From Berlin’s science and tech campus in Adlershof, this picture was sent in by Marko Förstel, who recently encountered a large newcomer among the plants in the oval lobby of an office building on Albert-Einstein-Straße.
Two surprises awaited me this past Saturday as I took a walk from Neukölln to Kreuzberg, getting acclimated in Berlin again after a week in the heat of Spain. First, I realized that one of my favorite greenmarkets, the “Turkish market” (held on Tuesdays and Fridays on Maybachufer), has spun off a third, Saturday market dedicated to fabrics and handcrafts. There, I was doubly surprised to find an airy, minimal stand in shades of dusty green and creamy white, offering an array of strange air plants with nary a root or speck of soil in sight.
Fake plastic trees in an old East Berlin clinic with vintage sign.
A winter view from back in January, with a tropical plant and a gaggle of amaryllis framed by windows, stuck inside by the winter snow. Today, the sun has melted the last of the snow away; Berliners – people and plants alike – are turning their faces towards the rare rays. It feels a little like spring, only the trees are still bare and, it being only the beginning of February, we know there could still be snowstorms and chilly days ahead.
Berlin-based jade plant in American expatriate household showed sudden interest in US politics Wednesday morning, apparently celebrating Barack Obama’s re-election.
Not all urban plants sprout up uninvited on the mean sidewalks of the city. Indeed, in Berlin, planting the balcony is a spring ritual for many. Those without balconies, like myself, have adopted bits of land in community gardens. It’s still too early for many plants to be planted outdoors, but seedlings are being started in apartments around the city.
Spotted last month on Soquel Avenue, the main drag in the sunny beach town of Santa Cruz, California. This luxuriant viny plant is hurrying up a high wall to join hordes of fellow plants, sitting in a row in little pots. I would love to go back in a year and see if the vine has reached its goal! For that matter, I’d love to go back right now – here in 15 C-below-freezing Berlin, there’s not much greenery to observe or much motivation for going outdoors.
If you are a person of patience, or need a reminder that time is cyclical, get a Christmas cactus. Like most flowering plants, it blooms but once a year. But how it blooms! In contrast to its usual compact, green, nondescript form, my plant dons so many bodacious red blossoms each December that it literally doubles in size. Thank you to Oma Uschi for giving us this plant four years ago. As you can see from this recent photo, it’s still going strong.
What about you, readers? Any of you have winter-blooming plants in your lives?
Recently, I noticed that even my houseplant is losing leaves. As fall comes to a close, it seems to be happening in my apartment as well as outside. The Christmas season has arrived here too, meaning that our potted Norfolk Pine is having its annual star turn as a Christmas tree. It may look a bit odd, but it’s nice not to have to throw out a Christmas tree in January and the pine makes an amiable roommate during the rest of the year.