Early summer 2020
When the E. family called me, they had been living in their newly built home for a year. The garden consisted of three beautiful trees and a well-kept lawn - 'so that there is at least something there and it no longer looks like a building site'.
But their vision for the garden looked different. Cozy, somewhat sheltered, not quite so flat, with secret places for the children to hide and play and natural stone walls reminiscent of their English home. A wide band of native wild shrubs was also planned.
From manicured lawn to pollinator paradise
The unusual layout of the property created a large front garden in the south east corner, visible from all directions. Instead of fast-growing hedges and ecologically dead lawn, we decided to transform the space into a paradise for insects and small animals - a space that invites life. I used sunloving perennials and grasses in warm yellow, deep violet-blues and bright reds - colours that attract bees, butterflies and bumblebees and greet visitors and passers-by from afar.
Climate-friendly, low-maintenance and minimal watering
It was important to the family that the garden be low-maintenance and manageable even for beginner gardeners. As soon as the young plants had grown up and covered a large part of the soil, weeds hardly stood a chance. By then the perennials and shrubs also had deep enough roots to supply themselves with water. A layer of light-coloured gravel reflects the sun and reduces evaporation from the surface of the soil, therefore keeping the soil cool and moist.
The special thing about the plant selection: All perennials and grasses can be left standing in autumn meaning insects can lay their eggs in the dry hollow stalks or overwinter between the dry leaves protected from frost and snow. It also means the garden looks good all year round.
As a garden designer I help high-profile clients transforming their roof-top terraces and gardens into pollinator-friendly spaces.
What lights me up: Listening to bumblebees buzzing as I'm planting a new terrace in the middle of busy Berlin. Seeing birds from our kitchen table when they visit our terrace in winter. Hearing a paper wasp rasping the outer layer of one of last year's flower stalks - just meters away from my home office desk.
What I believe in: You can make your life richer when you begin to invite life into the space you're entrusted with - even if it is as tiny as a window box. As you get in touch with nature - right where you are and in your everyday life - you life will get so much bigger.
What I wish for you: I would love for you to experience the calm and joy that comes with being in your very own oasis.
You want your terrace to be a place of joy and abundance - for you, your family and wildlife in the city.
Download this guide to:
➽ know your next steps
➽ feel confident about selecting your new favorite plants
➽ start planting this weekend
➽ do less garden maintenance and enjoy your terrace more
➽ explore how to support more native wild bees in your area