Thursday, June 14, 2007

Adventure Ecotour of Germany 2007: Discovering Saxony's Secret Green Architecture and Gardens: Why Germany?

Annoucing Green Harmony Tours':

Adventure Ecotour of Germany 2007: Discovering Saxony's Secret Green Architecture and Gardens

V. Why Germany?

Thank you for your interest in our unique regenerative design tour of Middle Germany highlighting a forgotten area of Germany with its many beautiful gardens, parks, and landscapes, but also the ecological designs found in all aspects of the larger society including agriculture, architecture, arts, brownfield reuse, design heritage, industrial design, industry, renewable energy, technology, transportation, and so on.

While Germany is perhaps more known for its old world charm, today the country has undertaken a leadership role in all facets of sustainable and ecological living. Germany recycles the most paper of any country in the world, has the world largest solar power plant, is committed to phasing out nuclear power, the federal government is actively promoting the use of renewable resources produced from agricultural crops, such as hemp and flax, global warming is being dealt with directly by joining the Kyoto Protocol and whole towns and cities are focused on phasing out fossil fuels and increasing their use of renewable energy, the precedent setting federal law requiring product manufacturers to take back their packaging for reuse or recycling thereby reducing waste, roofgardens are required in some cities to improve the air quality and beauty of the surroundings, the automobile’s presence is being lessened in inner cities and towns so its citizens may enjoy a better and safer living environment with less noise, pollution, and more room for pedestrians, architects are designing buildings that creative and less detrimental to the environment, and landscape architects design memorable and natural gardens and parks.

All of this green thinking and living is admirable, but in Germany it permeates to a larger consciousness of living in harmony with the Earth. This ideology has shown itself recently as the country passed the first animal rights law giving animals the same rights as humans. Germans also enjoy very much being in their gardens and in nature, and place a high priority on having plants all around them, even in urban environments. Freie Koerper Kultur (free body culture) or public displays of nudity was popularized in Germany many years ago and is still enjoyed today, as can be seen in downtown Berlin in its many public parks. Instead of relying on harsh chemicals at swimming pools, Germany has started what are called “swimming ponds” that recreate the natural cleansing processes that take place in ponds in a larger size to allow safe and nontoxic swimming with frogs and fish.

In Germany there exists a gardening culture where people actually live with their gardens providing food, aesthetic beauty, a place for physical activity, and stress relief. Furthermore a natural, ecological garden style, with a certain degree of a wild aesthetic, prevails where people grow perennials and grasses, generally don’t mind some wild plants, and allow the garden to grow to its full exuberance, or as we call this in the US, “to become overgrown”. This natural garden aesthetic allows humans to derive some use of the space, but also is crucial to humans feeling one with nature, and furthermore, is vital to wildlife’s health and continued survival. In this scenario, nature is not seen as a force to be combated, but to be enjoyed and brought into our lives. Examples abound of this strong horticultural ethic from the “Schrebergaerten” or community gardens found in every city where apartment dwellers spend their free time growing fruit trees, vegetables, and flowers organized in orderly rectangular grids, to the bountiful flowers proudly displayed around many houses and buildings in towns and cities, to richly planted school gardens, to the intensively planted and well maintained burial sites in cemeteries that people visit often and function as public parks, to the use of dry stacked natural stone retaining walls, and to the “Obstwiese” or orchard meadow.

One of the most important examples of Germany’s strong garden culture is the one of its kind “Bundesgartenschau” (BUGA) or Federal Garden Show, hosted in a different German city every two years. The garden show is the Olympics of the landscape architecture and horticulture professions with a large budget from federal, state, and city funding. There are design competitions for the master plan and each of the various concept areas. Millions of visitors typically visit the show which runs from spring to fall and thereafter continues as a public, urban park. The garden show typically includes large planting areas, a conference building, various dining facilities, music performances, seating areas, recreational facilities for all ages, landscape artworks, cemetery space, agricultural fields, a sustainable natural resources exhibit where hemp is prominent, and wildlife habitat. Serious investments in infrastructure include new roads, trains, busses, and pedestrian facilities. These innovative garden shows were started over fifty years ago to help rebuild war ruined cities and continues to this day. Over the past decade, several shows have taken place in eastern Germany greatly improving cities with new infrastructure and healthier, green living spaces.

The “Landesgartenschau” (LAGA) or State Garden Show, while not as big as the federal show, gives one a more intimate flavor of the local region and is hosted every year in different towns and cities in Germany.

Adventure Ecotours of Germany was developed and is under the authority of Green Harmony Tours, a tour company promoting cultural and ideas exchange between Americans and Germans of progressive, green, environmentally friendly, sustainable, and socially equitable concepts with the goal of helping humanity live in harmony with Nature and each other. To learn more about our tours, please visit our website at

No portion of this document may be reproduced without the express written consent of the Green Harmony Tours’ director, Roland Oehme. Opinions expressed in this document are not necessarily endorsed by Green Harmony Tours’ officers or staff. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.