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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Autotuin—Gardening on Wheels

Thanks to Aaron’s Home & Garden blog for this tipoff.


Florrie de Pater’s car garden, Amsterdam

Photo: Peter Kaas’ weblog

“Gardeners, start your engines!”

Only the Dutch could conceive of such an inspired horror, a mongrel of the natural and mechanical coming soon, we can only hope, to thoroughfares near us all. Autotuin is Dutch for car garden.

“A city like Amsterdam is stuffed with parked cars. Which makes it a bad place to be. The car garden offers people the possibility to refurnish one of those many public parking places in a different way. With a garden, for example. But a chicken run is possible as well….” Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

It seems in October 1999 “Fokke van Katwijk sawed off the roof of his Toyota Corolla, filled the car with one and a half cubic meters of fatty gardening soil,” and established a planter-on-wheels in the Lomanstraat. Florrie de Pater now is the proud owner, and the car garden has toodled on over to “the Willemsparkweg in Amsterdam close to Hotel Zandbergen.”

The intriguing Autotuin site gets my vote for Best of the Web. It explains everything, and we mean EVERYTHING—from parking and auto registration regulations in Amsterdam to the local cost of a junker (130-230 Euros, in 2002). Buses, we are reminded, prove “very handy as a chicken run.” We’re advised about the proper tools for removing a car roof (a “tilted grinding machine”) and the oh-so-pivotal issue of weight.

imageGarden car, Florida

Image: Autotuin

“A car with garden soil quickly comprises a 1500 kilogram extra weight. Most cars ain’t designed for that. A standard nuclear family (two parents, two kids) on a holiday to Marbella weighs not even one third of that.”

This is garden writing! mongrel also in its mix of humor and precise specifications. You can tell the authors really have thought through and executed the making of a car garden and sincerely hope you will too, for their real purpose is a serious one: to reclaim the public space of cities for non-drivers.

Good luck, and good thing you folks are beginning this experiment in Amsterdam. It’s going to take awhile catching on in Houston and Detroit.

Posted by Julie on 03/22 at 04:52 PM
Culture & SocietyGardening & LandscapePermalink