Ini’s Garden House

In Berlin (and possibly other cities) the Deutsche Bahn offers parcels in their easements to folks who would like to maintain a garden. This is a highly-contested opportunity that is mostly handed down within families for decades, however, it is expensive. DB continues to own the land, but the user must purchase (and maintain) a small shelter on the property. Water is provided to the property during the summer, but all must agree to help DB turn it off for the winter. One’s garden house can have a sleeping place, bathroom and kitchen, but the owner is not allowed to rent the space nor stay in the space in any permanent style.

Ini has, within the past year, taken the leap to get a garden house. It’s a significant risk to those who take the plunge, because DB can change their track locations and easements, and other city construction can cramp a location that was once open but private. Also, security is often a risk, although the areas are always keyed. 

Ini’s spot has been maintained for about 40 years prior to her “adoption” of it, and while the structure and most of the plantings and landscaping remain as-was, she has totally renovated the interior of the garden house to make it more amenable for family use. She and her daughter, Lee, have also changed the annual planting areas with raised beds for vegetable gardening. Lee has been mostly involved with the growing of veggies, a passion she’s had since she was a very young girl. 

Ini and Lee, with the help of Lee’s friend, Matthias (who has discovered a new outlet from his professorial vocation in weeding and learning the difference between intended plants and unintended plants) have created a truly lovely spot, and it’s obvious from not only the small touches and artistic additions, but also how lovingly it is used and appreciated, that it is an essential aspect of urban life to them now. They go over somewhat regularly to grill and share dinners, some of which was grown on site. Matthias has been learning, “hands-on” style, how to be the grill-meister for their gathered meals.

I had not downloaded the photos of our visit to Ini’s Garden House from my camera when I uploaded the October 4 blog — indeed, Jack stayed at the apartment and slept some of his cold away. But I had forgotten that Page, Ini, and I walked over to the garden house and checked things out, Page and I seeing it for the first time.

Ini’s Number 8, from the front “yard.”
Standing at the front door, the main room, with a bed that pulls out to be able to sleep 2 on the right. The kitchen door is on the left.
In the kitchen, on the left is the cooking/cleaning space. A small fridge is under the counter in the foreground.
Kitchen right is the counter space and storage. The window opens to a narrow covered “patio” where the small grill sits.
To the left of this little table is the bathroom with toilet and small shower.
Another little “breakfast table” sits under the front window. Behind the main entry door is a wall full of storage cabinets with doors for all the accoutrements of living, eating, and cleaning.
Stairs carry us to the tiered back, where there are sunken and raised beds for a huge variety of perennials and annuals.
‘Tis the season for dahlias. Ini cut a few of the lovely blossoms to bring with us back to the apartment.
This rosemary bush was inherited and it’s a monster, although the photos does not show it. Standing on its level, it rises about 3 feet.
This mobile, made by a Meadows of Dan friend and hung in my mother’s art studio for many years before she moved last year, now has a new home in Ini’s fruit tree, high in the last tier of the back garden.

This garden shed, near the fruit tree, is one of two exterior storage areas on the property. Nearby on the highest tier are a water reclamation tub and a compost area.
The neighbor also has many dahlias and beautiful flowering plants.
The front yard from the door. The trains are not horribly close, and raised over the lower easement areas, so they’re not terribly loud. The front has a lovely patio that get southern exposure and Ini reports is always quite warm, so she’s set up a nice seating/dining/lounging area, with a pull-out awning if required. On the day we visited, it was just a scosch too chilly and cloudy to be completely comfortable sitting outside.
These pretty little succulents were growing in some small stone crevices on the front patio.
You cannot tell from this photo, but these little guys were about as big as the end of my thumb.
During our 15-minute walk back to Heilbronner Strausse, we passed through a lovely neighborhood, some very strange art, and some other garden house/easements (not nearly as well-kept as Ini’s group of units) that were frighteningly close to the RR tracks.

2 thoughts on “Ini’s Garden House”

  1. Always loved seeing these places from the trains. Thanks for the up close look at one of them.

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