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  • Garden designers among themselves! Peter Berg in interview with Carolyn Mullet!

    Last summer – with pouring rain – we had a visit from the enchanting garden designer Carolyn Mullet and her “Carex Tours” travel group. Carex Tours organizes tours to gardens all over the world. Their stopover with us in the Ahr valley was a real experience and we met wonderful people. Garden connects! And of course we took the opportunity for a little interview, which you can now listen to on YouTube or here on this page.

    By the way: On November 10th, Carolyn’s new book “Adventures in Eden” will be released – we are very happy that our slope garden will also be presented in it. Feel free to have a look at her Instagram channel, you’ll find all the details there. https://www.instagram.com/ccamullet/

    We are now also on YouTube. Subscribe to our channel and look forward to videos about slope gardening, garden design & Co.

    Slope garden Peter Berg garden design

    Modern companies now offer their employees a lot. From ergonomic seats to openspace offices with meeting lounges, a relaxation corner, a café bar, freely available drinks and fruit to a fitness studio – a good company boss cares about the well-being of his team. For some time now, however, the importance of “green” has been recognised here as well. Not the colour on the wall, but outside, around the building or in inner courtyards, in the form of a garden. Why is the topic of “company gardens” increasingly becoming the focus of companies? The renowned garden designer Peter Berg from Sinzig has himself recognised a few years ago that there is an enormous potential for companies in this area. In the following he names 10 good reasons for a company garden:

    1. the appreciation of the employees

    The creation of a green outdoor area shows the employee that the management really cares about what is good for the employees. Of course it’s an extra investment for the company, but it’s an absolutely worthwhile investment in employee well-being. This kind of appreciation is gratefully accepted.

    2. employee generation

    A company stands and falls with good employees. When selecting an employer, however, a potential employee also pays attention to various criteria. The work-life balance plays a central role today. A company garden, which allows the connection to nature and also reflects the appreciation of the employee, is a big plus. Perhaps a playground would still be an idea for the company’s own nursery, which is often the case with larger companies.

    3. employee satisfaction

    The possibility of spending time in the countryside during working hours has a relaxing effect and is an ideal balance to office space or work hall. Employee satisfaction increases, which in turn has a very positive effect on the general working atmosphere.

    4. increase in creativity

    Fresh air and the feeling of being in nature have been proven to stimulate creativity and performance. Pausing and conferencing in a well-designed outdoor area promotes the flow of ideas and interactions between employees. There are various possibilities for them to communicate together or to seek peace and quiet.

    5. productivity increase

    A relaxing and creativity-enhancing environment naturally also leads to an increase in productivity. A rather stressed employee, who is often under stress, can hardly work productively. Natural plants, daylight and oxygen have a calming and stimulating effect at the same time.

    6. reduction of sick days

    Many workers suffer from psychosocial stress at work, which often leads to illness and absenteeism. This is an unsatisfactory situation for employers and employees alike. Through the many positive effects of a company garden, this stress is reduced, the general well-being is increased and thus the number of sick days is significantly reduced.

    7. improvement of the microclimate

    Environmental pollution or heat often affect the climate in and around the company building. The professional use of plants, natural stone and/or possibly water is an ideal way to improve the microclimate. Plants absorb CO2 and filter fine dust. At the same time, they release oxygen, keep moisture in the soil and provide shade. Natural stone absorbs the heat of the day and stores it. If it is watered, the moisture evaporates and also contributes to the improvement of the microclimate.

    8. environmental awareness

    Sustainability and environmental awareness are topics that have been in the spotlight for some time now. The design of a garden impressively documents that a company takes up these issues and is aware of its responsibility in this respect. Apart from ist own surroundings, this measure also contributes to the greening of cities and makes them more liveable.

    9. green business card/image improvement

    The corporate philosophy plays a major role in its image cultivation. The external design of a company is now perceived just as much as the website or business equipment. An ecological imprint and sustainable action is credibly proven by a company garden. The first impression counts – with the customer, like with the potential coworker, and that is to represent the quality of the company and the products.

    10. increase of the real estate value

    Last but not least – a factor not to be underestimated is the influence of a professionally and aesthetically designed outdoor facility on the value of the property as a whole. Here, too, it makes a difference, of course, whether a picture is monotonous to the observer from the outside.

     

    These are certainly sufficient good reasons to think about this topic. In the meantime, there are outstanding examples worldwide of how garden designers have realized the importance of green for companies. Be it as an outdoor facility, patio, i.e. courtyard or roof garden, adapted to the architecture and philosophy of the company, the design is more formal or more natural. Even a large complex can be beautifully integrated into the surrounding landscape.

    A company garden is a wonderful opportunity to bring nature to the company and to use its powers.

     

    Read more in the current article by Peter Berg for Accelerate Academy

    Originally, the garden planned and planted by Peter Berg and his team at the Arp Museum was a temporary project. At the end of 2019 the magnificent combination of natural stones, perennials and trees was to be dismantled to make room for something new. All the more reason for us to be pleased that it has been decided that this beautiful work will remain in existence for another year.

    A few current impressions can be found here.

    Close-up on nice different flowers
    Natural rocks in front of fresh-looking green trees

    The front garden must not do any work
    It must be easy to care for and therefore make as little work as possible, until no work at all. Today this is more and more the maxim. Especially in modern new buildings one sees increasingly a stone desert of coarse gravel instead of a front garden designed with plants. This is not good for the eye, the insects or the climate. Garden designer Peter Berg therefore pleads for more naturalness in front of our front doors. Above all, we should use more woody plants that bind the fine dust, produce oxygen and lower the temperature.

    Easy-care aesthetic front garden design convinces
    As an experienced garden designer, Peter Berg knows that a natural front garden created with planning requires little maintenance, but offers many advantages. A well thought-out combination of structure-giving natural stone with selected, long-lived plants considerably reduces the maintenance effort. At the same time however thereby an ecologically valuable range is created, from which humans, as well as nature profit. Also the optics is substantially more convincing and raises at the same time the value of the entire real estate.

    Foils and gravel are no problem solvers
    If you want to have an ecological and natural garden, an understanding of nature is indispensable. Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly rare today. Especially in the front garden area the large area use of gravel is preferred. This testifies to an unnatural relationship to “cleanliness” and the belief that one would never have work like this again. However, this is a deceptive conclusion. “Nature always seeks its way,” says Peter Berg. Even supposedly dense foils and heavy rocks do not help. An entry of weeds from the environment cannot be avoided, and when trying to remove them, one inevitably gets stuck in the foils.

    Trees improve the climate
    Especially in our ever warmer climate and summer temperatures approaching 40 degrees, large deciduous trees are particularly important. They provide protection for humans and animals from increasingly intense solar radiation. At the same time, they are real climate-improvers. With their foliage they create a light shade and contribute to cooling the environment. The evaporation of water has an extremely positive influence on the environment, which also benefits other plants. In addition, woody plants absorb CO2 from the air and give us oxygen. Even fine dust, which now pollutes not only large cities, is absorbed by them.

    In Berg’s front garden alone, you can already see five different types of trees and shrubs that adorn it with their lush greenery. Attractive grasses and shrubs are planted underneath. “In nature, every piece of soil is covered with plants,” explains the expert. “There is undesirable vegetation only if it is not planted closed or the plants do not fit together.

    Woods, shrubs and grasses offer birds and insects an ideal habitat, improve our climate and create a piece of nature in our private sphere – and this also includes the front garden.

     

     

    Yesterday a delegation from the company Arteza Landscape Design from Moscow visited the garden designer Peter Berg. Together with some colleagues and the director of Arteza, Dimitriy Onishchenko, as well as Mrs. Knack from the Lappen tree nursery (who were also the tree sponsor for the Arp Museum), Peter Berg’s private garden was first paid a visit before we proceeded to the Arp Museum. The subject of gardens is generally very topical in Russia, and in Moscow in particular. Investments are not only being made in private gardens but also in urban greenery, and Arteza is leading in this sector in Moscow. Peter Berg reported that they were able to use the time for a very refreshing and interesting exchange.

    The gardener and philosopher Karl Foerster described them as “grasses are the hair of Mother Earth” and they are gaining increasing levels of influence in the design of new gardens. Not only is their innate lightness impressive, but in addition, their many possible uses are an absolute enrichment for every plantation. “They bring a fourth dimension to gardens. In even the lightest wind they clearly show movement,” explains garden designer Peter Berg. They create the connection of the garden with the landscape.

    Cutting at the right time
    Both the selection of grasses – some spread wildly or sprout underground – and the right cutting time are essential. According to Peter Berg, pruning should take place “preferably in springtime shortly before the budding, a hand’s width above the ground”. Soon fresh green sprouts out, growing into filigree stalks in spring. In summer, inconspicuous grass might well reward with a flowering splendour. And even in autumn and winter these plants have their very own charm; adorned with frost or snow or delicately illuminated by the rays of the winter sun.

    The right combination makes the difference!
    The selection of grass varieties should absolutely depend on the conditions of the garden. Is the location dry, humid, sunny or half in shadow? How much space does the grass need, does it grow upright or does it arch to the side? The surrounding planting is also of importance. The combination of spring onions and grasses is particularly recommended, as they already provide an attractive garden bed in spring. “Small, simple wild forms should be given preference over large-flowered tulips and daffodils,” says Peter Berg.

    Early weeding
    Unwanted plant species have plenty of space to spread on uncovered soil. Some are carried in by the wind, others already slumber in the ground. Peter Berg therefore advises early weeding, especially when planting new plants, in order to prevent strong seed production and thus wild growth from the outset. Because once the weeds have blossomed, they quickly seed themselves in the bed and begin to dominate.

    Allow Peter Berg’s “company garden” for “Arendberg Monastery” to inspire you: Arendberg Monastery

    Since technology has opened up almost unlimited possibilities for artificial lighting outdoors and even under water, hardly any ambitious garden afficionado would want to do without such options. The design possibilities with light outdoors are certainly manifold. Trees can be illuminated in their full splendour, spotlights highlight individual details, and simple structures – when properly illuminated – become works of art during nocturnal hours. “A successful lighting concept in the garden lives from the exciting interaction between light and dark and effectively displays a garden above and beyond daylight,” says garden designer Peter Berg from Sinzig.

    In ideal cases, the luminaires cannot be seen

    Lighting design has long played an important role in the garden projects of GartenLandschaft Berg. Because through such projects, owners coming home after work do not look into a dark hole when viewing their garden, but can enjoy the poetry of the shapes even in the dark. Light has the most important function in spatial language and directs the eye of the beholder. However, glare in such situations is the death of every cosy atmosphere. The eye automatically looks into the brightest point and then does not respond fast enough to focus again on the person opposite or on the path. If benches, steps and kerbs are discreetly illuminated, this on the other hand ensures safety.

    Light is also impressive when combined with water. For this reason, a pond or fountain near to a seat should be especially set in scene at night. If the water surface is calm, it’s a good idea to illuminate the surrounding plants to create reflections. If, on the other hand, the surface is set in motion by a stream or a water feature, underwater spotlights achieve the greater effect. If used skilfully, they ensure that light transmits the wave movements of the water as fascinating patterns onto the surrounding surfaces.

    The expert advises against a completely illuminated garden. Because through shadow, spatial language becomes alive. Plays of shadow also stimulate the imagination and arouse curiosity about what is behind things. “Illuminating a garden should be as discreet as possible,” says Berg. The secret of perfect planning is that light can be seen at certain points, but no luminaires. Also, it creates a wonderful atmosphere when moonlight in the garden still creates shadows. This interplay of light and shadow is considered a high art of lighting design in the garden. The lighting should not cause glare or be too bright or dazzling. “Ultimately, there are few gardeners who can do this perfectly,” admits Berg. Fortunately though, some lighting designers specialise in outdoor areas. Peter Berg for example often works with Fritz Döpper from ‘lichtundcreatives’ in Hilden, who has illuminated many gardens.

    Laying cable ducts at an early stage

    Instead of using a powerful spotlight from the house wall to immerse everything in glistening light, professionals open up the space to the human eye through a variety of illuminated points. This not only provides orientation but also conveys a feeling of security and wellbeing. Instead of “alarm lighting”, designers rely on a mix of permanently installed and variable garden spotlights, explains Berg. A tree can be illuminated to advantage at any time of the year. But things are different in beds: if a spotlight illuminates attractive shrubs there in summer, it is directed onto the adjacent grasses from autumn onwards. Movable spotlights allow flexibility without having to re-route cables. If possible, power supply should be installed in the ground at an early stage of garden planning, because retrofitting ducts is expensive and laborious. “Even if the budget is tight, it’s advisable to have a lighting concept at the start of the outdoor work,” explains the designer. Such planning pays off in the long run: if the connections are already in the ground when the luminaires, transformers and circuitry are finally purchased, the lighting design can be implemented quickly and without major earthworks – and carefully created surfaces do not have to be torn open again.

    Plan multiple circuits

    In order to create the right mood for any situation, garden lighting with several circuits is recommended. Light can be switched on or off as desired using a remote control. If the seating place is changed or a spotlight causes glare, all you need to do is press a button. The garden designer also recommends a twilight switch for his clients. “If home-owners come home from work in the dark and glance up at their illuminated house tree they immediately feel welcome.” A single eye-catcher is usually enough for this. An illuminated wall also looks elegant, either as a bright surface or with shadows cast by trees and grasses. For safety reasons, it is also advisable to make steps, and trip hazards such as a higher wooden deck, visible at night. Peter Berg therefore likes to illuminate steps, handrails and terraces from below. This creates the fascinating effect that the surfaces seem to float upon light.

    Light needs shadow to have impact

    But how bright should a garden be? Dark corners are needed for light to have impact, and also for moths to find dark places despite the lighting. The favourite illuminated place catches the eye all the more if the surroundings are immersed in semi-darkness. A successful concept often reminds the owners of a holiday resort with illuminated palm trees and a lit pool. The more complex a garden is designed, the more it can be illuminated. Two light sources are sufficient on the other hand for a terraced house garden with a hedge-lined lawn. If people wish to illuminate their gardens during the Advent season, they should also plan in weatherproof sockets. A light net over the box tree ball or in the fir tree is then quickly implemented.

    LEDs are first choice in gardens

    Today, professionals almost exclusively use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in gardens. They consume comparatively little electricity. However, this doesn’t achieve savings in the garden because of the high purchase costs (LEDs cost about twice as much as conventional lamps) and the short operating times. The luminaires also generate much less heat than others. This means they can be mounted without problems on tree roots for example. Another advantage: 90 percent of the UV component that attracts moths to artificial light sources and causes them to die is filtered out of the light sources.

    LEDs are still associated with cool light. For the developers in the Far East, human perception was initially not an issue. In the meantime there are many different light colours adapted to needs in different parts of the world. In Spain, for example, light with a high blue component is often used because it has a cooler impact. The Finns, on the other hand, prefer warm, yellowish light. For our latitudes a warm white light colour in the range of 2800 to 3000 Kelvin is ideal. The low blue component also ensures that green plants do not have a grey look in the light.

    Our garden expert Peter Berg is a landscape gardener from Sinzig, Germany. He has been active in the region for 16 years with his company GartenLandschaft Berg. Twice already, in 2011 and 2014, he was honoured by the industry as Germany’s best garden designer and has also published three books. During the garden weeks he provides professional tips every week. Next week will be about design possibilities with hedges.

    A good eye and trained senses are indispensable prerequisites for aesthetic garden design. Peter Berg targets a very special approach with his philosophy: his gardens should be sustainable and natural – mainly ensured by the use of natural stone. They should be reduced to a few materials and radiate a pleasant sense of calm, also in the choice of colours. And they have to meet the highly individual needs of their owners. Based on this concept, unique gardens have been created whose fascination lies in the clarity of their design. The most beautiful of these can be seen for the first time in this magnificent volume.

    Just as in architecture and fashion, trends in garden design are constantly changing. Renowned open space designers such as Peter Berg from Sinzig orient themselves both to the zeitgeist and to the style of modern domiciles. Just like a good piece of clothing, a garden should on the one hand meet the taste of its owner and on the other hand match the building. Whilst an English cottage garden wonderfully sets the stage for a small brick house, a modern house gains in charisma within a clearly structured, linear environment.

    Clarity instead of flourishes
    Just as ornaments and decor hardly play a role in the architecture of modern houses any more, designers also dispense with such components in contemporary gardens. “Purist principles are perceived as being attractive especially in today’s world, in the whirl of media and floods of information – also because we have to consider reduction as a necessity for the future of our planet,” says Peter Berg in the foreword of his book “Modern Garden Architecture”. The aim of contemporary garden design is no longer to create functional terraces and paths or overflowing beds. Rather, the focus is on creating a clear and reassuring clarity in which nothing is left to chance. “New simplicity” is the name of the style, which is intended to convey purity, beauty and tranquillity to the observer via strict lines, geometric shapes and the deliberately sparing use of colours. This sounds like little work, but in practice is exactly the opposite: successful garden design highlights the strengths and peculiarities of a property and masks disturbances. A professional designer captures the influences and characteristics of a location and relates them to the attitudes of users and clients. “Ideally, this will create a smooth transition from the house to the garden. The newly developed space is occupied, lived in and permanently inhabited by the people in a natural way,” says Peter Berg.

    The garden as a way of life
    Your own garden has become part of a new attitude to life in which money is invested to achieve relaxation and diversion within green surroundings. Hardly any homeowner now does without a comfortable place for eating at the house, which is ideally canopied, says Berg. Cooking, eating and celebrations take place outdoors. High-quality gas grills and even complete outdoor kitchens are finding more and more enthusiasts. Free time is spent outside. Those who can afford it invest in a pool or a swimming pond. An own bathing facility is very much in vogue – in contrast to digging up and mowing the lawn. A modern garden should offer comfort and diversion, but should be as easy to care for as possible and not make more work than necessary.

    Investment pays off
    The plants in modern gardens are also adapted to this attitude to life. Grasses and shrubs are currently in vogue. Expertly and sustainably planned according to their natural requirements, such beds require little care, look attractive throughout the year and are also ecologically valuable. Even woody plants are today no longer selected by garden owners according to how fast they grow. On the contrary – slowly growing and therefore valuable shrubs and trees are highly popular. So that garden owners do not have to wait several years until the plants have reached the desired height and develop their full charisma, they are already purchased in large size from the nurseries. In a so-called “instant garden”, an outdoor area is so skilfully designed and planted that it gives the impression that it has been growing on location for years. A well-landscaped and maintained garden is also a valuable investment and, according to an international survey from Finland, can increase the repurchase value of a home in Germany by an average 18 percent. “Professional garden design and maintenance is money well-invested; on average, each euro is rewarded with an increase in the value of the house of 2.60 euros,” says Berg.