How's It Growing, Berlin?
Berlin is really the best of both worlds, combining urban excitement with plenty of nature to discover. Hilda Hoy set out to explore the botanical side of the city.
Explore the botanical side of the city – and eat it too.
Bet you didn’t know this about Berlin: Though it’s most hyped these days for its museums and galleries, trendy boutiques, nightlife scene, and super-hip urban culture, this city is actually a bit of an earthy hippie at heart. Those who spend all their time in Mitte may not realize that Berlin is incredibly green: 40 percent of the city’s total area is taken up by parks, forests, lakes, canals, and rivers, which has clearly instilled its locals with a deep love of nature. Botanical diversity is rooted in the fabric of the city, from the big Berlin forests right down to the courtyards hidden within many apartment buildings, which are often planted with shrubs, flowers, and even vegetables.
Take A Green Stroll
With the green season well and truly getting underway this month, there’s no better time to discover Berlin’s botanical side and enjoy some fresh air. Given its central location, Tiergarten is the easiest place to start. Originally the hunting ground of the Prussian royals, the sprawling park is filled with forests, ponds, and a romantic little canal. During the Cold War era, this is where West Berliners – living on an isolated island in the midst of East Germany – would come when they needed a break in nature. Down in the southern end of the city is Neukölln’s Britzer Garten, which doesn’t have the woods of Tiergarten but has acres of well-groomed flowerbeds instead, plus a scenic pond and plenty of trails offering relaxing walks. The best time to visit is right around now, when all the tulips are in full colorful bloom. For gardens with global flair, don’t miss Gärten
der Welt out east in Marzahn, a series of interconnected walled gardens with global themes. The Japanese garden is a real show-stopper in the spring when its cherry trees are in full pink flower, and the Chinese garden has a pagoda that hosts occasional tea ceremonies.