Gerbéviller, France

“La Tombe des Coloniaux, a heart of grass, near Gerbéviller,” April 28, 1915, by Georges Chevalier, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine.

This seems to be the grave of a soldier (or perhaps soldiers) from one of the French Colonial Infantry Regiments. He probably fell in the Battle of Lorraine about seven or eight months before the photo was taken. Such men, called “Marines,” were recruited from both France and the white settler and indigenous populations of the French colonial empire.

The town of Gerbéviller itself had been caught in the same battle’s crossfire. German troops had systematically burned over 400 houses and killed over 60 inhabitants. It became “Gerbéviller-la-Martyre” in the press and a kind of pilgrimage site.

Today, there are both French and German WWI cemeteries in Gerbéviller.

This autochrome is one of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker and pacifist, between 1909 and 1931. Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to fifty countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.'”* The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here.


*words of Albert Kahn, 1912. Also, the above photo (A 5 344) is © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

Our garden in July

How to convey the very, very discreet charm of our garden of rough grass and weeds?

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I often think of this other bit of German ground painted by Albrecht Dürer.

Yesterday, a repairman came over to fix the window/door behind my desk chair. It turned out to be fine; I just did not know how to operate it properly. (German windows are wonderful, but this one is a bit over-engineered.)  He pushed the handle and pulled the frame and said, “And now you can go out into the beautiful . . . looks out, slight pause. . . garden.”

You can read about the beginning of my “garden without (much) gardening” here.

The middle of the month brings Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day (the 15th) and Foliage Follow Up (the 16th). Please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens and Pam at Digging to see what’s blooming and leafing out in July.

You can scroll through larger versions of the photos above by clicking on ‘Continue reading’ below.

I grow in places
others can’t,

where wind is high
and water scant. . . .

I make my humble,
bladed bed.

And where there’s level ground,
I spread.

Joyce Sidman, from “Grass