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In the garden with: August Forster (BGL President)

In our new series „In the garden with…“, we regularly talk to important characters from the garden sector – on current topics, fascinating developments, and their personal dream gardens. For our first conversation amidst greenery, we had BGL President August Forster by our side.

BGL President August Forster - Photo: BGL
BGL President August Forster – Photo: BGL

August Forster is a landscape gardener and owner of the landscaping firm Forster Garten- und Landschaftsbau GmbH in Bonn. He has been President of the Federal Association of Horticulture, Landscaping & Sports Facilities Construction (BGL) e.V. since 2011. His philosophy is to holistically plan and design private gardens and commercial green areas. Here, the emphasis is on the love to nature and the environment. Technical know-how, craftsmanship and above all plant knowledge is important to him.

Mr Forster, you spend the whole year dealing with gardens as a profession. Can you describe your own dream garden?

Forster: My wife and I – she is also a landscape designer – live our garden dream in our landscape park “Am Blauen See” (At the Blue Lake). Ages ago, there used to be a basalt quarry on the grounds in the Siebengebirge. In the 1960s the landscape architect, Heinrich Raderschall, purchased it and began to create a park based on the model of a classic English landscape garden. The park grounds stretch over 3.5 hectares and are an oasis for the senses: Here, one can see, hear, smell, feel and even taste nature – the human being becomes part of the landscape. Instead of rigid forms there are winding paths, wide areas of grass, free growing groups of trees. The central point is – as the name of the park suggests – a wonderful pond. Since 2003 we have also been opening this piece of garden culture to interested visitors. We additionally offer a diversified cultural programme at regular intervals. If you don’t know “Am Blauen See” yet, drop by and let yourself be surprised. The park is as if enchanted especially now in the spring: When thousands of flower bulbs start blooming in bright colours even before the first trees have started getting their new leaves, nature is already totally vibrant again.

At the beginning of the year, the BGL launched an initiative entitled “Save the front garden”. What is this about, why does the front garden have to be saved?

Forster: In recent years, one often discovers a form of garden both in front of private and public buildings that stands out because it looks the same all year round. Instead of vegetation and diversified designs, you see mainly stones – as a gravel or crushed rock surface. Particularly in development areas stones in front of the houses are becoming more and more popular. This is a shame because a green front garden not only makes a house look inviting, in today’s times of climate change, this fulfils much more important tasks: It makes part of the green space in cities and an important infiltration area for rainwater. On hot days the evaporation on the many small garden areas is decisive for the well-being in the direct living environment of the people. The mid-term goal behind our initiative is for house owners to learn to appreciate the value of the area in front of the building for themselves, but also for the neighbourhood, the cityscape and finally the atmosphere in the direct living environment and to want to cultivate it with living plants. The effect of the initiative within the profession is also important to our association. The specialised horticultural and landscaping companies should in future put forward good reasons to oppose the customers’ requests for gravel and crushed rock gardens.

"Am Blauen See" Landscape Park - Photo: P. Menke
“Am Blauen See” Landscape Park – Photo: P. Menke

How do you think the private garden will change in the future?

Forster: One’s own garden will continue to be a place of desire where one can leave the hectic of everyday life behind and relax in a nice environment. People have high expectations in gardens, even though they have less and less own experience and knowledge about plants. The demand for gardens created by experts is thus growing. Often people wish a immediately finished garden: For example, the hedge should be as tight as possible in the first year already and fruit trees should bear fruit immediately.

Outdoor living is also an important aspect. Today, many gardens are designed as the interior design of the house. Whether a garden sauna with an outdoor shower, an outdoor kitchen, special light installations or items of art – many people don’t want to do without the comforts of their own home in the garden either. And the progressing digitalization of our everyday life has long since reached the garden too. Robotic lawnmowers take on the job of cutting the lawn autonomously, automatic irrigation systems ensure the plants are carefully maintained and also save water. Many repeating garden jobs have in the meantime become automated. Despite all of the technology though: The essential elements that make a garden are still living plants.

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