Exclusive access to the private paradise of amateur gardeners

Daylilies glow orange, fragrant roses turn pink, plump tomatoes turn appetizingly red on the bushes: in Herbert Hoppensack’s 1,100-square-meter garden, the plants behave in an exemplary manner. Because he brings them up consistently and strictly here in the quiet Malsdorf suburb of Berlin. He and over a hundred other hobby gardeners reveal how this beauty grows so beautifully throughout the year as part of the Open Gardens campaign.

Then everyone is allowed to enter the private gardens and ask about everything. How about proper watering? Herbert Hoppensack is extremely frugal. The 69-year-old man “on principle. Many people are suffering because they don’t have enough water, and there are fewer and fewer of us.” Therefore, he rarely donates the water he collects during the rain to those who are most thirsty, for example, vegetables, blueberries, rhododendrons.

Not a drop of water for the lawn

There is nothing constant for a lawn except natural precipitation. “Otherwise the grass will rot and not root deep enough, making it difficult to deal with dry situations,” he explains. “It still turns yellow, even with water,” his experience has been accumulated over decades of gardening and observation. “Whether a plant thrives depends largely on its location. If she complains, moving often helps.”

In general, it adapts to the changed climatic conditions and relies exclusively on greens that do without water. Like peonies, catnip, purple flax. In addition, many desert-dwelling cacti can be found in the greenhouse and even on the street. He says: “In winter, when the temperature is below zero, a temporary roof is enough to keep them from getting wet, rotting and freezing.”

Sabina Gudat

Open Gardens dates
All year long

The next meeting with Herbert Hoppensack at Lübeckerstrasse 1 (Berlin-Mälsdorf; photo) is July 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sybille Kuhlmann invites you to the Christmas market at Pappelweg 10 in Hakenfeld on 13 and 20 November from 14:00 to 18:00. The days of the year when other gardens are open can be found here: open-garden.de

Sybilla Kuhlmann is just as strict. In her Spandau garden out back, after years of fruitless struggle with a brazen gersch that kept spreading, she put a pond liner in the ground. Former orthopedist (69): “Gravel on top so it doesn’t slide, it stops it” No light, no growth, it’s that simple.

pollination and reproduction

Despite all the severity, the best gardeners are, of course, no less useful. Kuhlmann pours water into the leaves of a shrub. It is drunk by insects, which in turn thank them for pollination and thus the reproduction of plants.

Herbert Hoppensack is just as caring. He shows the tomatoes the right way with a thread. “They always fall when they hold a stick.” He saves them and himself from such disappointment, by hand lovingly twisting the shoots around the textile wax.

Snails are the culprits in the garden

Although sometimes even experienced people despair. “You can’t do anything,” says gardener Hoppensack thoughtfully, looking at the large, badly eaten leaves of the hosta. “Snails are to blame.” Nothing helps against them. In an emergency situation, like a salad, grab (a little!) pellets from slugs. This is why they kill the guilty.

Sabina Gudat

Funky, eaten by snails in Herbert Hoppensack’s garden.

Sybilla Kuhlmann tends her small terraced garden. “It looks like a long hose,” she states coolly. “The secret of attractiveness is in the right distribution.” The design of individual rooms guarantees a variety of viewing experiences.

Wide edges of the bed with arches

Instead of perfectly straight edges, the beds have wide arches on the right and left edges. She put trees in the middle of the garden. She keeps them always small, they can be a maximum of two meters in height. “Here,” pointing to a small pot of a 42-year-old, still-tender chestnut tree. “Its size determines the spread of the roots.”

Sabina Gudat

The high art of reproduction on a fruit tree: A branch is grafted.

Herbert Hoppensack tells how fruit trees can be turned into a sea of ​​flowers by grafting them and then into fruit trees that last for weeks. “In winter, I cut the grafted shoots and completely bury them in the ground.” In May, he grafts them onto another tree with wax and larch. “Thanks to the different varieties, the harvest time for me has been extended to four weeks.”

Gardeners get up early

Your kingdom is a lot of work for gardeners. Everyone gets up at four in the morning. They go on vacation only in the low season in autumn and winter. It still doesn’t feel like renunciation. Optics is a win. Herbert Hoppensack loves the view from different places in the middle of the green. “I often just sit back and enjoy the spectacle.”

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