Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: landscape

My Lovely New Garden… Inspired by Frankenmuth

My New Garden

My family went to Frankenmuth for Labor Day weekend and the very first day that we returned home I bought a rocking bench to put on our front porch, and the next day, I told my husband that we had to change our landscape. The jungle we had in the front of our house was getting out of control, and it was ugly. And it looked even uglier after I had the opportunity to sit amongst the lovely landscape and floral displays in Frankenmuth.

He said, “Sure, I’ll do it next spring.”

That statement was not promising so I started looking for a landscape gardener.  Within less than a month, my landscape was transformed. I replaced gigantic bushes with lots of colorful flowers, an apple tree and a pear tree.  After ten years of living in this house, I’m finally able to enjoy my front yard.

I always say you don’t need to travel far to find inspiration, and this is a perfect example. A town that’s only one hour away from my home truly inspired me, not only with regards to the landscaping but with its other splendors.

Frankenmuth, nicknamed “Little Bavaria”, has a population of roughly 5,000 people. It’s a beautiful city that has more than three million visitors each year. It is famous for Zender’s Restaurant, which serves homemade Bavarian chicken, and for Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, the world’s largest Christmas store.

The night we were there, we rode a horse carriage where we saw a house where the same family has lived for over a hundred years. We learned from the horse carriage driver that the owner of Zender’s Restaurant is 94 years old and that she still works every day in the kitchen, except for Monday. Mondays she teaches her grandchildren how to bake. This bit of information made me feel quite young.  Another brownie point for Frankenmuth!

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The Clearing, a Magical School

Jens Jensen

A week ago I went with my sister to the Henry Ford Estate, to watch the documentary screening of Jens Jensen: The Living Green. We parked our car and to reach the house by foot, walked through a dense woodland area which was created by Jens Jenson, a Danish American landscape architect, known for his “prairie style” design work. He designed the gardens at the Henry Ford Estate and the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House.

I loved the character of this man, who considered himself an artist, not an architect. Jenson saw a connection between the performing arts and nature. He was called a Native Nature Poet. He summed up his philosophy by saying, “Every plant has fitness and must be placed in its proper surroundings so as to bring out tis full beauty. Therein lies the art of landscaping.” He believed that only when we leave the beauty of nature alone, as God created it, would we really have democracy.

At 75 years of age, Jensen, who wanted to create harmony between the hand of man and the hand of nature, established a school in 1935 called The Clearing in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin. It taught environmental citizenship and sought students Jenson thought would “study profoundly… do things worthwhile… not for oneself but for others.”

Jensen died in 1951, at the age of 91. But the school he founded is pretty alive. The Clearing offers year-long educational opportunities in three programs: the Summer program, the Workshop Program and the Winter Program. All programs offer a wide range of classes (which are taught in a relaxed and informal style), including painting, writing, quilting, birding, wood carving, poetry, rustic furniture making, photography, poetry, fine wood-working, music, weaving, philosophy, stained glass, metal work, nature study and paper arts.

Sounds like we have in our country more magical programs than Harry Potter ever did. The only thing is we need to discover them.