Welcome Home

Hello, hello!  I’m back, safe and alive and I got proof:

Although some of you might have even think I succumbed over shingles, well keep in mind that I’m like bindweed: I never die.

It’s been a very, very, very hot and dry summer. It didn’t last long, thank God, but it heated enough to burn a good part of my garden, I’ve lost some plants to drought and moles and the great part of my summer glories lasted too short, erased by a merciless sun. Add to the picture that I couldn’t stay ahead with weeding and you obtain a rough idea of the mess my garden looks like. Result: a massive loss of interest in gardening and a total closure about the blogging thing. I’ve been missing you, though, I guess I’ll have a bit of a catch up to do now.

We just spend a week in Berlin, climate there is definitely cooler than Italy, barely chilly I’d say, but fortunately as soon as we came back home the weather had changed here too and the hot summer seems to have left space to some rainfall and some reasonable temps. Living in the garden seems possible again and despite the weeds and other issues I feel I can still make some projects.

But I’ll tell you about my garden in further posts, I’d like to tell you something about Berlin today. It’s been on my wish-list for a long time and I’m very happy I could finally pay it a visit. It’s a big city, bigger than I’d expected but very easy to walk around and with good public transport (underground stations look rather shabby and bare, though) , a great number of places to eat (worryingly too much, I’d say), great museums, great modern architecture mixed up with what remained of the German neoclassic after the War. I liked living the city and hanging around wondering whether I was on the East or West side of the Wall. Nowadays, after more than 20 years the ex-GDR looks even more modern than the West Side, yet the presence of the Wall is very strong, not as a boundary anymore but as a deep wound that is difficult to heal. I don’t want to talk about politics here, I’m not the right person and I’m not even in the right place for such topics, I’d just like to share with you what I felt during this trip.

Visiting the German Parliament didn’t leave me indifferent either. A fence made with laser-carved transparent panels read the German Constitution, consonant rich words floating and glistening in the air, over those powerful buildings.

The Jewish Museum is a place everybody should pay a visit to. The building is a masterpiece itself, with empty spaces (called Voids) capable of provoking strong feelings to the visitors.

The East Side Gallery and the Checkpoint Charlie are other two spots that impressed me a lot. The Wall thing, as I wrote above, but also all those Graffiti, ‘unrolled’ over cold plaster panels, just like a camera roll, recording history. And Hope. The first two pictures of this post have been taken at the East Side Gallery, an open air museum made of some Kilometers of still existing Wall. The trabant was a car produced on the GDR, its breaking through the Wall is an iconic image. Another image that I enjoyed was the famous kiss between Breznev and Honecker, a fraternal kiss, normal in Russia but reporting the quote both in Russian and German: My God, help me to survive this deadly love, that gives to the whole thing an ironic and kind of queer accent. The bear is the symbol of Berlin and we found these big bears coloured like some expensive fancy cows you can find everywhere lately. I liked the idea though. Ah-hum, speaking of queers, in the picture I was just checking if it growls. It doesn’t.

Berlin is also a very green city, full of parks and trees, and although I couldn’t find anything really interesting under a gardening point of view, I’ve been pleasantly surprised in finding an open border with perennials and grasses and some drought tolerant bushes (although you can’t really talk about ‘drought’ in north Germany…) all in the middle of Tiergarten, the wide green heart of Berlin.

A central stream of silver leaved artemisia made a kind of diagonal line through heleniums in various hot hues, asters, and many other perennials and grasses such as stipa tenuissima and various molinias and miscanthus. There were also eupatorium scattered here and there and silver leaved bushes like sea buckthorn and eleagnus. All surrounded by deep green, tall trees.

The white buttons I guess it’s a white form of knautia, or scabiosa or some of those things by the way. I liked it paired with deep red heleniums. The border was set in a slightly rounded slope, making it look like a big embrace and giving a little sense of dizziness to the observer. The ‘fish eye’ effect is not given by the camera settings, it was real.

Ok I’m keeping the treat for the end… Did you think I wished ‘welcome home’ to myself? Although after a trip and a long absence from blogging I feel kind of come home, in many senses, but we have some new entries on the family! Please meet the kittens:

They’re 2 month old brother and sister and they don’t have a name yet. I can only snap a picture while they’re asleep but I promise I’ll try my best to post a better one in the future. The red haired is a devil, fortunately the female is more calm and sweet. So far they have been welcomed very happily by Mina that against any expectation is always playing with them. Rudy is always a little scared of kids of any kind but I count on him to get over it. Tigre is not very happy with the newbies but at least she didn’t pack and disappear as I was afraid of. Any name suggestion for the kittens will be welcomed. I have Ginger in mind for the female, what do you reckon?


38 thoughts on “Welcome Home

  1. Good to have you back Alberto! I love that planting style but agree with you drought tolerance is a very relative term. Virtually nothing is really ‘tolerant’ in my garden; things just about survive or don’t…….
    I’ve never been to Berlin, looks interesting, I enjoyed your descritption. Christina

    • Hi Christina, I’m glad you liked it. I highly recommend you to pay a visit to Berlin, it really worths it. I used to hate Germany during my six years of German but I’ve recently changed my mind about the Country, although I can’t yet love their language. You are totally right about drought tolerance, in my garden what survive summer succumb to winter and vice versa, it’s a disaster.

  2. I really enjoyed this mere taste of Berlin. Would love to see more.

    I have a name suggestion for your male kitten. How about Ruben as a toast to the German artist, Peter Paul Rubens, and your trip. Please let me know personally, if you do.

    Came across a great Rubens quote worth sharing:

    “My talent is such that no undertaking, however vast in size or diversified in subject, has ever surpassed my courage.” Sounds like a cocky artist of today looking for investors. Don’t you think, bro?

    BTW, your bear grope seems more troubling in light of Ms. Cyrus’ troubling performance Sunday night. Will never insert my hand into a foam finger again.

    • Hi Patrick! Ruben is a very good name indeed! For a similar reason we came up with Dalì, as we visited a new permanent show with hundreds of Dalì’s lithography, he’s one of my favorite painters and the installation was very inspiring. But then we realized that Dalì doesn’t sound so good.

      You had me look up on Google for Ms. Cyrus and her performance, I guess I’m too old to know this Disney’s stuff and too young to realize how slutty they could be…

  3. Hey Alberto! I was just starting to worry about you, although I suspected that you were on one of those August vacations. Seems like you had a great trip to Berlin, and you even found a garden, in addition to that poor defenseless bear. Yes fall is the time to garden really. We’ve had awful heat here too and I will be pleased to tear August off the calendar. How cool that Mina plays with the darling kittens. It seems to me that if you name the girl kitty Ginger then the other one has to be Fred…

    • Hi Linnie! I knew you’d understand my disappearing, and I love the term ‘August vacations’. Thing is I’m like Dr Jekyll during the year and Mr Hide shows himself when temperatures rise over 30°C.
      I took Ginger from Ginger Rogers indeed but Ale doesn’t like to name the male Fred. He might be afraid of having two little dancing and singing kittens, or maybe it’s just the problem with finding 4 pairs of tiny tip tap shoes and a couple of little umbrellas…

      • I agree completely about hot weather. It’s why I like having the coast nearby, always cool there. But Ale! Why don’t you like “Fred”? [Just asking Ale here.] You could call him Freddie–would that be better? I don’t think the musical purring would be such a problem, and they can always tap in Alberto’s shoes while he’s off buying lipstick or something. OR, how about name the boy kitty Ginger (for the color) and call the girl one Freddie? I used to know a girl called Freddie– short for Frederica, or Winnifred. It was cute.

  4. Glad to see you’re back…missed your posts! I visited Germany years ago (yikes…20 years, maybe)! I loved it…so interesting and so much history. Sadly, I didn’t get to visit any gardens, but I’ll make sure to visit them if I ever make it back 🙂

    • Hi Scott! 20 years ago you were a child, just like me, I guess we are almost the same age, aren’t we? So you are totally excuse about gardens and by the way there isn’t that much to see in that front. Although I visited Karl Foerster’s garden in Potsdam, a nearby town, I’ll post pictures and details in the next post.

  5. Hello Alberto, Welcome back. We had been planning to go to Berlin thus year but unfortunately my husband fell ill and we have had to postpone it so it was lovely to read your post. I have never been there but have always wanted to visit. I lived in West Germany as a child and remember being taken to an area where we could see the wall stretching for miles dividing the 2 countries. Gardening is not always fun or easy hope you feel more inspired now the temperature is falling. Your new additions to the family are so cute.
    Sarah x

    • Hi Sarah, I guess you are going to find a completely different place from when you were a child, I think the place has changed impressively since 1989. For instance Potsdamer Platz with its Sony Center is something that leave you mouth opened. In that same spot there is this new permanent Salvador Dalì’s lithographs showroom, be sure to pay it a visit if you like the stuff.
      Hope your husband is getting better now, just to go back to work after summer holidays… 😀

  6. Welcome back, Alberto. I’m a big fan of Berlin and was there in April and going back in November – thinking we might live there for a year or so at some point. The Jewish museum is indeed a masterpiece and the Holocaust Tower especially moving. Glad you enjoyed you trip – it is a great city. Dave

    • Hello Dave! I’d like to come and go from Berlin with your same frequency, in august there were too much tourists for my taste, I didn’t expect to meet all those Italians everywhere… I’m glad I’m back to Venice where I can finally hear some native German speakers all around…
      By the way, I hope you are not going to Berlin with that scarecrow suit of yours… 🙂

  7. Hi Alberto,

    Nice to see you again!
    Would it be really wrong of me to tell me you’re looking pretty hot! ha ha. Although I’m not so sure where you’ve got your hand on the bear…. 😉

    I hope your garden is beginning to recover – you’ve not lost any roses I hope??!!!!!

    More kitties??!!! Give them names you hope means something to you.. Or a personality you hope they will have (not that it works) for example some names might mean ‘golden’, ‘gold’, ‘red’, or others ‘friend’… I dunno. Never was particularly good at this myself. I always named mine after places, but then that got popular and now everyone does that so I just look like I’m on the bandwagon!

    • Hi Liz! Do I look only ‘hot’? I guess it’s because you haven’t seen me in my lipstick yet! 😀
      I’ve also lost some roses indeed, the smaller ones in particular where in need of watering and after I did moles dug the poor roses up and made them die in a matter of hours. Last year it’s been a very long summer, but not as hot as this one, I’m kind of worried about this crazy weather.

      Yes, more kittens. I’ve never owned a red one and when I spotted him amongst the greys at my mother-in-law’s place I immediately applied for him. When it came the moment to bring him home the Which convinced me that two is better than one and put the grey one in the cardboard box too. So far I have to admit she was right, they never talk and they play with each other instead that with my curtains and stuff.
      I like the naming after places thing, it’s all but popular here in Italy. Instead it’s very popular to name pets after humans’ names. But with places’ names you mean like Venezia and Milano or more of a Coffeeshop and Laudry?
      The girl could be named Roma though, it does sound good, doesn’t it?

      • Hi Alberto,

        I’d love to see you in lipstick! 😀 Two colleagues and I went to see Rocky Horror Picture Show back in April, and dressed up for it… I went pretty much as a lady of the night complete with corset, fishnet tights etc, one went as the French maid – Magenta and finally, the guy went almost like Frank N Furter… Corset, stockings, suspenders, wig, makeup etc. Fabulous. (he’s gay btw and dressed in drag before).
        Shame to hear about your roses, so upsetting to lose plants, even more so when they’re roses! I thought I had lost all my Verbena Hastata, but I seem to have a couple of seedlings pop up… Not mature plants, but better than nothing! (I love Hastata).

        Roma is a lovely name – I’ve had a pet named Roma before, I also particularly liked Orlando, Tate, Monaco, Siena, Kyoto (am I just naming my favourite pets here, rather than names??!).

        • I love the Rocky Horror Picture Show, it’s so demential. You have a funny habit of fancy dressing rather often in the UK, I remember seeing people in fancy dress almost every weekend when I lived in Brighton. But seeing all the people in fancy dress going to the theater must have been something, right?

          Don’t worry for your verbena hastata, it happened the same to me but the year after I was infested with seedlings. I think it’s only annual but then you have it virtually perennial with easy seedlings…

  8. Welcome back, handsome! I’m so glad you’re feeling better! Your garden is spectacular, as usual. 🙂 I’ve been to Germany but not to Berlin and I’d love to go. How about Luna for the grey kitten? Her fur looks like the moon.

    • Hi Casa! That garden is not mine, it was in Berlin, I wish my garden looked half as good as that! 😉
      I like Germany and although many people says “Berlin doesn’t feel like Germany” I think it feels very German, it’s like the modern essence of Germany indeed.

  9. Good to have you back Alberto, has your shingles completely recovered, I hope so?
    You seem to have had a good time in Berlin, not part of Germany that I have been to, glad to see that you found a super garden!

    • Hello Pauline!
      I’m keeping the ‘real’ super garden for another post to be honest, that one was only a corner in a public park, indeed. Shingles has totally healed, leaving only a little scar on the upper leg, but never mind, I’ve already decided to wear knee-long skirts when I turned 30. 🙂
      Shingles also turned out to be far less aggressive and painful than how I’d expected, I guess I caught a weak form of it.

  10. Alberto how wonderful to have you back. I was wondering how you have been. I am glad you are well. I totally understand how you feel about your garden as mine has been neglected all summer and is now overgrown and full of weeds. I enjoyed your trip to Berlin. I have heard good things about visiting there.

    Love the new additions…so cute. I love the name Rudy for a cat.

    • Hi Donna, thanks for your comment. I’ve been working hard last weekend to get my garden back from that neglected state, there’s a lot to do but I’d like to enjoy the prospect mild autumn with a decent garden.

  11. Thank you for sharing these attractive photos, Alberto. I am sure “drought” in Berlin and in Italy are quite different things. I hope your garden is recovering. Here our garden is at the other extreme – very wet every year from November to April (with snow over the wet ground from December to March!)
    Io e il mio partner ha trascorso il mese di ottobre in Italia molti anni fa e mi è piaciuto molto. Ciao Alberto.

    • Ciao Alain, thanks for passing by. You are totally right about drought and consider that they work with very sandy soil and regular rainfall, here’s all clay and in winter it becomes a mess, like you said, so I loose some drought tolerant plants in winter because of waterlog.

  12. Heey Alb!! Io sono stato a Berlino in maggio con i miei cugini e mia zia, e devo dire che ci siamo divertiti un sacco…a parte il fatto che ci sono techno disco incredibili e capiti in posti che fanno paura….ahaha
    Ho visto il giardino botanico e mi ricordo che c’era un bellissimo esemplare di Davidia Involucrata in fiore….sono tornato da un paio di giorni da Hamburg e devo dire che è una bella città, devi vedere il parco Planten un Blomen…tra poco torno a London, l’estate è agli sgoccioli, damn

    • Ho visto che i locali non mancano in effetti! Al giardino botanico non ci sono andato sinceramente, sarà una buona occasione per tornare! 😉
      L’estate è finita ma io sono solo che contento sinceramente, adesso si prospetta un autunno mite e con belle giornate, la mia vera stagione preferita! E tu tornatene nella nebbia di Londra…

  13. Ciao Alberto, allora come si chiamano i due nuovi arrivati?
    Io che sono una ” gattara ” adoro dare nomi agli animali
    ( sto pensando ai nomi da mettere a 8 pesciolini rossi che sono arrivato ieri nel mio tino/laghetto)
    Il mio attuale gatto tutto rosso si chiama Martino ( dal pianeta Marte ), poi ho avuto Mirtillo, Biscotto, Chicco
    (di grano ) ……….scusa. poreti andare avanti all’infinito.
    Ora poi che ho scoperto che entrando sul blog attraverso google chrome ho la traduzione di tutto ( traduzione non perfetta) almeno posso evitare di capire qualche parola qua e là.
    Bello il giardino di K. Foester a Berlino. Città che non ho mai visto.

    • Loretta, scusami non ti ho ancora risposto!!! Mi sto un po’ stancando del blog, scrivo sempre meno e sono sempre meno inspirato, anche se un po’ mi dispiace… Belli i nomi che mi suggerisci, ma credo che i nomi definitivi siano Ruben lui e Ginger lei anche se ancora li chiamiamo Gattino e Gattina… 😉

    • Not sure they are going to stay in blogland for a long time… I’m blogging les and less lately…
      Heleniums look very good on the second year then decrease instead of growing… I guess they need space and plenty of water to be happy…

  14. Totally enjoying your trip to Berlin — one of my fave cities in the world. Also glad to hear that you’ve recovered from the shingles. I’ve had them and I know how painful they can be. Looking forward to more posts. Be well!

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