In case you are considering a change, summer is a wonderful time to move to Bavaria. The garden culture is pervasive here. The plant love is literally pouring over the balconies and out of the windows on almost every house. Someone must have known that the gardener in me would fall in love with Franconia fastest if I moved here during gardening season.
Everyone with a yard has a garden full of blooms, and everyone else has a balcony garden or at least window boxes. The yards are cottage gardens for the most part, not too formal. Lots of roses, holly hocks, hibiscus, hydrangea, cosmos, rudbeckia and gladiola. Almost all the balcony gardens and window boxes are bejeweled with waves of petunias and cascades of red geraniums; it seems everyone from this part of the world takes pride in their plants.
Feeling inspired, I became obsessed with putting together our balcony garden as soon as I arrived. A look through the ads in the weekend paper is a lesson on what to plant. The ads change as the season progresses but even drug stores and grocers are advertising plants for sale. When I arrived the garden centers were already selling Mums and now there is a big push for what we know in the states as “Heather.” Here it is called “Erika.” Sadly my chances for Petunias and Geraniums was passed but luckily it seems that balcony gardens are essential in Bavaria, so there were plenty of possibilities. I opted for a fuschias, with a mix of perennial herbs and seasonal kitchen lettuces.
Buying the lettuces was one of my first shopping adventures. There I was in the garden center and I saw the lettuces. But there was a sign in front of them. I pulled out my dictionary app and realized that the sign basically said, “Don’t help yourself.”
So I was faced with two options: being brave and asking for help or leaving without lettuce. (I was really leaning toward leaving.) Until…I saw a staff member scold a German guy for helping himself. He had not read the sign. She showed it to him and he excused himself sheepishly, saying he didn’t see it.
I thought to myself,
“Just be brave. You read the sign and you’re not even German.”
I walked around a while longer and finally got up the nerve to go ask for help.
I said,”Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie Englisch?”
“Nein.” She said. (No smile…)
“Just be brave,” I thought to myself, “Don’t run away. You can do it.”
So I continued,
“Ein bisschen Englisch?” (A little English?)
“Nein,” again, still no smile, ” but this time she added something that meant, “how can I help you?”
I smiled, so happy that I understood her, and said, “Dieses bitte” (this please) to each lettuce that I wanted. She wrapped them for me and I said “Dankeschön” with a big smile because I really felt like it was an accomplishment. When I completed my transaction at the cash register without using any English at all, the whole day was a homerun!
The following photos were all taken of some of the balconies and window gardens around Forchheim in the last 2 months.
All photographs are property of Being an American, Becoming a Franconian and may not be reproduced or used without written permission.