“If you make a garden accessible, you should bank on criticism.”

Thomas Gainsborough: Robert und Frances Andrews, um 1750

GRÜNES BLUT met with the garden blogger, Detlev Brinkschulte, one freezing Saturday at the beginning of March. We were visiting the Thomas Gainsborough exhibition, “The modern landscape”, in the Hamburg Kunsthalle.

Detlev started following my blog some time ago. When I looked at his page, I could immediately see how he stands out from the crowd when it comes to the “theory of garden art”. His approach – the way he brings historical garden literature quotes into a contemporary context – encourages not only me, but also an international readership –  all who would like to see gardens in the light of current affairs and politics. By connecting a thorough overview of garden theory, the cultural landscape, art and photography, the former photo editor forms new thematic connections and fearlessly touches some raw green nerves. Dreaded in social media forums, Detlev could probably be described as the rogue of the German garden scene, who shamelessly cross-examines inflated trends.
When I started researching him, I quickly realised that this daring blogger is, in fact, quite prudent in his private life. I could find no photo on the internet in which he can be clearly identified. His personal information doesn’t include much beyond his marital status and the fact that his father was a gardener, but I found him extremely warm-hearted during our meeting.

GB: Your father was a gardener and you’ve confessed that you hated helping him in the garden. Yet, today gardens form the theme of your blog, “Theorie der Gartenkunst” (The theory of garden art). What was it that initially put you off?

DB: I was a real homebody as a child. Well, as a blogger I also sit at my desk most of the time. My father worked as a gardener for the city of Münster, so I saw too much of the reality of the profession from a young age. As a child, you’re not allowed to do cool things in the garden, and two Westphalian hardheads in one garden – that doesn’t work. But my basic dislike for gardening stemmed from a trip to Bonn to the Bundesgartenschau (Federal gardens show) in 1979. It was summer, very hot and no shade. My father was taking apart the planting, estimating the life expectancy of the recently planted trees and dragging me through the entire exhibition. I had just scavenged his old camera and had other things in mind. Only much later I discovered that something must have stuck with me. But as a child you always have something much better to do. These days I often find myself walking through public green spaces, grumbling, exactly like my father used to do.

Photography, art, books….. Gardens always kept popping up.

GB: What exactly do you mean by the gardening reality that you learnt from your father?

DB: I mean the plans being drawn up at the Grüner Tisch” (green table, a German phrase for bureaucratic planning) in the parks office and then getting implemented on site.  In those days, there were other possibilities. The gardeners used to be present on their sites with all their tools. Today everything is centralised and the gardeners often need to travel long distances. So, they can’t do anything quickly. If the tools haven’t been scheduled for today, they’re far away at the depot. I also think about the frustration when a planting has just been completed and then the whole place is turned into a garbage dump the next day. Conversation topics at the dinner table. When my father landscaped private gardens, he used to take me with him on weekends when he got plants from a nursery.  Those businesses don’t exist anymore. They either made no profit or they had no-one to take over the business. Now you see single-family houses there and vacant plots. Or you find biomass growing there….. And the idea that it’s a healthy habit to spend time outside in all kinds of weather, well that’s just another fairy tale. By the way, the profile photo on my blog is of my father and me on Mainau, a garden island in Lake Constance.

GB: Which garden then bowled you over, so much so, that you eventually discovered your love for gardens?

DB: The first garden that grabbed me, was the Baroque garden of the Rüschhaus near Münster. The architect, Johan Conrad Schlaun, built it as his summer house in the countryside. The poet, Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, also lived there later. The Baroque structure of the garden was restored in the 1980s, when new boxwoods and yews were planted. At first glance, it looks like a typical Münsterland farmhouse. At the front it has dung heaps and at the back, where the garden is, it’s a Maison de plaisance with a parterre. The house, a pleasure garden and a vegetable garden are all encircled by a Gräfte, a Westphalian name for a moat. For me, the structure and size of it still make this the perfect garden. Unfortunately, the planting between the boxwoods consists only of boring lawn.

GB: Before you involved yourself solely with garden design you took a detour into the cultural sector……

DB: As a kid, I only used to venture into fresh air with a camera. Photography, art, books ….. Gardens always kept popping up. I did a lot of my work in the art industry. So, it was this path that ran through art, architecture and urbanism that led me to gardens. The pavilions of Dan Graham, gardens like the Schiff für Münster(Ship for Münster) by Ludger Gerdes for the 1987 sculpture projects  in Münster. “Der Bevölkerung“ (To the population) by Hans Haacke in the northern courtyard of the Reichstag is one of my favourite gardens.

GB: Could you describe that one to me?

DB: There’s a “raised bed”, 6.8m x 20.8 m and 30 cm high with a neon sign “Der Bevölkerung” in the same font as the one on the west facade, “Dem du-weißt-schon-was” (to the you-know-what) by Peter Behrens. The MPs were all asked to bring soil from their constituencies. And the same still applies for new MPs today. The aim is to have ruderal vegetation, in other words only growth from seeds that were already in the soil or seeds that blew over. The plan was not to “horticulturally” intervene, but some shrubs have already grown too large. There were hefty debates in the Bundestag. Should it be called Volk (nation or people) or Bevölkerung (population), and ‘earth’ = (blood and) soil, etc. You can read about this on http://derbevoelkerung.de, they’ve even included Webcam coverage. A bit of soil and a few plants and politicians will start debating. This doesn’t usually happen around the theme of art and gardens, though. Haacke would certainly reject the term ‘Garden’, but the manner in which work such as this is received in the gardens-discourse would certainly cause a bit of a stir.

A garden cannot exist without an exterior or a context, no matter how high the walls or hedges around it.

GB: What fascinates you about gardens in a purely theoretical sense?

DB: As Foucault puts it, “Le jardin, c’est la plus petite parcelle du monde et puis c’est la totalité du monde.” This quote originates from a lecture, called “Des espace autres“. It’s about Heterotopia. Foucault is referring to gardens displayed on Persian carpets. Gardens always reflect the time in which they were created. They are mostly seen purely in an escapist sense – “My paradise”. But gardens can only become a paradise through exclusion, as the Persian origin of the word (Paradeisos, “fenced area) suggests. So, there you stand in your little paradise of a cottage garden and your flower beds contain only old regional plants. Yet they all originally come from Asia or America. Even the Goutweed was probably carted in by the Romans and propagated as a vegetable in the monastery gardens during the middle ages. As far as the whole discussion on “regional” and “indigenous species” is concerned, I’m always very cautious, because in a garden-historical sense it quickly starts becoming very ‘brown’ (National socialist).

GB: So, it’s the cultural history behind the plants or the respective garden types that impresses you.

DB: Yes, because the plants in the bed always include the history behind their “discovery” – often having imperialist, colonial and political significance. For example, the baroque gardens represent the absolute monarchies. For the garden in Versailles,  Ludwig XIV even went so far as to write a guide which stipulated the protocol for walks in the garden. A garden cannot exist without an exterior or a context, no matter how high the walls or hedges around it. The cornflower as a symbol in Prussia, is Prussian blue. The question is whether I can plant it next to my Rosa x alba “Queen of Denmark” (the area in which Detlev lives was once part of Denmark), or whether changes in plant names are considered according to world political situations.  It’s sometimes quite interesting to see which plants grow next to each other in a bed, aside from following a purely aesthetical planting plan.

GB: You had a previous career as a photographer and you used to work closely together with those involved in the cultural sector. Why does the average culture-lover prefer looking at landscape paintings by Thomas Gainsborough to walking in a landscaped garden?

DB: Landscapes by Gainsborough and other artists will always be popular. Just look at the Montages by Caspar David Friedrich. You can see “Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer” (The wanderer on the sea of fog) in the collection hanging here. It’s like the rampant “Landlust”  (rural obsession) where everyone wants to bond with nature, but no-one wants the stink or the noise of tractors and animals at 6 am. There’s a sort of ‘ha-ha’ missing, as the museum jumps in to help here. You’re free to look, but don’t get too real. People appreciate it purely for the aesthetics.

We’ve just arrived in front of Mr. and Mrs. Andrews

DB: Before the Andrews’ climbed into their transport box and headed to Hamburg, the National Gallery in London had posted a video under #PaintedLovers – just before the World Cut-Flower Day. The relaxed Mr A and his dog and Mrs A are sitting on a garden bench. In the background, you see the church they got married in. The motivation for the marriage was most probably to secure land ownership of the region.  The two families owned neighbouring properties. The curator calls the landscape ‘another lover’.  John Berger has noted in his “Ways of Seeing” that Mr and Mrs Andrews don’t represent an idyllic scene – à la Rousseau – back to nature and so forth. They are, in fact, landowners, presenting themselves and their property. The Andrews’ just had the money and the available free time to buy and read a bestseller, perhaps even a Rousseau. The grain you see in the picture has been sown in exact rows. In other words, they used a seed drill. The seed wasn’t sown by hand. Agricultural industrialisation has started and the sheaves are arranged as if for a thanksgiving service. The staff is out of the frame. They do, however, feature in “The Harvest Wagon”. Very rustic and picturesque. What here still seems to be a scene in the countryside, will soon become the rural exodus into the cities and factories – “the working-class in England.” (Pause, Detlev is thinking …)
Today, we tend to view all of these as English landscape gardens.  But the landscape gardens are not by any means “more natural” and their owners not “more enlightened” than the baroque gardens of the Ancien regime. The enlightenment gardens were often financed through harsh capitalism, colonialism and the regional agriculture, because a lot of money was needed to reshape a landscape. Here in Hamburg, you just need to look at the landscaped gardens along the Elbschaussee to realise who they belong to and where the money comes from. But in Hamburg you don’t ask questions about these things. The important thing is there’s enough money.
What’s specifically interesting is how these pictures, the landscapes, are perceived at exhibitions. The curator has tried to contextualise the paintings in the exhibition. Yet the viewers still have in mind “nature”, rather than “agriculture”. The social and cultural background is ignored by the average visitor.
Aside from loan-exhibitions like this one, the first director of the Kunsthalle, Alfred Lichtwark, built up quite a big collection and used to invite artists to Hamburg to come and work here. One of these was Max Liebermann, in whose garden planning – in Wannsee, Berlin Lichtwark was involved. If we think locally, how about a project that shows historical and contemporary presentations of urban and cultural landscapes, such as the Vier- und Marschlande (south-eastern rural districts in Hamburg with a long tradition of horticulture and agriculture) or the Altes Land (South of the Elbe between Stadte and Buxtehude, the largest contiguous fruit-producing region in northern Europe) and gardens from the store-rooms of the museums in Hamburg (you probably won’t find many among the contemporary works.)? Let’s look at what used to be, what still exists and link the whole story with today’s urban planning, densification and erasure of green spaces.

Away from their landscaped gardens, that merely readjust nature and evoke pre-conditioned feelings!

GB: How, in your opinion, does the general public perceive landscape gardens?

DB: As far as landscape gardens are concerned – I believe it has something to do with their expectations of gardens and parklands. People will always book trips to English landscape gardens, even when they don’t have nice flowers. It’s this “you just have to see it” thing – which says more about tourism than about the public’s interest in the gardens themselves. On the tour programme, you’ll typically find a cottage garden by Gertrude Jekyll or the White Garden at Sissinghurst as well as the Long Border at Dixter.
Just look at the tourists at Branitz – on the pleasure ground at the castle with its beds and borders. But people are starting to take much less notice of the park area. Shrubs and grass.  An area you walk through to get to the pyramids. Today meadows and lawns are used merely as barbeque spots or as areas where you can walk your dog. The same is true for the park at Sanssouci. There the people hurry through the park until they eventually see some more architecture – Charlottenhof. A walk under the pergola, they reminisce about Italy, and they very quickly arrive at the rose garden.
Just between us, I find most English landscape gardens seriously boring. These monstrous country houses, that stand in the meadows like UFO’s that have just landed…. With a few clumps of trees á la Lancelot “Capability” Brown; then rather give me William Kent.  I think Pückler is particularly good. He was a real freak.
I think we should get out of the bunker now. Upstairs there’s another Hamburg garden in this collection that I like. It used to be ‘outside the gates of the city’ in Eimsbuttel when it was painted. You have children in your garden too, don’t you?

GB: I sure do. And they often want to help. What does the Philipp Otto Runge painting mean to you?

DB: To me, the painting says, Get out of the garden! I have a few things concerning children and gardens up my sleeve for a future blog post. So, I stumbled upon the Hülsenbeckschen Kinder”. Romanticism is not at all my “ism”. The only thing I find bleaker, is impressionism á la Monet. One of the best garden books of the last few years, is Im Garten der Romantik by Hans von Trotha. It’s not at all about romantic little gardens. Trotha describes the departure of romantics into Nature. Away from their landscaped gardens, that merely readjust nature and evoke pre-conditioned feelings! He doesn’t mention the image of Runge, but the “Hülsenbeckschen Kinder” just made me think of it. It’s not clear if the children are still in the garden or already out of it. But these are children, so naturally they can quickly climb over the garden fence to the other side …. Of course, this picture is a horror scenario for any 21st-century helicopter parent (hovering /over-protective). The kids leave the protected garden area, that was created for them – as a place of retreat – in the countryside just outside the city.  And the toddler in the cart is also busy tearing off flowers, which could very well be poisonous …

GB: My garden gate very conveniently sticks, so I can afford to just relax and forget about any helicopter temptations. But let’s get back to the topic. So, if I understand you correctly, you’re confronted by the image of a gardens as an idyll, a type of barometer of the owner’s ignorance.

DB: You cannot trust industrial agriculture, so you try to be self-sufficient. Our public green spaces are in a catastrophic state, but at least you have your own English lawn and a few little roses. You build your own home in a new residential area, “in the green meadows”, and on the remaining property you install a biotope next to your barbeque. This is all very bourgeois and naive. A longing for peace and quiet, that I can understand. We’re “gardening” here in front of the house and I end up fighting with dog owners, who treat this whole place like a dog toilet, or I get annoyed with parents who stare at their smartphones while their brats trample all over the plants. I can fundamentally understand the longing for a hortus conclusus, but I miss the wider context, that view over the fence.

GB: In your blog, you publish quotes, mainly from theoretical garden texts. Why did you start using this format?

DB: When I’m interested in a certain theme, I start researching. For example, where does a plant come from? In which contexts did it first start appearing as a design element.  Then I arrive at the source texts. I don’t even touch most of the new garden books. They are written and published in a hurry, because the theme is hip at the time. And, added to that, you have those over-photoshopped photos with the little vignettes crafted onto every available white space. I don’t like reading them. The “old” garden books, in contrast, are wonderful. Because of our political correctness and the constant garden mollycoddling, a lot of the content would certainly not survive today’s editing process. When I find something good, like a plant description or a discussion about a certain design or presentation, it goes into my digital ‘cash slip box’ or I insert a bookmark into the book. Sometimes I collect things for a specific theme. When Hermann Muthesius gets upset about wire fences and front gardens, this can work well with current discussions on Schottergärten (a misunderstood version of the gravel garden). When Theodor Fontane mentions “a rich, ever growing culture!”, he is describing the fruit orchards in Werder an der Havel (a village near Berlin, next to the Havel river). In fact, his context is refugees, the birth of a gardening culture and of a landscape.  He describes the start of the season on the first of June. That’s why I posted a quote from his “Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg” on 1 June. Over the last few years I’ve always done something special at the start of a season. For first day of Winter, I used a poem by Brecht. He is in exile, after he fled from the Nazis, in his house in Denmark and he stares into his garden. A few days after that Denmark left the UN refugee organization. The quotes often get to the heart of the topic so well that they could stand alone as comments on current themes. Or at least that’s what I hope.

GB: Which research material do you like to use? What are your key sources?

DB: I have a few favourite books. “Theorie der Gartenkunst” (Theory of Garden Art) by Christian Cay Lorenz Hirschfeld. Hirschfeld describes many landscape gardens, although he was never physically in them. He was a strict advocate of the landscape garden. So there’s an ideological struggle against the baroque garden. I borrowed his title for my Blog.
When I need something about shrubs, I always start with Hans Carl von Carlowitz. The currently over-used term “Nachhaltigkeit” (sustainability) makes its debut in his book, “Sylvicultura oeconomica, or haußwirthliche Nachricht und Naturmäßige Anweisung zur wilden-Baum-Zucht …”. The book is about getting enough supply of wood for the mining industry. It is, after all, sustainable practice when you recycle old paper instead of destroying forests for new books.
The American libraries have, in fact, already digitalised many old books and magazines, and not only their English-language publications. The Biodiversity Heritage Library is a treasure trove when you’re looking for something about plants. You can find a good overview of digitised garden literature on the website of the Deutschen Gartenbaubibliothek e.V.(German horticultural Library Association). But the best material is not available in any garden books.  When I see phrases like “satisfied parcels, no bigger than a piece of garden”, I’m just hooked. This is from his first book, “Der schleswig-holsteinische Krieg im Jahre 1864”, where Fontane describes the Knick landscape (hedgerow) in Schleswig-Holstein.

GB: You’re very familiar with the international garden blogging scene. You even prefer some English and Dutch blogs. If I understand you correctly, this medium has not been used in Germany for much more than providing information on plant care. Which type of content would you add?

DB: I wouldn’t say I’m very familiar. For that I’m far too selective. In the first few years after I started getting involved with gardens, I read a lot online and mostly ended up staying with a few English and American blogs. In the German blogs you usually find only “nice flowers” and evil “snails and slugs” that eat your little “lettuce leaves”. Nothing more than over-decorated lifestyle and a bit of a vegan jealousy about food. The same is true for the special decor magazines with their seasonal plants that get distributed here as garden magazines. Please keep it “neat”, “pretty”, “beautiful”, “delightful”, etc. When I hear these words, I usually start zoning out. The only acceptable type of criticism is, ‘I prefer light pink roses’, but yellow ones can also get a like. You’d better stay away from garden design – that’s seen as décor. Whoever rescues “little flowers” from the DIY store, is a hero. The fact that you hereby support a system that exists solely because of chemical input and the exploitation of workers and that destroys smaller nurseries is, of course, kept from you. When your overbred “nice flowers” start shrinking, because they were pumped up in the first place to look good in the DIY store, you shed a little tear. It’s “nature”.

If you want likes in Germany, you only need to use a photo of an insignificant, super-photoshopped rose and then add Gertrude Stein’s tautology over it or underneath, preferably in a handwriting or squiggly font.

GB: And on an institutional level?

DB: Institutions mostly use social media only as a type of newsletter. They hardly write blogs. An intern or volunteer is occasionally allowed to write something. They stay in their official ivory towers, guard their knowledge and think of a publicly funded collection, or historical garden, as their own property. Just look at the whole online discussion under #OpenGlam, #SharingHeritage (on Cultural Heritage Day) and, more recently, #MünchnerNote.
There are no blogs in German that focus on historic gardens. In my opinion, the preservation of monuments and the current use of facilities are themes that particularly warrant discussion. Sometimes I get the impression that historic and/or public gardens and parks are merely treated as event locations these days, to manipulate their visitor statistics.  But, at the same time, their preservation budgets are cut. There is not enough criticism. If you make a garden accessible, you should bank on criticism. This is true for public facilities protected as historic monuments, just as much as for open gardens, whether they are real or digital.  But people still stick to likes… One of my favourite blogs is thinkinGardens by Anne Wareham. In the German language we don’t have anything similar online.

GB: What do you find so special about Anne’s blog?

DB: ThinkinGardens is a forum. Anne Wareham invites people from the gardening sector to write here. And this eventually leads to discussions. Sacred cows might even get slaughtered. You know there’s always a lot of criticism behind closed doors. When you visit a garden that’s considered a “masterpiece”, you often end up standing on the piece of land wondering what it’s supposed to be. But no-one dares to say this out loud or to write about it. Let alone to photograph it. People would rather try and imitate the glossy photo they saw. Not only the amateurs. Especially professionals always find it difficult. They are, after all, part of the system and profit by it. If you do dare to reveal a truer picture, your popularity certainly won’t increase.


GB: In your view, how important are social media sites or apps, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for your success as a garden blogger, and as a garden personality?

DB: Social media spreads the blog. But I tend to be critical. In the German-speaking context you can even neglect it. Social media channels are newsletters. Everything stays in the community, with “friends”. In the English and American contexts there is much more activity. More communication. If you want likes in Germany, you only need to use a photo of an insignificant, super-photoshopped rose and then add Gertrude Stein’s tautology over it or underneath, preferably in a handwriting or squiggly font. Nobody’s interested in a contribution about the use of chemicals in Kenyan rose production.  A rose is a rose and you can buy one for 90 cents at the fuel station. Facebook and its plant and garden groups look a lot like autograph books. Twitter works well as an information channel, especially if you start looking over the German-speaking garden fence.

GB: And Instagram?

DB: I’ve only been on Instagram for about a year. For a long time, I stubbornly refused to get a mobile phone with a camera and internet access. I only pack my camera when I’ve planned something specific. The fact that I can now snap pictures at any time is quite a thing, so I started playing around on Instagram. Now that’s where the results of my twitching fingers end up. Not everything that makes one’s fingers twitch is a photo, though. Instagram, however, is mostly just as soft and cuddly as Facebook. I worked as a photo editor for a long time, and what I can do is narrowly focus my visual blinkers and edit pictures. Makes it easier there …
Some time ago there was a good article on “Architectural Photography in the age of Social Media” in the Architectural Review. The theory was that the architecture media nowadays displays only high gloss images, whereas you can see “polemical snapshots” on, for example, Twitter or Instagram. It’s missing in garden photography, though. Social media makes it possible to reveal that which the marketing and advertising departments, who control the content today, don’t make public. Just look at the online discussions about #brutalism. Where are the pictures of the gardens and green spaces from the 1950s, 60s and 70s which are under threat of being demolished? Where are the photos that show the neglected state of our public greens? Where are the photos that show the working conditions in large nurseries or the desperate self-exploitation, without which the small and medium businesses wouldn’t function? There are, however, some initiatives. If you want to look at gravel gardens, take a look at Gärten des Grauens on Facebook. We need more of this, please!

I find the use of shrubs in hedges, how these shape the landscape, or orchards much more interesting than another bed of roses or a prairie planting. Oops, did I really say that?

GB: What do you see as blogger success?

DB: This thing about success as a blogger isn’t an issue for me. I don’t really tend to look at my statistics on followers and likes. Numbers don’t interest me. I also have no desire to become part of commerical co-operations and things like that. It’s better to have one like or a retweet from a person who has understood what it’s all about, than 10 comments saying something like, “How beautiful.”
My friend had started a blog about Harzer Fuhrherren when he suggested “you should also pack your garden stuff onto a blog”. I played around a bit, still do. My first “success” came from the Netherlands. Gerritjan Deunk, who passed away last year, suddenly started sharing some of my things on Facebook in the OnzeEigenTuin group and when there was a link in the newsletter of the Tuinhistorisch Genootschap Cascade, I thought: what I’m doing here might not be such bullshit after all.
What I don’t understand is the algorithm that measures reaction to a blog. It shows false success, because there are no discussions. But I always build in some templates ….

GB: I’m with you on that. With my blog, I also originally wanted to force exchanges among those interested in gardens. I had these open-content ideals in mind. In reality, no exchange ever takes place. Let’s get back to you. What, in the area of gardens, is grabbing your attention at the moment?

DB: At the moment, it’s the relationship between garden and landscape. Garden is culture, not nature. We talk about garden culture or garden art – art in the sense of arts et métiers or craft, and not of the romantic cult of the genius, like some garden designers would prefer. The landscape is a cultural one. We don’t have “natural” landscapes anymore. I find the use of shrubs in hedges, how these shape the landscape, or orchards much more interesting than another bed of roses or a prairie planting. Oops, did I really say that? Our view of the cultural landscape also sharpens our focus on the possibilities for gardens in this area.
Clemenswerth, is a garden that illustrates this theme of garden and landscape. It’s a hunting lodge on the edge of Hümmling im Emsland, which has a few pavilions inside a hunting star. One of the pavilions is a monastery with a monastery garden and hermitage and fantastic hedges from the 18th century. Now I’ve somehow arrived at Schlaun again.
While we’re on hold, on this theme I have a few topics I’m thinking about, so I’ll need to visit a library again. These themes are mostly from the pre- and post-war era and very little is digitised, because either the copyright has not expired yet or there is almost no literature available on the theme. The bit that is online, thus far, we can do without.

GB: Gardens that you like? Your garden tips?

DB: Often there are some particular aspects, or details, of a garden or things that for most others probably have nothing to do with “gardens” that really fascinate me. In my head, I have a type of mood board showing what “my garden” could look like. It’s always restricted by what is possible on the location and what is already available. My own garden is, after all, only an experimental bed in front of my house and a few pots with plants. Then I plan in my head. It’s a truly wild mix: “Spring”, a copperplate engraving by Pieter Bruegel t.E.; Topiary Lawn in Great Dixter; Birkenweg (birch lane) in the Liebermann Villa garden; Crambe maritima in Derek Jarman’s garden; Gartenlauben by Margarete Schütte-Lihotsky for the Neue Frankfurt; Jane Wyman reads “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau in “All that Heaven Allows” by Douglas Sirk; “Bella Vista” by Arne Jacobsen for the Herrenhäuser Gärten; washed concrete slab in Tuinen Mien Ruys; “Patio and Pavillion” by Allison & Peter Smithson; Nigel Hendersonand Eduardo Paolozzi for the exhibition “This is Tomorrow”; “Porten i Slugten / The Gate in the Gorge” by Richard Serra in the Park of the Louisiana Museum; Pollarded willows and a orchard  with “Dülmener Herbstrosenapfel’ and ‘Winterköttelbirne’ – to accompany the curly kale. My tip would be only this: don’t look at conventional gardens. Cultural landscapes, fallow land, ruderal species and Stinzenpflanzen. You can also find a garden on a picture, in a text or in a film.

GB: Dear Detlev, thank you so much. This was so much fun on the one hand and on the other, I can’t wait to start reading!

DB: Now I need something plant-based, Coffea arabica or c. canephora and Nicotiana tabacum ….