• Hello! Are you in position?
  • yes
  • good.
  • This area is in many ways typical of Berlin. Some of the plants and animals which live in this space are introduced by humans, and some have grown by themselves.
  • Whether they are weeds, sparrows, dogs or flowers on a balcony, these living things are thriving because of the conditions people created. It’s a special urban ecosystem.
  • With this in mind, you are going to embrace your role as a human in shaping this non-human environment through conducting an INTERVENTIONIST FIELD TRIP.
  • You are an explorer and a planner. You are a gardener and a collector. Let’s begin.
  • Please walk along Marchlewskistrasse, towards the big trees which run along the railway line.
  • On your left, about 70m along, through the concrete fence posts and railings, you will see some tall trees with small metal numbers nailed to their trunks.
  • Every public tree in Berlin is identified and monitored yearly to make sure they are safe and healthy
  • although some people say the numbers are there to help return the trees to their homes if they run away.
  • Look ahead to the green forested section which stretches along the road.
  • This kind of area is the result of soil being dug up and then basically left alone for a long time.
  • It’s often found next to railway lines and on former bomb sites, as well as at abandoned factories and construction areas.
  • Flowers and small plants come first, then bushes, and then big trees.
  • You have a number of tools for this expedition
  • A trowel, an apple, a water bottle filled with liquid fertiliser, and bread.
  • Please also try and collect:
    Something living or ‘natural’ that you like
    Something living or ‘natural’ that you dislike
    Something that reminds you of your childhood
  • Continue walking up the same side of the street and stop when you are aligned with number 37 across the road. Let me know when you get there.
  • Here
  • Now look up. You should be standing under the TREE OF HEAVEN.
  • It is also known as the GHETTO PALM. This tree lives in disturbed or abandoned urban areas.
  • It’s found in huge numbers in densely populated parts of Berlin, but hardly ever in the countryside.
  • Can you see it? How does it compare to a real palm tree? Better? Worse?
  • Rate it on a scale of 1-10 (1 being worse than palm trees, 5 being the same, 10 being better than)
  • We vote democratically for a 3
  • 10…palms are a bit sadder than these trees
  • 5
  • 9
  • Wow these trees are so street smart and clever. I love palm trees for their texture and strength but also really respect this tree and admire it so I’ll have to say 5
  • 6
  • 5
  • 9
  • 3
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • Wouldn’t want to answer that. Many types of palm and it depends on the situation.
  • I can see it, it is worse but still beautiful in its own way. 3
  • It seems to have better shade coverage than real palm trees. And since in germany there are less bugs than in the tropics where i’m from. So… definitely better. Maybe a 7.
  • 4 it’s not as beautiful as a palm tree but green and makes the city pretty!
  • 10, real palm trees for me are somehow connected with tourist areas and fancy places which I don’t like as much. This one looks a bit like it doesn’t belong here but it is here I guess for a long time, it’s different from other trees around it and I like that a lot
  • Well it’s less cute than a real one, but on the other hand I appreciate resilient life forms that adapt to harsh environments so I give it a 6
  • It is a 5. It’s different, not necessarily better or worse. I guess if there would be a palm tree standing here it would attract my attention a lot more, but it would also not blend in so well and feel like it shouldn’t be here.
  • 8. It sounds like a trailblazer, leading the way for nature to claim back the city.
  • There are no ‘real palm trees’ – so this is real and therefore ‘better’… 5.5
  • 5 – the name ghetto palm is way cool. It creates a beautiful multifaceted ceiling but it doesn’t make the same special rattly sound as a real palm when the wind blows it.
  • Now move forward until you are opposite number 35 and look up. You are standing under a BLACK LOCUST.
  • This tree used to be very rare in Berlin until the city was bombed in the Second World War.
  • The Black Locust loved the new, rubbly environment and have been taking over abandoned areas everywhere since.
  • In spring their flowers fill the air with pollen that catches in your throat and makes you cough.
  • Keep walking, taking notice of the flowers and plants on the balconies to your right.
  • One balcony at number 27 contains a caged bird of some kind. You may hear it chattering away to itself as you walk past.
  • The bird must be asleep, but there is a painting of a seagull on one of the balconies.
  • Indeed, it is chirping.
  • Passing the bird, hope she at least enjoys singing with the other birds from that cage…
  • It’s not talking can you turn it on please?
  • What are the top three things you would like to have on your balcony?
  • Swinging chair, tomatoes plant and a nice view of the sea
  • Tomatoes, basilikum, gerberas
  • Flowers, tomatoes and a nice sitting place
  • Skis, sleigh, matches
  • Comfortable chair, cold drink, canopy
  • On my dream balcony I’d like to have big sunflowers, a hammock with vines climbing on it and lots of carrot and beetroots. Ooo and tomatoes.
  • 1 herbal garden 2 good music 3 sun
  • A comfortable chair, edible plants and sunshine
  • Verbena, lavender, sunflowers
  • A rocking chair, plants and a table
  • A folding chair, a plant and a minibar
  • Hammock. Herbs. Cold drink.
  • Herbs of all kinds, edible flowers such as nasturtiums, nice smells such as lavender or honeysuckle, climbers and drapers, vegetables
  • Chairs, herbs, small flowers
  • A deckchair, a garden and a beehive.
  • Plenty of plants, candles in the wind, hammock
  • Plants (more green ones than flower but they should be there too), couch with pillows and a table, that can fit two coffees, ashtray and some plates, not a big one
  • Tons of wild weeds, a wicker rocking chair and a stationary water gun turret
  • I would like to have a lot of plants that I can use for cooking, something to sit comfortably for me and my friends and an umbrella for some shade
  • I want to grow tomatoes. I have an idea of growing them in a bag of soil. A deck chair to sit out and enjoy the sunshine, and a cold beer while i’m sat there
  • Hangematte, tree, smart drainage system
  • Tomato plants bamboo hammock
  • Walk for a while along on the same side of the road you become level with the Sunflower Hostel opposite on the corner of Pillauer Strasse.
  • Just before you get to a metal cage/fence, on your left side, there is a small overgrown garden.
  • Take a good look and decide which is your favourite plant or section of the garden. Pour your fertiliser there to encourage it to grow.
  • On the zucchini to let them grow and be eaten one day. On the beautiful pink flower to nourish its beauty. On dying small daisies to save them.
  • Tomatoes of course…because they are good
  • Daisies and kale
  • A plant called zveroboi in Russian (we don’t know the english) and on some courgettes. Because Alisa’s grandmother collects zveroboi for making very healthy tea. And courgettes are delicious.
  • Mmm after a bit of observation and asking around with the plants I watered the zucchini plants since it looks like some of the leaves are yellowing and a few of the fruits are rotting before they ripen so maybe it needs a bit of extra support.
  • The German name is schafgabe
  • The pink flowers with large centres, because it looks like bees would like it and the soil around it is dry without mulch.
  • I fertilised the roses, because they look like they need it. They don’t survive as good on their own like the others. I like the zucchini as well.
  • A purple flower. Was unique and looked thirsty.
  • Ok I gave it to St John’s wort, looked like it needs a helping hand, plus it helps to fight depression and a few people around here might use it.
  • Zucchini. Because it will make a nice dinner.
  • KALE! I found a kale plant. I eat a lot of kale… Therefore I’d give kale an advantage. Since I eat so much of it.
  • Courgettes. They like as much as possible, though they seem pretty well looked after, and the nasturtiums because we were just talking about them. Most things here look after themselves.
  • I chose the roses. This little garden is opposite a hostel. Maybe one day a boy is trying to win the heart of a girl and needs a rose to show here. We are all so busy and have to focus on small nice things.
  • On the only pink flower and one of its kind
  • I chose a plant on the right when you enter through some stones on the ground, it looks kind of dead and that’s why I guess it deserves it, the flowers are yellow inside and remind me of sunflowers which I like.
  • I poured it at a random spot with lots of different plants densely packed together. I can’t think of any reason to confer advantage to anyone and have no stake in it so I prefer to boost density.
  • I had to choose 2. 1 for the looks, the sunflower and 2 for the taste, the green cabbage.
  • I like the section with the edible plant. The courgettes remind me of my parents’ garden, and the kale reminds me of a time in Poland when an elderly gentleman on a tram gave my girlfriend a bag full from his allotment because he had too much. I gave the fertiliser to the kale.
  • Would have chosen the echinacea, but it looks well fertilised! Chose the thistle – reminds me of family and childhood in Scotland.
  • I fertilised the veggie patch because the zucchini plant is fruiting and needs more nutrition. And because I like to eat zucchini. I guess noone deserves an advantage.
  • Continue walking until you are opposite the large older building next to the hostel, with its lower level covered in graffiti.
  • This is the Dathe School. It was named after a famous zoologist, Heinrich Dathe, who had a popular radio program called ‘Overheard in the Zoo’.
  • The school has a small collection of animals that students are allowed to take home for short periods of time.
  • Most photographs of Mr Dathe show him hugging an exotic animal like a baby bear or a monkey. What was the last animal that you were photographed with?
  • With a gecko
  • A dog
  • A cat?
  • my friend’s dog Basil
  • I am scared of animals
  • I think the last visible animal would be a cat named Treble. But probably some bugs and butterflies around too.
  • Yes I think it was a bird flying behind the ship where I stood.
  • Is a bee an animal? Otherwise it was a bunny in belgrade!
  • I guess some insects and a fish in a park pond.
  • As a child, a tiger baby.
  • A one month old kitty.
  • A dutch black cat called Gus.
  • My daughter. Other than that a very green grasshopper last week.
  • To be exact a human, but in this context a bird I think a crow.
  • The last intentional animal photo I’ve taken was with a white rabbit I found on my street back home. I didn’t keep the rabbit for long, it wasn’t really mine and it ate all my kale.
  • With the family dog
  • My cat, Chopin
  • A black dog named Jack, last friday. The owner likes to take him along to parties, and also walk him without a leash in the city which I find irresponsible and barbaric. Also a lady bug the day before.
  • It was a cat
  • I was trying to take photographs of lizards in Greece, but they were too fast. I think there is one of me with a donkey.
  • Dragonfly in garden der welt
  • Besides all the party animals. Butterflies in the world’s largest butterfly enclosure!
  • Now move forward to the small patch of grass with three trees, one with no leaves, next to the school.
  • Take your apple out. Eat as much as you want and place or throw the core in a part of the car park or surrounds you would like an apple tree to grow.
  • Most apples from supermarkets will revert to their wild type, growing a crabapple tree with many small, hard, sour apples rather than the big sweet grafted one you ate (if they sprout at all.)
  • Where did you put the apple? Why did you choose that spot?
  • We put some opposite a pillar for symmetry reasons and the rest next to the dead tree to give new hope.
  • Done…apple is planted in the spot with the dead tree…and also fertilized since I kept a bit of fertilizer.
  • Under a plane tree nearby.
  • Apple was delicious. I closed my eyes and threw it up to land where it wanted to because choosing seemed wrong.
  • I placed it between the middle one and the left one that’s bare to make a geometric pattern. I hope it sprouts!
  • I placed the apple behind the middle tree. It’s a calm place, not too close to the walls.
  • In the left corner, to fill the gap.
  • I placed it next to a row of tiny bushes, that look like mini rhododendron. I hope they might give shelter to the little tree to come.
  • In the middle of the grass area, next to a small bush so it will also have a cool shadow.
  • Amongst already growing low bushes about 5m away from the street.
  • Under the graffiti of the panda bear. Because it looks lonely and hungry.
  • Thrown it in the greenery where it will never grow but fertilise something else, or feed a rat.
  • I put it right between the trees still with leaves on. I think there it will have space to grow if it grows at all.
  • I’ve put the apple core in the open space between two of the trees, hopefully with enough space to grow.
  • We put it on the right side in good company with the others.
  • That was a good apple, so I put it behind the second tree near some clovers that grow there, I guess and apple tree would look nice there.
  • All the apples are evenly distributed so I chose the one corner where there wansn’t any in front of the maka graffiti. One of the apples is untouched by the way.
  • Oops, I threw it from across the street. It seemed convenient because is set here anyways. It accidentally landed on the roof. I threw it from a distance because I didn’t feel like picking the exact spot, I wanted it to ‘happen’.
  • I put it close to the footpath so that if it grows it will hang over and be part of the public space.
  • As part of the hedge along the back – it will all be hawthorn and crab apple.
  • 2 meters distance in front of the middle tree. There isn’t that much space but it would be nice if people and birds could eat sour apples all the time. I like sour! Delicious apple btw.
  • Cross back over the road and enter the community garden along the sandy path at the big concrete pillar.
  • Then turn left into the green section, taking the bigger, second path back the way you came. On your right will be another garden, set up for the Dathe school across the road.
  • See how the wild plants are invading the garden through the fence? Do you want to move a weed or garden plant to contribute to the process?
  • Take out your trowel and dig up a plant that you think would be better elsewhere. Find a new spot and plant it. What sort of plant did you choose? How far did you move it?
  • We found a plant from Sachsen but we don’t want to move it.
  • I would move the jasmine in a wider spot…I am leaving it alone…since it is perfectly fine.
  • It is even hard to decide what to move. Actually everything makes sense.
  • We don’t want to move the plants, they all seem so happy where they are.
  • So I decided to hop the fence and get a sprig of lavender since it’s one of my favourite plants and seemed to be doing alright and plentiful. And I transplanted it across the path on the more ‘wild’ side and watered it, wishing it to grow!
  • I took a ringelblume and placed her in one of the buckets with the black covers, the plant which was there before is already dead.
  • No we didn’t feel like moving anything. It all seems quite happy where it is.
  • I didn’t because I could decide where to start.
  • We moved a wild kind of grass into the garden itself.
  • I planted this plant with yellow button like flowers on the other side of the concrete wall, as there was this barren patch there. This plant helps against ringworm actually.
  • I would wait until the spring, dig most of it over, and grow edibles.
  • I did not choose any plant because I think it is beautiful when nature show its power to go through new fences – I like that!
  • If I moved any plants, I suppose it would be to improve its chances of survival. But it’s hard to tell with weeds sometimes. So I won’t move any, since I know so little about European weeds and their requirements. But if I found a dandelion or similar plant I would blow it over the garden.
  • We moved a little white wild flowers next to a pink one across the hostel by container.
  • I didn’t move anything cause I like the idea that it’s natural and not touched or planted by anyone, they just grow here as they want
    I’ve never been here and I really like these kind of wild gardens.
  • Nah i’m not moving anything, I think it’s cool as it is.
  • I don’t want to move anything. Most of the plants ended up where they are now because they can survive there. I want to keep it that way. But in my family’s garden, where someone can take car of the plants I do move them sometimes.
  • There is the beginnings of a nice tree right by a post that looks like it could use more space. It will take more than a trowel to move it though.
  • Left the berry where it is – maybe it’ll keep growing through the fence and eventually fruit… Moved something interesting looking from in front of the gate into the rill where it’ll have move water and is protected.
  • I moved a weed to be with the other weeds.
  • Continue on along the path. Text anything interesting you see along the way. You will pass lots of yellow wildflowers (mostly goldenrod and tansy) and a dead crow, as well as another community garden and hops vines for making beer with.
  • A pinetree
  • A chestnut tree
  • A guy spraying his bike with bright colours
  • Red berries bush
  • A 100m run track
  • Home made skate boarding park – very pleasing contours
  • And we are still finding blackberries
  • We found also wheat and thistles and reeds all together, very strange mix
  • Wild blackberries!
  • Some nice grapevines
  • Oh a big rat
  • A half-eaten melon
  • Tansy with a white snail on it
  • A dead bird that has been feasted on
  • I never noticed the variety of weeds here
  • Strange men seem to lurk everywhere
  • A lot of difference colours from the flowers, yellow, white, pink, lilac
  • A butterfly, orange!
  • Apple tree in the community garden. And sage!
  • Ribbons on a fence
  • The berry bushes are huge!
  • Shoes on stairs
  • There are some interesting people here, said hi to me
  • Many skaters here
  • We are passing the bmx trail and some drug dealers are hiding behind the trees
  • I found the giant poo!
  • I see crushed bushes, graffitied plants, shiny green flies, a guy sleeping in the bushes, a big apple tree, lots of strange human dwellers
  • A toilet seat and a bath tub, remnants of a ghetto fireplace, more and more toilet paper…
  • A fucking pine! A lonely, tiny pine. The biggest blackberry thorn bush i’ve ever seen
    I have a few scratches now from the thorns
  • I met three guys who said they themselves are some real nice blossoms that can be appreciated. They are sitting here, hanging out, enjoying themselves.
  • Someone just sold some drugs in the bushes…
  • And I saw a plant that I like a lot. Don’t know the name though. The seeds are hidden in a soft and puffy ball.
  • There is a large bushy tree with silver leaves. It almost looks like it has been transplanted from a winters scene.
  • There is a rat running around. Small and brown.
  • Lots of blackberries for hungry clubbers back here
  • Saw a rat!
  • Berries!
  • So many berghain zombies chewing their own faces off
  • On the way we saw wild berries, banana peels, electrical trash, sunflower and other flowers, drunken brits, a while load of stinky shit, just passed the homeless he is still sleeping, his cake waiting for him to wake up.
  • Continue on until you see a set of concrete steps going up to the left. Head up the steps and cross the street diagonally to the right, aiming for the island of landscaped plants with the boxy seats.
  • Take out and scatter some of your bread on the ground (eat some too if you want!). Is there anything nearby that might enjoy it?
  • Yesterday I saw a sparrow fly off with a piece of bread bigger than its head but now they don’t want to know.
  • I hear grillen.
  • 2 big dogs.
  • I guess there are rats nearby, but gladly I can’t see them. And people of course that might enjoy it.
  • The crow.
  • There is a person, but she looks busy with her phone and kindle.
  • There are just some tourists and they don’t look hungry. We eat them ourselves.
  • Nothing. And they would have to have big puppy eyes to get a biscuit.
  • Maybe mice and birds.
  • I scared the housefly away by throwing a crumb at it.
  • A housefly? A dog? I hear sparrows but they are all hiding somewhere!
  • We gave the bread to a homeless man earlier on in the tour already.
  • There was a little bird but it got scared of me and flew away.
  • There were crows around before. And a bunch of sparrows.
  • Afraid not, it seems quite chill on the bug and bird front. I’ve always wondered how the birds can just see a piece of friend flying and immediately identify it as food.
  • Wasps that come and eat the bread maybe? Or there was a crow around a while ago.
  • There are a few bees and butterflies, but not really anything bigger. A couple of pigeons flew past but didn’t stop.
  • Not at present, maybe some passers by. Some bird-life in the other direction, they should find it soon enough.
  • Oh Mr Crow loves it.
  • Strays was a tour of a small section of urban Berlin held in August 2014 as part of B-tour Festival
  • many thanks to participants:
  • peter denison
  • alberto palandri and friends
  • alisa oleva and debbie kent
  • shelley etkin
  • leona zylberberg
  • debbie ding
  • winnona lüdemann and friend
  • basia filipek
  • mario campos
  • nina irina witkiewicz

  • david owens
  • gwendolyn sebald
  • gabriel hensche
  • tessa zettel and friend
  • christiane kretschmer
  • max staub
  • martina baltkalne
  • annika stadler and friend
  • kaspar wimberley
  • skadi möbius
  • and to b-tour festival – www.b-tour.org
  • contact: meldeerson(at)gmail.com