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Tiptoe Through the Tulips -- A Walk through the Garden Show in Hamburg

I love flowers. Andrew the Whale Whisperer has always told me I take too many pictures of flowers, so why does he ask, "Do you have your camera?" as we're setting out for the Garden show in Hamburg? Of course I have my camera.

It's cold and almost raining. We have our umbrellas just in case, so of course it doesn't rain the whole time we're at the garden show--or, as I would like to call it right now, The Tuliparama. Tulips. Tulips. Tulips and more tulips.







And finally . . .


I know spring is still in the air and that the Tuliparama will transform into something rosier, maybe even petunia-ier. I know there will be other flowers. In fact, I know almost all of the tulips above have gone to Tulip Heaven and that hundreds of gardeners are probably digging up those tulip bulbs right now--some of them were looking kind of ragged already--and getting the beds ready for something else.

The grounds of the garden show are reasonably large, but we managed to walk the complete circuit in under three hours. I expected it to be larger, more impressive, grander. I did not expect all these tulips. Don't get me wrong: I like tulips. The tulip overload, though, came across as unimaginative. Monofloral?

Andrew the Whale Whisperer and I kept having conversations with themes like 'How Hamburg could have done this better' or 'Why charge 7.50 to ride the monorail? What's up with that?' The train that runs through the park is lovely, but the park isn't large enough for you to ride it unless you're not very mobile or fit. We talked about the potential of the grounds, like 'What could go in this area once all these fricking tulips are gone.' In general, the grounds seemed a bit neglected in places; other places gave me the impression that they weren't quite finished yet. This bed, however, looked quite finished:

There is an area devoted to the five major world religions with a fountain in the center complete with five spouts and five waterfalls. It's also complete with scum and really really dirty water swirling down a partially clogged drain. I'm not sure whether this is a conscious statement on religion or not. I hope not, but it's hard not to wonder why someone doesn't clean up the semiotics. The space devoted to Islam looked as if the Muslim delegation had not arrived yet. The beds were empty squares of dirt. Was this intentional? Are flowers a no-no in Islam? And if so, how to get around this at a garden show?

The space devoted to Islam in the Religious Gardens exhibit

The park is more of an amusement park for the whole family. There are lots of activities for kids--skateboarding, zip lines through the trees, a climbing wall--and lots of stages with music and presentations; and none of this seems to have anything to do with, well, gardens or flowers.But then of course there are tulips--well, there won't be tulips when you go. But there will be this attraction of stone stacking, probably meant to symbolize what tulips look like once their petals fall off?

I stacked those two in the foreground. So talented.

I hope there will be more variety, that the grounds will be better taken care of, that you will have lots more sun.

To continue with I Must Be Off! A-Z, go to I is for Italy.

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's award-winning fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine, The Best of Every Day Ficton, Pure Slush, Bootsnall Travel and Chicken Soup for the Soul. A finalist at Glimmer Train in 2011, Allen has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize twice. He is the managing editor of the daily litzine Metazen. Recently, Allen--along with editors Michelle Elvy and Linda Simoni-Wastila--hosted Flash Mob 2013 in celebration of International Flash Fiction Day.

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