A dream garden in Falkenfels/Bavaria
Falkenfels is a small village in the Bayerischer Wald, half way between Regensburg and Straubing. Small it may be, but the village can presume of a castle, two churches and no less than five chapels.
My visit last week however was to discover a dream garden, created by Marion Ernst and her husband who have found their vocation when they decided to leave city life in Munich behind and move to the country. What started as tremendous work to restore an old farm house and turning a neglected pasture around it into a fabulous garden, has developed into a business where Marion is creating measure made gardens to others who heard about hers.
Once I had negotiated the winding country roads from Straubing, I saw the bell tower of a small baroque church peeking out of a riot of plants, colors and flowers right next to it. I heard a cheerful welcome at the sound of my taxi and knew, I had arrived at gartentraeume St. Johann. http://www.gartentraeume-me.de/mein_garten.html
Over coffee and home baked black current tart, enjoyed on a bench and table at the back of the house, Marion tells me the story.
There are actually two dwellings on the property. One, which is now the main building, was originally the house of the custodian of the church nearby. Another, much smaller house was used by the older generation to live in, sort of a granny flat. When Marion and Ernst finally found their dream place in the country, both dwellings were derelict and the surrounding land nothing but a weed infested pasture.
13 years of work (and plenty of money) went into the creation of a garden paradise in a most unexpected location. Once the house was fit to live in, Marion turned her attention to creating a garden which suited the house and at the same time made use of the natural vegetation of the surrounding Bayerischer Wald. Fir trees, pine trees, grasses, lilies, wild roses, wild flowers, hydrangea, berries and bushes are the main components of the various sections of the garden. Nothing fancy, nothing too constructed was the basic idea.
Decorative elements like a pond and several statues alternate with a small apple orchard, kitchen garden and meadow, interspersed with many place to sit and read or rest because according to Marion, a garden isn’t just a pretty place to look at from your living room window but a space to actually live in, at all seasons.
What I most admired is that Marion is self taught. A print engineer by trade and an enthusiastic choir singer, she learned by trial and error although, after she created her garden design business, she attended a course in garden design.
Once her garden was planted, her singing teacher persuade her to arrange for a matinee and concert in her house and garden. Everybody came and was so impressed that many wanted a garden just like hers.
Marion’s fame and reputation grows, her garden has been featured in magazines and on local TV. Clients have to be patient though because her priority is to know them well, their tastes and characters, the outlay of their house and she treats every assignment as if it were her own garden.
The place was once a Celtic cult site and she is convinced that the energy persists. I could well believe her, enjoying two days of peace, calm and utter beauty in the middle of the Bayerischer Wald.