I am not ashamed to admit that I am sometimes like a little old lady in a 30-something’s body. I like to crochet, I enjoy drinking Schnapps, and I am totally addicted to watching “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix. I have also come to love gardening over the last three years and have fallen in love with this amazing store, Hellweg.

Last Saturday, I woke up and was flooded with excitement. It was the first Saturday in April, and the first very warm, sunny Saturday of the spring season this year. “I’m going to Hellweg!” I announced to my boyfriend. He rolled his eyes at me and said, “Ja, dein lieblings Laden,” (“Yes, your favorite store”) with a smirk. Hellweg is a “Baumarkt,” or a home improvement store here in Germany (similar to Lowe’s or Home Depot), with a fantastic, massive gardening section (and even a giant pet store inside!). For gardening enthusiasts like me, it’s heavenly. And, there’s a Hellweg store just one quick, 5-minute bike ride from our apartment. Win! My boyfriend says he has what Germans refer to as a “brown thumb,” so he doesn’t really understand this seasonal hobby of mine, but the lovely flowers that I grow are perfect for him to photograph (thus allowing him to have fun with his favorite hobby), so he doesn’t seem to mind so much.

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Flowers in my new terrace garden, April 2017

I will usually make a trip to Hellweg nearly every weekend for supplies and more plants throughout the spring and summer, and could spend hours there perusing the endless lanes of flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetable plants, seeds, pots, etc., etc., etc. I grew three giant, 8-ft. tall tomato plants last year on my terrace, as well as several herbs and strawberry plants, and I couldn’t wait to get started on this year’s garden. So, on Saturday, I was ready: I hopped on my bike and headed to the store, deciding as I pedalled through the park that I would only buy some tomato plants, herbs, and potting soil today. Yes, that would be enough. After all, that was about all I could carry on my bike, right?

I arrived at Hellweg, locked my bike, and went in. “I’d better grab one of these big carts, so that I don’t have to carry around that heavy potting soil,” I thought. I collected one and entered the store. I went straight to the gardening section in the back of the store and to find some potting soil, and was excited to notice that this year, unlike previous years, I understood all of the German on the labels. With this exciting realization, I headed towards the tomatoes and herbs, but on the way, passed some flowers. “Oooh, those are pretty!” I thought, “And they grow in half-shade…and they’re cheap! I can fit them on my bike. Oooh, and I love these, too! I’ll squeeze them in the bag somehow…ooh! Strawberries!”

You get the picture. Before I knew it, my shopping cart was totally full. I stopped myself from going through the rest of the gardening section and made a beeline to the cashier. I checked out and lugged my full shopping cart out to my bike.

The potting soil was draped over the back of my bike, my backpack was filled with fertiliser and plants, the extra large Hellweg bag that I brought was filled with flowers and herbs and hung on my shoulder, and the front basket of my bike was filled with a giant hanging flower pot, the flowers draping over the edges. It was heavy. An old man remarked in German that I should leave the flowers in my basket, because they looked so pretty that way, and chuckled at me as I rode away, my bike wobbling from all the weight and the difficulty of steering whilst holding a bag full of plants over one shoulder. I’m sure I looked ridiculous as I rode back  home through the park, and many people turned to stare at me with amused expressions, but I persevered and somehow made it home without killing myself nor destroying all of my new plants.

After dropping everything off at home and planting what I had purchased, I realized that a) I needed more potting soil, and b) I still had several pots that were empty. Obviously, I needed more plants…I just can’t have any empty pots, right? Right?! Well, at least that was the excuse that I gave myself to justify buying more of the gorgeous flowers that I had been admiring earlier. Back to Hellweg!

Now, after going to Hellweg three times in the last three days, one would probably assume that I would be finished. I have started a lovely–perhaps slightly ambitious, but lovely–terrace garden. I suppose that I should be satisfied with what I have already, but…I think that I would still like to add more.

Oh, well. I guess I will just have to return to Hellweg again. Schade. 😉

Below are a few pictures from my new terrace garden, which is, of course, a work in progress!

Photo Credit: Volker Petersen

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