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Your green. Our city. - Stories

Stand: 28.05.2024

Five stories from urban society

"I immediately fell in love with this place." - A glimpse of the green inner courtyard

There are places that touch the soul. With great attention to detail, Uwe Hauke has created such a place in his courtyard in Obere Karlstraße.

A place to dream. To arrive. The hustle and bustle of the nearby city is suddenly far away. When Uwe Hauke closes the massive wooden gate that separates his flower store and, above all, the adjoining courtyard from the rest of the world, he can enjoy his refuge to the full.

Of course, he also shares this place of peace. Lets you look. Marvels. But in the evenings, he likes to have it to himself, this rectangular paradise with an unobstructed view of the sky. "I immediately fell in love with this place," says Uwe Hauke. That was 17 years ago. A lot has happened since then, a true metamorphosis has taken place in this courtyard. Old photographs show a functional place with space for garbage cans, bicycles, garbage and junk. Even then, Uwe Hauke saw more, sensed the potential, the beauty of what was possible - and he rolled up his sleeves.

After work, the state-certified florist and graduate of the state technical college for floral art becomes a gardener. He creates flower beds, moves paving stones, pulls a chestnut tree out of a chestnut tree that, still growing proudly in a tub, has now become a shade-providing umbrella for a cozy seating area.

"Back then, everyone thought I was crazy," laughs Uwe Hauke. Even today, he is still amazed by the result. "The courtyard is constantly evolving, changing with the seasons and my ideas. I try things out here, redesign and find a different challenge every day where I can let off steam."

However, his playground not only produces chestnut trees, but also strawberries and sweet potatoes, which Uwe Hauke sometimes grows in tubs. He has only partially removed the base plates to be on the safe side with the pipes and cables hidden in the ground. "You can achieve a lot with buckets," says Uwe Hauke. If an experiment is successful, he shares the experience he has gained. Exchange is important to him. As is a feel for the little things.

If you step back in time a little in Uwe Hauke's courtyard, let your gaze wander and your soul dangle, you will constantly discover new things that delight the heart and eyes. The courtyard as a hidden object, arranged by someone with a sense of atmosphere and aesthetics. "In these fast-paced times, I think people need to learn to see again and develop a sense for the beautiful little things," says Hauke. The bright purple of the lavender. The old, gnarled lilac. The contented buzzing of the bees. "Dawdling is resistance to hecticness" is written in large letters on a calendar page in "Hauke's garden house". Pausing has never been easier.

A real affair of the heart - short film about a working day with the "little giants"

Trees fascinate Hans-Josef Werner. Fortunately, the Stadtgrün employee has to deal with the green giants almost every day. He makes sure that the roots of the young trees get enough water even in high temperatures.

He had considered going into construction or starting another apprenticeship, but gardening simply suited him better. His father was already a gardener and cultivated fruit trees at home in the family tree nursery. So Hans-Josef Werner seemed to have been born to be a nursery gardener. Further training a few years ago to become a specialist in arboriculture and tree restoration was more than a logical consequence. Hans-Josef Werner has found his calling.

He has been working for Erlangen's city green department since 1993, taking care of the city's replacement planting, among other things. Over the years, he has planted around 2,500 trees, 100 a year. "I've known many of the trees since I was a child and have watched them grow ever since." To ensure that this is particularly successful, Hans-Josef Werner also makes sure that the young trees in the city always get enough water. From mid-April to mid-September, this is part of his everyday work. To do this, Hans-Josef Werner is always on the road with a tractor and tanker trailer. Maneuvering with the vehicle is "sometimes millimeter work" and watering can be done on a larger scale. A tree like that is thirsty. Hans-Josef Werner starts his work early so that all the trees in the urban area get their money's worth and is already on the road when the city is just waking up.

Drawing water from the nearby Schwabach and Regnitz open waters, he chauffeurs the water directly in front of each tree, rakes up the soil so that the water can seep in better and evaporate less (raking once saves watering twice). He connects the hose to the tanker and then waters until a small pond forms around the trunk. While the water seeps away, the watering process is documented. Because every tree in Erlangen has a number. In particularly hot periods, they even get a top-up. If the soil is heavily compacted or the site is heavily trafficked, a drainage tube is inserted into some trees when they are planted. This is inserted into the tree disc at root ball height and facilitates both aeration of the roots and watering. Hans-Josef Werner has been doing his job routinely for a long time. Every move is perfect. In some vehicles, he can water the trees without getting out thanks to the so-called watering arm. It's quicker, safer on busy roads and the drivers of the cars behind him don't have to wait as long.

However, some people sometimes take the work off his hands: "They say: you don't have to water back there, I'll take care of it." Because young trees in particular are susceptible to heat and sometimes have to withstand high temperatures at the trunk in summer, he paints them white. "It works like sun cream for us." He is particularly fascinated by large trees. "I've seen five or six large tree plantations so far, with a wheel loader. With several men, we were often busy for hours, everyone had to pitch in," he recalls. Today, an external company with heavy equipment does it in a fraction of the time. A few years ago, Hans-Josef Werner accompanied the transplanting of an oak tree, which a colleague documented for him in a photo album. "I still leaf through it sometimes today, and it makes me very proud." This is why the City Greenery Department / Hans-Josef Werner and the City Greenery Department plant young trees with a trunk circumference of 16 to 18 cm all the more frequently. These adapt more quickly to the location and require significantly less care.

From tree to mouth

In his garden, Serdar Gökkus enjoys what he once planted himself. In the Mönauwald forest, the Erlanger-by-choice also keeps ten bee colonies. Fruit and honey in abundance.

He had always dreamed of having his own garden. Serdar Gökkus likes to treat himself to some time out here. In summer, when the evening sun shines through the treetops, he sometimes just sits there and nibbles from the trees he has planted himself. Cherries, peaches, plums, pears and apples - plucked from the tree straight into his mouth. "It's a great feeling," laughs the computer scientist.

He planted his first tree a good nine years ago. Many more followed. "My wife and I never wanted an ornamental garden, we always wanted to be a bit self-sufficient with the garden, grow our own fruit and vegetables, eat them naturally or make jam," says Serdar Gökkus. Tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries also come from their own garden. As does the mint for the tea. Of course, there were a few challenges. "First of all, we had to find the right soil, because it turned out that the soil in our garden is not necessarily suitable for fruit trees." Then there were diseases, aphids and leaf infestation. "I do a lot of reading and research on my own, and I also learn from other people in online forums or via social media."

Fortunately, Serdar Gökkus is a tinkerer. Someone who likes to try out new things and has gradually realized his idea of a garden paradise. "I've tried out a lot to date. You just have to be prepared to learn from your mistakes and not be discouraged." An attitude that also applies to Serdar Gökku's second passion. Just a few minutes away by bike, in the heart of the Mönauwald forest, Serdar Gökku's bees are buzzing. The young beekeeper and his son Efe have now built a magnificent home for ten bee colonies. Serdar Gökkus is certain that both his honey bees and wild bees are busy in the family garden and on the trees. Everything comes together here.

An island for insects

"There, look, a bumblebee!" Dorothea Kämpf has dedicated the limited space on her south-facing balcony in Erlangen to bees, ladybugs and other insects. Since this spring, she has been consistently redesigning it in a natural way.

Watering, snipping off a few wilted flowers, putting up the yellow parasols and enjoying everything that grows, hums and buzzes there. For Dorothea Kämpf, going out onto the balcony in the morning has become a routine that she no longer wants to do without. For a few months now, she has been transforming her few square meters into a veritable insect and bee paradise with the means at her disposal. She was inspired and euphoric by the successful "biodiversity referendum" in Bavaria and a lecture on nature-oriented gardens and balconies, which imparted practical knowledge. "It takes more than just putting soil in a pot, squeezing in a few seeds and watering. But it's the learning that gives me pleasure."

Every flower pot presents a different challenge, every plant has its own needs. "Poppies, for example, are a frost germinator," says Dorothea Kämpf. Snail shells are not only decorative, they also serve as nesting aids for wild bees. Plants hate waterlogging and should be planted in peat-free soil for ecological reasons. Bumblebees sometimes spend the night in bellflower blossoms. Nettle broth is a natural fertilizer and helps against aphids. But it is even better to let their natural enemies, the ladybug larvae, onto the balcony. Dorothea Kämpf doesn't use chemicals at all: "I only have organic food for bees on my balcony," she smiles. And that comes in the form of a rich selection of different wild flowers. It's not just bees that don't care for geraniums, Dorothea Kämpf does too. Instead, marigolds, spider flowers, poppies, nasturtiums, clover, cornflowers, lemon balm and bluebells thrive on her balcony. "And I still know far too few plants. It's unbelievable that I've always walked past meadows without knowing what's actually growing there."

Dorothea Kämpf has long found her balcony "much more exciting than television". And her dog Kito also feels at home here. Dorothea Kämpf cultivates her curiosity like her plants. She wants to learn. From people who know their stuff. But also to be a role model herself, to infect others with her own enthusiasm. "We all need to rethink. Understand that nature conservation can start on our balcony. Not everyone has to do it as extensively as I do. A few boxes of bee-friendly wildflowers are enough." Her efforts are paying off. Her balcony is buzzing and humming. She has made several bee hotels out of tin cans and layered bamboo brood tubes. Most of them are occupied. Birds find nesting material made from sheep's wool, moss and fine, dry grass on Dorothea Kämpf's balcony.

Dorothea Kämpf finds many balconies "terribly bare". She doesn't like minimalist garden trends such as rolled turf and gravel. "My balcony certainly has a different concept, a different aesthetic. It can and should sprawl and grow wild. It's a natural counter-design to German thoroughness." And certainly an example of rethinking greenery. For Dorothea Kämpf, being allowed to make mistakes is also part of the process. She advocates more education: "We have to pick people up in their everyday lives and support them in practical implementation. Ideally from an early age. Those who become enthusiastic about nature and its protection at an early age will keep this enthusiasm for the rest of their lives. And also have the courage to carry on if the seeds don't sprout straight away."

Wisteria for Zarmina

When the house at Gebbertstrasse 37 had just been built and the pergola with the three wisteria plants was freshly planted, Zarmina Mamozai was still a patient at Dr. Margot Wortmann's gynaecology practice. She only comes in for routine examinations. She feels well, but can't put her finger on why. She took over the practice in 2018 and learned to appreciate her hanging garden. "There's always something new to see in spring. I can't help but keep taking photos," says Zarmina Mamozai. In one of the many pictures that accompany her on her cell phone, the blue rain proudly climbs up the scaffolding and shows off its magnificent flowers. The enthusiasm for the sight is infectious.

Chasing away the dull gray

The façade greenery in Gebbertstrasse can do much more than just look good, however. Just like insect-friendly balconies or lovingly designed, flowering backyards, green façades drive the dull gray out of the city. Zarmina Mamozai has a stressful working day as a gynecologist. The greenery in front of the building and the small garden behind the office help her to stay relaxed. "When I look out of my window, I don't even notice that I'm actually in the middle of the city," she says. The climbing plants on the façade also have a cold and heat-insulating effect, which is a particular advantage in the hot summer months. The noise from the adjacent busy road is also kept outside the practice door thanks to the insulating effect. The greenery also filters pollutants out of the air.

Green and lively

The green wall in front of Zarmina Mamozai's practice really comes to life in the summer months from May onwards. Birds find food and breeding grounds under the protection of the wisteria. For bees and bumblebees, the plant is an important source of food. While it hums and buzzes outside the waiting room, it remains quiet inside. "We don't have any problems with mosquitoes or other uninvited visitors," says Zarmina Mamozai. The building management takes care of the façade. But that is no argument for her to relinquish responsibility. "If the property management decided at some point that it was too much work for them, I would lend a hand myself. My greenery would be worth the work!"

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