Philip Bewley said...

Thanks for sharing this trip. I also loved the "tapestry of evergreens" you showed. I enjoyed this.

Gail said...

Wonderful post and I know you loved every minute of writing it...all the you had with your family could be experience again. Thank you for the tour!


Beth said...

What a nice photo of your German relatives. I think it's great that you have gardening keeps you and your family connected too. How cool is that?
Your trip has been a delightful read ...

Catherine?MyGardenTravels said...

By all the lovely pictures I can tell you had a wonderful trip. It's so nice you are left with great memories of spending time on you family farm. I too spent my summers on my Grandparents farm, which left me with the most wonderful memories.

Titania said...

How nice to go back to your roots and have such a nice holiday with your relatives you have spend time as a child. I can relate to that.
Lovely photos for memory too.

garden girl said...

Melanie, it's been wonderful reading about your trip - sounds like a great time was had by all. How lucky you are to have been able to visit your ancestral home and get to know your overseas relatives and bond with them during your childhood.

There's so much tenderness and love in your posts about your childhood memories from there, and your visits with your family this trip. I've been back and read these posts twice now, thoroughly enjoyed them both times, and loved all the gorgeous pictures. What a lovely place to go 'home' to.

p.s. Welcome back! I'm glad you had a safe trip.

GardenJoy4Me said...

We also had a passion flower vine that was enormous on a brick wall in the courtyard of our Dutch house .. it amazed me that they do survive over winter .. especially when one of our winters was cold enough to freeze all the waterways for the skating contest they can only have with a very cold winter .. the name escapes me now but wow !
We loved the German Xmas markets the most !
Joy : )