If you brush against a cat’s hair, you will be in trouble. This also applies to nature. The most important lesson we learn at Floriade’s ‘school playground’ is that you have to move with nature.
The schoolyard is the third part of Utopia Island; there is a lot to learn here. Because how do you do that, move with nature? And why? Xavier San Giorgi, designer of Utopia Island: “When we learn to move with how nature works, we can use the original power that nature possesses.”
In the schoolyard you will find various examples of interacting with nature. The most striking feature is the metre-high Willowman: an image of a person surrounded by tunnels of willow branches. The artist Will Beckers lived 10 years ago in a self-woven willow hut at Floriade in Venlo, and asked visiting children to write down their wish for nature. The wishes of the past now hang in the wish aisles. “It’s quite confronting to read,” says Xavier. “Because even though they are beautiful, it is unfortunately only worse with nature. Have we really learned nothing since then?” At this Floriade, people can express their wish for nature in a wishing horn in the food forest. “We encourage people to think about the question: how could you move with nature?”
Groups 6 and 7 at Almeerse school De Verwondering and Amsterdam school Neptunus set a good example by maintaining their own vegetable gardens. “They learn here that when you feed life in the soil, you get healthy vegetable garden plants in return,” says Xavier. “And it gives us extra healthy food.” The students have rolled up their sleeves every week in recent months to ensure that the food web in the soil works optimally. Now they have the gardens ready for the summer holidays.
Wild Weelde City Garden
Garden designers Emiel and Margo sit at a picnic table in the shade of their urban garden. The designers are associated with Wilde Weelde, a professional association of gardeners, growers, designers, arborists and suppliers of organic gardens and garden materials. Satisfied, they look out over the Wilde Weelde Stadstuin. “It has become even more beautiful than I could have dreamed of,” says Emiel. “When you submit a design, you often expect that some water must be added to the wine. But that was certainly not the case here. Our colleagues at Wilde Weelde thought well and helped. In the end, we did it together.”
Source of life
The tiered urban garden is spiral-shaped, which makes it fit perfectly into the larger landscape of the school yard. In the center is a lively pond, symbolizing the source of life. Bees buzz around and birds make grateful use of the birdhouses. “When the pond was just built in the spring, frogs had already laid eggs there,” says Margo. Margo and Emiel laugh at the comment that animals appreciate this. “They accept it. It’s something else. After all, humans are the invaders in their habitat.”
Sit on your hands
“We have tried to make the garden as attractive as possible for all animals,” continues Emiel. “Our principles are: sustainable use of materials, recycling of materials, as much biodiversity as possible and of course no poison.” The latter is sometimes quite a challenge for many gardeners. “If there are pests of a certain insect or animal species, a solution must be found in harmony with nature. Then you discover that it is best to sit on your hands. The solution often appears.”
This is also what happens when the Floriade closes its doors on October 9. Now butterflies and birds find their way to the garden, but humans are dominantly present. “The garden invites you to move with it, as you can see,” says Emiel. Floriade visitors walk, see, research and discover the circular courtyard overlooking the Weerwater. Emiel and Margo maintain the garden regularly. But after October 9th it will no longer happen. Then there won’t be many people around here anymore, and animals will find their place more and more. Then nature can turn it into a lush, overgrown ruin. An eco-cathedral.
Experience Utopia Island
This is part 3 of a triptych about Utopia Island. You don’t have to be at Floriade to discover the island. We take you on the discovery route of this part of Floriade that will continue to exist after the Expo.
Haven’t read about Utopia Island yet? A field guide with even more information will be released soon! Look at utopiaeiland.nl/webwinkel
Do you want to support the initiative so that Utopia Island continues to exist after the Floriade? Then go to utopiaeiland.nl/steun-ons