October 22, 2014

Chandra L. Mattingly

Biography and photo

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Germany: what a trip
Written by Chandra L. Mattingly   
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 1:04 PM

Germany was a trip.

For those of you who didn't know, I got to visit my daughter for two weeks in July. And we probably did a month's worth of sightseeing in two weeks.

One thing is for sure: Germans love their flowers. Blumin, they're called in Deutsch (German.)

Although we drove through the countryside on the Autobahn, mostly we were in cities: Meerbusch, where Cindy lives; Dortmund, where she lived for awhile; Dusseldorf, where she works; and other cities due to attractions in them: Cologne, Essen, Oberhausen and others. So most of the residences we saw were apartments.

Nearly every apartment had a deck or, on the ground floor, a small front porch and/or yard. And nearly every deck, porch and yard sported flowers and herbs. Germans seem to be quite adept at nurturing potted plants, including some in rather small containers, with a variety of foliage and blooming plants available at easily-found flower shops.

One deck in Dusseldorf especially struck me with its sunflowers and other plants, all in pots or containers of some sort, as shown in the accompanying photo.

Others had flower boxes along the rails, house plants moved outdoors for the summer, and often vegetables. Cherry tomatoes especially seem popular, but Cindy also has strawberries, cucumbers and zucchini, as well as a few herbs. This week she reported she's harvesting and eating a lot of the little tomatoes (as are we at home, between the few I started and the many that volunteered.)

For cut flowers, Germans can pick up bouquets at the open air markets found in most cities, though sometimes only on specific days, or they can go to a cut-your-own farm. We never got to the latter, but saw a few from the road. There were rows of gladiolus, sunflowers and other bright blooms.

We also drove by garden plots in various places, little squares of individual gardens, often including fruit trees as well as vegetables, and almost always with a small building on each plot.

Jo Sloan, a high school classmate and teacher at South Dearborn, accompanied me on this trip; she's Cindy's godmother as well as a good friend. We managed to miss two weeks of this summer's high temperatures/high humidity here at home. Where we were in Germany, day temperatures were in the 60s or low 70s, and despite the country's rainy reputation, we only got rained on once in our excursions, the Sunday we spent in Cologne, not counting some sprinkles in Koblenz.

It did rain other times, but mostly at night or while we were driving somewhere – you couldn't beat that! And there did not seem to be nearly the number of insects as we have here, no mosquitos and few flies except for at the horse stables. They weren't bad at the stable on the Rhine River where Cindy boards her Standardbred, but they were thick at the dude ranch in the Eifel, a mountainous part of Germany where we took a three-hour horseback ride and enjoyed a barbecue.

It was neat to see foxglove growing wild amidst the pine trees there, and what appeared to be campanula, including one with large cup and saucer type blooms.

Garden on a deck