The Parks

I’ve been surprised to find that many of the parks here are so overgrown. Like many aspects of life here, they don’t correspond at all to the stereotypes of Germany we hold in the States – orderly, uptight, exacting. That stereotype of loving flowers and herbs, though? That one’s true.

Here’s some raggedy old St. John’s Wort in the park down the street, perforations visible, with one of the ubiquitous wasps that have taken over the entire city this summer.

In my 19 years living in Austin I developed a deep affection for the flora of Central Texas, there’s no doubt about it. There are so many wonderful medicinals, including some all-stars, like passionflower,  purslane and cactus. Here, though, I spot the classics of the Northern European herbal tradition growing casually in lawns and cracks in the sidewalk. Just in the park by my house I saw wild nettles, red clover, yarrow, mallows, yellow dock, willow, oak, pine, tree of heaven, enormous rosehips, plantain, dandelion, burdock, st john’s wort, linden, sweet gum and probably more I can’t remember or don’t know yet. I grew up in Connecticut, where it is hard for people to imagine getting excited about red clover, plantain, dandelion or especially burdock. But those of you who harvest wild herbs in Texas will understand what a thrill it is for me to see them thriving, untended.

Nettles! I get a little thrill walking by these tumbling mounds spilling
onto sidewalks. Even though they are clearly in the dog piss zone, I
can’t resist nibbling on a carefully folded nettle leaf now and again as
I stroll. Because I can!

Calendula in the sidewalk

It’s my personal policy to always stop and smell the roses. And
this one, by the beer garden in a city park, is the sweetest, most
delicious I have ever had the pleasure to encounter.

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