15 September 2008, 13:25
A park in Berlin
Biking through this large park for the first time, I came upon three garden workers taming large hedges with a few small chainsaws, a wheelbarrow, a few rakes, a hoe and a picnic bench (Bierbank, beer bench, is what they’re called in Germany). I stopped to talk to them. In three days, they have to get a dozen of these huge, bushy hedges rectangular. Usually, the bushes are also trimmed in the spring, but this year, the fall trim is the first one they’ve been granted.
The workers are cheerful and unfazed by the work of trimming the bushes, a little sheepish about the picnic bench, which is not up to work safety spec. But what they’re much more concerned about is the trash problem. Every Monday, they say, the park is strewn — all the containers are full and some are burning — grillers have dumped hot coals in them. Their record so far was 250 trash bags in just this corner of the park. But now they’ve finished their cigarettes and returned to work. They take turns steadying the bench, trimming the hedge and raking up the cuttings.
I wonder how they feel about plants and parks — if they go to parks themselves? Have plants at home? Are they proud of their work? I asked one worker and he said two of them are trained gardeners, the other was trained as a horse-shoer. He says, of course he still goes to parks for fun — he has a dog and they go for walks. “A park is a park,” he says.