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Outdoor bronze bust of Queen Luise decorated with berries and seeds.

A report from Berlin, the former headquarters of Urban Plant Research. While I’ve been busy getting oriented amongst the tropical flora of Hawaii, my friend Dorothee of Lilienfeld sent in this report from the grounds of Schloss Charlottenburg. She found the station of Queen Luise thus decorated. She notes that the pearl earrings are made of snowberries. These are also known as “Knallerbsen,” the German term for the small novelty explosives now in English as bang-snaps or poppers. Was it the Queen’s birthday? Or did the fall abundance of horse chestnuts and berries inspire an impromptu decorating session? I don’t know, but I am charmed.

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Very green overgrown playground with barely visible swing set.

Lichtenberg native Martin Hill writes that he just rediscovered this playground in his district on the corner of Friedenhorster Straße and Splanemannstraße. He explains that it dates back to East German days and is now beautifully overgrown — once in awhile, the plants will be cut back, only to be forgotten and left to cover the area once again. Once again, thanks for a lovely contribution, Martin!

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Small plant growing out of crack in a driveway under a boom barrier in Berlin-Mitte.

At the Ewerk, an electrical substation turned techno club turned upscale event location in Berlin-Mitte, Martin Hill found this plant playing bouncer in the driveway, right below the red-and-white striped barrier. Thank you, Martin!

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Ivy-leaved toadflax growing out of a crack in a stone wall

Our friend Martin Hill is a Lichtenberg native, so we were glad he came out to our urban plants discussion at the Lichtenberg Studios last month with his wife Steffi. Over the weekend, they sent in their first contribution to the project: a small plant growing out of a crack in an ancient stone wall in the small Bavarian town of Pappenheim. It looks like an ivy-leaved toadflax, aka Kenilworth ivy, to me — Zimbelkraut or Zimbel-Mauerkraut in German — which often makes its home in stony gaps and cracks.

Photograph courtesy of Martin Hill.

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View from above of a green, fern-filled courtyard garden

It was at an edible urban plants walk (led by artist Karola Schlegelmilch seven years ago) that I first met Deborah S. Phillips, an artist based in Berlin-Neukölln. Since then our paths have crossed regularly; we seem to share a lot of different interests besides plants, such as visual art and translation. After attending our plant discussion in Lichtenberg, Deborah sent this photo of her courtyard, which she’s been caring for. More about that and many other things on her blog: http://deborahsp.wordpress.com

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Plant walks at the lake, around the train station, in parks and in a graveyard — our week as artists in residence at Lichtenberg Studios flew by. On Friday, a few days before our departure, we hosted a plant talk and discussion, featuring the video diary of our Lichtenberg explorations above.

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Tree stump in large hole in brick wall

This winter, two trees in Hasselt, Belgium managed to deliver a blow to a brick wall in a café parking lot, reports local designer Pablo Hannon, who sent these pictures from the scene of the battle.

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