In a vase on Monday: grape hyacinths

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On Saturday, I wandered around the downtown Stuttgart flower market admiring all the blooming spring bulbs — which were being sold both potted and as cut flowers (pictures below). I bought some cut tulips and then went to Butler’s for a vase and another container of seashell chips. On the way home, I stopped at a florist and bought a little pot of forced Muscari, or grape hyacinth, bulbs.

I think I should have set the bulbs lower in the vase, but I didn’t want to disturb their rootball, which I covered with the chips.

Click on any thumbnail in the gallery below to scroll through photos of the flower market.

To see what other gardeners have put in a vase today, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

Streifzug 7: Filderkraut festival

I’m sorry there was no Sunday porch yesterday. . .

8 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ure

I was at the 37th annual Filderkraut-Fest in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, a town near the Stuttgart airport.

There are very few weekends in the Stuttgart area without a local fest celebrating some aspect of the season.  Since the end of summer, we have celebrated the wine harvest, the potato harvest, the pumpkin harvest, and now that of the Filderkraut.

This very fine variety of cabbage has a distinctive pointy shape.*  It grows particularly well in the rich loess-loam of the Filder plateau, which surrounds the airport.

7 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ure

The fest was opened on Saturday by Mayor Roland Klenk, who tapped the first keg and, after about 40 taps, sprayed onlookers with beer.  “That’s not my core competency,” he reportedly said.

Tapping the first keg seems to be the German equivalent of throwing out the first ball in the U.S. — an honor fraught with peril for a politician.

9 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ure

This was not an easy year for cabbage growers, according to an article in the Stuttgarter Nachrichten.  It was too hot and dry, and the heads were smaller than usual.

10 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: “Kizele’s cabbage display.”

3 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ure

4 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: whole heads of fermented cabbages on the table.  Note her hat.

15 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ure

14 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: tubs of sauerkraut to take home.

22 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: a display of bread and cabbage.

23 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: the Rathaus or town hall of Echterdingen.

25 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: a cabbage shredding race on the stage.

20 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: a children’s activity booth in front of the town’s museum.

12 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: “Pretty cabbage heads.”

19 Cabbage Fest, enclos*ureAbove: my lunch, sauerkraut and potato dumplings (like gnocchi).

By the way, now is the time in Stuttgart to eat Zwiebelkuchen (bacon and onion flan) with Neuer Sußer or new wine — newly (barely) fermented grape juice.

Streifzug means ‘foray,’ ‘ brief survey,’ or ‘ramble.’

*I mentioned this fest to my mother, and she remembered that, back in Texas, my great-grandmother always told her that cabbages with pointed heads were the best. I don’t think I’d ever seen any until this August.

the moon moves over
the field of dark cabbage and an
exchange fills
all veins.

Jonathan Williams, from “Two Pastorals for Samuel Palmer at Shoreham, Kent”

Streifzug 5: Unity Men

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A ramble* on Friday, about 7:00 p.m. . .

This year marks the 25th anniversary of German reunification.

The federal state of Hesse, charged with organizing the celebrations, commissioned conceptual artist Ottmar Hörl to create an installation of serial sculptures.

As many as 1,000 little green Einheitsmännchen or Unity Men will tour Germany. At the moment — until August 30 — they are on the Schlossplatz in the city center of Stuttgart.

For my conceptual idea to release its communicative potential, I work in public spaces — a sphere that belongs to everyone and to nobody at the same time. . . . For this space — outside the confines of museums — I consciously choose motifs that are already firmly rooted in collective memory. By gradually shifting their context or by an act of re-creation, I turn them into a new experience.

In line with my strategy as an artist, it seemed obvious to me for the anniversary of the German reunification to adopt, and rework, the well-known East German Ampelmännchen, or traffic light man, first developed by Karl Peglau in 1961. I turned the two-dimensional pictogram of a little green man into a three-dimensional serial monochrome figure, carved in the round and standing 38 centimeters tall. He is still wearing his hat, but has been given a face, too. In a manner of speaking, this is a new generation Ampelmännchen, the Einheitsmännchen (“Unity Man”): cosmopolitan, friendly, and with a positive outlook for the future, smiling, holding out his hand in a attempt to meet you halfway, full of energy, dynamic, courageous, and advancing with determination. He is a symbol of our mobile society. . . . When our society manages to stay flexible, in motion, in a constant state of flux, there is always room for advancement and improvement. Individuals as well as society as an entity will thus keep their chance to escape the risk of paralysis or deadlock.

In this respect, the “Unity Man” may be regarded as an emblem of free democratic principles, of flexibility, of hope and trust in the future. . . .

Ottmar Hörl, from the exhibit’s brochure

The green men are available for sale online here. An unsigned figure is €60; a signed one is €140.


*Streifzug means ‘foray,’ ‘ brief survey,’ or ‘ramble.’