Fun Fall Container Gardening
Ecological preserves, gardens, public and private parks are the feather in Northern Europe’s cap.
New techniques, developments and trends in gardening mainly come from the Netherlands, Great Britain, Belgium and Scandinavian countries. The importance given to contentedness to nature and to activities such as gardening gets to such an extent in Northern European the prize for the best city to live in usually goes to a town of one among its countries.
Love and respect for nature are deeply rooted in Northern cultures. Start-ups promoting a sustainable lifestyle are making out of cities such as Stockholm, Berlin, Amsterdam, Dublin, Edinburgh and Oslo an example for towns willing to turn “more green” in the future.
This not only implies the choice of bicycles, public transport, car sharing and electric means of transport when it comes to commuting, but also the implementation of sustainable architecture and the integration of the landscape into buildings.
Just keep in mind that in Denmark bikes outnumber cars, 99% of Swedish garbage is recycled and Finnish schools are highest rated ones in the world, as kids are constantly connected with nature and its teachings.
Both public and private parks are, as a consequence, seen as a space of relax and enjoyment on the one hand and as an essential source of life to always be taken into account on the other hand. The care of green spaces has always been a spontaneous gesture. This is a consequence of the frigid climate and of the attempts of the inhabitants to try and make the most out of it.
Going further North, we can see how Siberian winds influence temperatures, especially in winter. Scandinavian wood culture is deeply rooted into the climate aspect characterizing this territory.
On the one hand, climate conditions makes ithard to have a productive agriculture in the area (with the exception of potatoes, grown in some milder areas), one the other hand controlled and cautious wood production allows for a world-renowned and prosperous market.
Even if it can prove to be hostile sometimes, such a direct connection with nature has enabled inhabitants of these areas to develop their tenacity and to sharpen their wits when it comes to face extreme climatic conditions.
When a house or a neighborhood is designed, the presence of a green space and exposure to the sun are the main features to be considered. In addition to the use of wood, open spaces with wide glass walls opening the horizon towards the garden – and, for the luckiest ones, towards unsoiled sprawls – are often envisaged.
The time spent gardening brings multiple benefits. First, it fulfills the visual need for space and tidiness; also, it gives the chance to spend some time outdoors, if the weather allows.
During our virtual trip to Northern Europe we’ll find out that the latest trend in gardening is to make the most of gardens all year long, not only during spring but also in winter.
English landscape parks are the most spread and recognizable kind of garden. In contrast to Italian and French style, they are free from any structure, barriers and geometrical hedges.
The basic is to preserve the wildness of nature, and at the same time not to leave anything to chance. If you think this kind of garden doesn’t need maintenance, you’re wrong. Pruning, mowing and daily care of the plants are tasks to be devoutly performed to achieve that unique sense of “tidiness and elegance”.
Other than being really popular all over Britain, English landscape parks are widespread in Germany too. The Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm, not far away from the capital city of German rationalism, is a magnificent example. A UNESCO designated World Heritage Site, they surround classical style building and they are the most “natural” version of formal Italian gardens and of their carefully shaped hedges. In fact, topiary is a typical feature of green areas we can find in front of historical Renaissance, neoclassical and imperial buildings.
German realm of parks and botanical gardens is very diverse, but they all host cultural and educational events for families, or festivals and other activities for young people.
As the city with the highest number of parks in Europe – 2500! – Berlin makes a good example of it. Lietzenseepark in Charlottenburg is a park where Berliners hang out all year long, it has dedicated areas for kids and it also has a magnificent lake which freezes in winter, allowing people to ice-skate on it.
Keukenhof, in Holland, features the world’s largest tulip field; no surprise this leads us to guess this flower has the ability to take roots even in a region of Europe that is not renowned for its mild climate.
Northern Europeans are renowned for their ability to carefully select flowers and to select the best feature of every variety they are willing to grow. Coeur d’Alsace rose violet, Hercules Irish reticulata, the thousand different coloured varieties of crocus, Anemone hortensis and the different varieties of perennial snowdrop are just some examples.
Holland also has enormous natural reserves, giving the chance to experience exciting itineraries surrounded by arts and nature, such as National Park de Hoge Veluwe and its Kroller Muller Museum.
In addition to the museum center, where works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Mondrian are exhibited, modern and contemporary sculptures and art installation can be admired in the park. This is a magnificent open-air museum, and it’s so wide that a map is given to visitors alongside with the entrance ticket.
As we move further north and get to Scandinavian peninsula, the tidiness and harmony the spaces are organised into follow the formal Italian style, with a preeminent northern mark. To take care of delicate seeds and plants in a greenhouse is a pretty common habit.
Despite the fact spaces and flowerbeds are usually geometrically shaped, the use of wood, stone and gravel gives two specific feelings: rustic and Zen. This result is given but spontaneous and perennial plants, easily growing in cold climates and with few months of sunlight exposure.
When we talk about Scandinavian style and design we usually refer to a specific geographic area, plus Denmark and Island, and to few simple rules: simplicity, locally sourced materials, importance given to space and light.
As already mentioned, wide glass walls in houses act as they were a big TV screen “broadcasting” the owner’s garden. No need to mention northern lawns are flawless: from mowing to pruning, including hedges. However, flawless doesn’t mean obsessively perfect: care and dedication coexist with the natural inclination of nature towards newness and authenticity.
This way, what we see as a weed can become a beautiful addition to our garden if properly positioned and taken care of.
When we talk about gardening trends form Northern Europe we can’t miss to mention landscaper architect and panting designer Piet Oudolf. An internationally acknowledged and awarded personality, he designed his first garden in Sweden 15 years ago and he’s now got to the big parks of Chicago and Manhattan. His work has significantly influenced the way of conceiving green spaces in cold climates. Years of study, passion, precision and an uncommon sensitivity have led him to the detailed creation of a four-season park.
Why waiting spring to have a neat, colourful, suggestive and pleasant garden?
As flowers are bound to wither, he has selected some perennial plants with differences in shape and structure in his plant nursery in the surroundings of Amsterdam. He wisely matched stalks, stems and pods as they were architectonic elements and he filled his ideal garden with herbs, grasses, and perennial plants, following a logic he’s improved over the years.
He has them alternated following their different blossoming and flowering timings, so they give a different “color impression” to the garden according to the season. The final result is dreamy: wind makes the dandelions and other ethereal flowers and plants to fluctuate, the same way it would do with ears of wheat.
If cold weather and snow usually force us to witness the wilting of our garden, the Perennial Garden allows us to enjoy a snow-clad and enchanted view, as it develops in height thanks to its modular structure. On the top of that, the addition of some topiary elements will “close the circle” of this still unfamiliar to Southern Europe new trend.
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