Close Menu
Filter by … Close filter

Search articles & filter



150 years of winter
BE! Tourism
Wunder von Bern
Show results

Urban Gardeners with a Passion

BE! Tourism, 15.03.2017

The concept is as simple as it is impressive: The seeds of flowers or herbs are rolled up into a mixture of clay and earth, and then dried. Later, when the seedballs are placed on the earth and watered regularly the result is a blooming splendour. Hence it is no wonder that the seedballs from Gorilla Gardening in Bern are such a hot item.

Seedballs are no modern invention – in past times, the Indians rolled their flower and herb seeds in a mixture of earth and clay and then spread these on their land in the springtime. This method was then forgotten for many years until the American Garden Guerrilla movement started calling for an urban greening revolution. Then it was that these brown balls were brought out of mothballs, so to speak, and helped the cities to bloom anew.

Severin Bartholdi and Raphael Corneo were quite fascinated by all this. Now just where can you get hold of seedballs in Switzerland? Almost nowhere, as their research showed. And so they downloaded the instructions from the internet and worked meticulously to create their very first seedballs. In the beginning their focus was mainly on doing something new and exciting: "It was more of an adventure, and friends helped us with the design of the labels, the little cloth bags and the website; then some of our relatives bought the first items." That was three years ago. Then an article appeared in the Sonntagszeitung newspaper, the orders piled up, the first dealer showed an interest, and the seedballs started to roll.

Today, the Gorilla Gardeners – the name being a humorous allusion to their American forerunners – are so successful that they have been able to spend less and less time doing their original jobs in order to better devote their energies to the seedballs. They produce the entire range by hand at their studio on the outskirts of Bern. There are now six different seedballs and seedpills, a do-it-yourself kit, and these are soon to be followed by a bee hotel.

"We deliver our seedballs throughout Switzerland. Most are used in private areas rather than in public places. Not least because of the cost involved," Raphael clarified.

Anyone looking to make their surroundings greener has a choice of seedballs with wild flowers, poppies, wild herbs as well as sunflowers, nasturtiums and bee-attracting flowers. When will the first vegetable seedballs be made? "That would not work well", Severin explained, "vegetables are too difficult to use for this uncomplicated method, and in any case, tomatoes, kohlrabi and other vegetables need much more intensive care."

ps. Urban Gardening
Urban gardeners, or city gardeners as they are sometimes called, are people who transform uncultivated green spaces, disused areas and even stretches of pavement into thriving oases. They grow tomatoes, kohlrabi, nasturtiums and basil along borders and in discarded crates or pots – in the heart of the urban jungle. Sometimes they do this alone but more often in groups. In Bern there have been six such group projects implemented so far, and these include the hanging gardens in the Breitenrain district and the vegetable garden on the grounds of the disused Burgernziel tram depot.
Severin Bartholdi and Raphael Corneo's Bern-Tips

Ping pong on the "Pläfe"
As far as we are concerned, "summer is just not summer without ping pong". As soon as the first warming rays of the sun strike the cathedral platform, we head straight for the "Pläfe", as we Bernese call the terrace on the slopes leading down to the Aare river. There is no more secluded place for ping pong tables than here under the lime trees and horse chestnuts. And what is more, between games you can either gaze at the Alps or watch the colourful crowds of people. (German)
After-work swim from Eichholz to Marzili
Our studio on the outskirts of Bern is not far from Eichholz and we use it in the summer. Then we leave the bikes behind in the evening and walk down to the lawn, pack our clothes into our Bernese float bag and drift down the beautiful green Aare river to Marzili-Bad. This really serves to keep us refreshed and alert after work.
Beautiful pre-loved treasures at the central market
In our opinion, the Flohmi central market located on the Dampfzentrale (steam centre) site is the capital city’s most beautiful. Why? Well, on the one hand, the products are more select than those being sold elsewhere. For example, one of the stands carries beautiful lamps from the 1960s. And our lady friends do rave on about the many clothes stalls too. On the other hand, the setting is particularly attractive as well: The space where electricity used to be produced for Bern’s economy has been able to retain its industrial wood flooring and the clinker walls – an atmospheric place where you can enjoy a beer or a homemade iced tea while recovering from the stresses of shopping. (German)
ProSpecieRara ornamental plants market at the Elfenau
The ProSpecieRara ornamental plants market is held once a year in the amazingly beautiful park at the Villa Elfenau (this year on 22 May). In addition to such almost forgotten plants as the hydrangea dragonfly and the poppy Karminönig, it is the special atmosphere at the green park that draws us here. It is peaceful and relaxing here despite the crowds of people – one would think that everyone in Bern bought their balcony plants here. The people lie on the grass, enjoy pizzas from the wood oven, and daydream under the clouds passing by overhead. (German)
Falafel and an after-work beer at the Café Kairo
When we really want to celebrate the end of the working day, we drop in at the Café Kairo. We feel quite at home here at this little restaurant with its golden bar, its carefully arranged furniture and its warm and welcoming team. It not only serves the city’s finest falafel dishes, but also boasts one of the prettiest urban gardens. As a matter of fact, the alternative "Garden Festival" is held here each year at the same time as the city’s Gurten Festival. (German)
comments powered by Disqus