The declared aim of Hermannshof is to study and showcase the modern use of plants. The park is a playground for garden director Cassian Schmidt and head gardener Till Hofmann along with 7 garden staff. And they are playing with a lot of different things – woodland plants, annuals, water plants. But clearly their passion, if one is to judge by what covers the most ground, are prairies and meadows in their many incarnations.
The garden itself is not very large, about 2.2 ha (5.5 acres) in total. There is a densely planted area at the entrance, where several beds are separated by paths and buildings. From there opens the main area of the park, which is roughly square with a circular path around the outside. The plantings are arranged around this circular path, while the center is simply lawn, though it was my impression that the plants were slowly encroaching. The planting style changes rapidly as you move through the garden to showcase various styles or habitats.
A much better map can be found on the garden website here.
Close to the park entrance, one first encounters the annual beds. Although I didn't necessarily like all the plants used (I'm biased against certain annuals, such as amaranthus), it was an extremely interesting experiment which proves you can create a very intricate and rewarding planting tapestry based on annuals.
These 'summary' plant labels were posted in some areas, and I thought they really great. Rather than having to crawl around the beds to try to find a tag on each plant, here was everything together! Unfortunately, there were only a few of them around the park.
Past these beds begins one of the real show pieces of the garden, the North American perennial section. This is not a prairie inspired garden as there are mainly flowering perennials and only a few grasses (I'll have to save the real prairie sections for the next blog - I think Hermannshof is just too overwhelming for a single post). The first sections here were just bursting at the seams with the colour and exuberance of helianthus, rudbeckia and annual zinnia. Again, there was a handy summary label, though only some of the plants were listed.
We visited on August 8th (this was actually an earlier trip than the one to Peter Janke's garden.. it's all starting to blend together). Already a lot of dry seedheads, such as echinops, were playing a big role.
Next time - the prairie inspired gardens at Hermannshof! Hopefully coming sooner than one month from now.