I am now finally getting around to the Germany trip of last fall, one of my best garden visiting trips so far. The first garden we went to was Peter Janke's in Hilden (near Dusseldorf), which I learned about through James Golden's Federal Twist blog. Janke is a nurseryman, garden designer, and one of the leading figures in the exciting German landscape design scene.
His garden is a very large, rectangular piece of land, bordered by a very busy road on one side and an impressive mature forest on all others. The driveway bisects the property from the road, and leads to the central house and nursery. The driveway is the first impressive feature of the garden, with a very simple but striking use of Verbena bonarensis as edging along both sides (about 20m long stretch I would guess).
The right half of the front garden is occupied by a simple meadow with a circular pattern of mown grass in the middle, as well as a mown path bordered by fruit trees. At the time of our visit, the grass was uniformly tan in colour, with few other interlaced plants.
The left half of the front garden is taken up by the gravel garden, inspired by Beth Chatto's work in Essex. Peter Janke has studied with Chatto and credits her as a great influence on his work. This garden was absolutely spectacular at the time of our visit on September 4th. Everything seemed to sparkle in the autumn sun: delicate grass blades and seed heads, silver foliage, papery fall blooms and spiky dried flower heads.
At the back of the property lies the woodland garden, where the presence of the mature forest is keenly felt. This garden is cool and wet, in contrast to the open front areas. Simple mulch paths snake through it, along the edge of the forest. The garden is so lush you can hardly see outside of it. Many small and larger ponds are hidden between the foliage, and some were covered in a copper or rust coloured film. I'm not sure what the source of this is, but it made for an interesting contrast with the surrounding green.
Everywhere in the garden, there were little details that caught my eye, such as the interesting border edge below.
Or the wild abundant herb garden, with plants popping up through every crack in the paving, creating that beautiful contrast between geometrical and organic lines.
And the imaginatively pruned or placed trees throughout the property.
It was definitely a treat to be able to visit this garden. It combines a great mix of modern and classic, both in the design and the plants. It might have been even better if I spoke German as Peter Janke did a tour of the garden (we visited on a special open day). Would have loved to learn from what he had to say, although the garden was already a good teacher by itself.