Symbolic Forest Gardenblog

An experiment in container gardening

Posts Tagged ‘forest’

More inspiration

The last inspiration post was a cemetery in distant Berlin. Today’s inspiration is also a cemetery, but one a bit closer to home. Arno’s Vale, in Totterdown, Bristol.

Arno's Vale Cemetery, Bristol

Arno’s Vale today is a beautiful wooded spot: but it was never intended to look quite like this. It was designed as a garden cemetery, a carefully-manicured hillside opened in 1839, the same year as Highgate Cemetery and a few years after the pioneering Kensal Green Cemetery. Like Kensal Green, it was run as a commercial business; and it was very successful for many years.

Arno's Vale Cemetery, Bristol

Unlike Kensal Green, Arno’s Vale started to run out of space in the 20th century; and as new burials fell, the viability of the cemetery as a business also started to fade. The cemetery management had to cut back on maintenance staff; and as they did so, trees and undergrowth started to take over. By the time the business finally went under, the cemetery was completely overgrown.

Arno's Vale Cemetery, Bristol

In more recent years the cemetery was saved from both too much decay, and the threat of redevelopment, by a group of campaigners. It now is owned by the city council, but managed and maintained by a charitable trust with the help of many volunteers.

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Inspiration

The last time I wrote an “Inspiration” post, I said: not to cause confusion with the blog title, but even though our little patch of earth decking is not a forest garden, I do find forest gardens inspirations, in terms of their atmosphere. The dappled light, the growth everywhere, the mixture of different foliage at different heights, it is all an atmosphere I would ideally want to evoke; but it clashes with our situation and our other aims.

Just to increase the confusion, this second “Inspiration” post is also rather foresty. This time, though, it’s not even a garden. It is: the Weißensee Jewish Cemetery, in the Berlin suburbs, and the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe.

Jewish cemetery, Weißensee

The paths are kept scrupulously free of leaves by the cemetery’s staff, but in line with Jewish traditions the individual graves are covered in undergrowth.

Jewish cemetery, Weißensee

Jewish cemetery, Weißensee

Jewish cemetery, Weißensee

The cemetery opened in 1880, and somehow survived both the Nazi period and Communist neglect. Despite being declared a “cultural monument” in the 1970s, at the same time it was threatened by a road scheme. Nowadays, its future is more secure.

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