Thursday, November 13, 2014

Travel Report - Rhine River Valley, Pumpkin Sculptures, Elvis Presley, Red Squirrel Sighting, Steep Vineyards and Sheep

From eastern Germany, we traveled south and west along the Rhine River on our way to the Netherlands. Here are some natural and horticultural photos from along the journey:

You might think of Germany as being the Land of Beer, but the Rhine is all about Wine!
In many places - as here in the town of Bacharach - you'll see steep hillsides blanketed with vineyards.
Just climbing this hill seems like it would be a challenge, never mind planting, tending and harvesting the grapes!
Here and there, you see sheep on the hillsides...   :)

The town of Ludwigsburg, Germany claims to have the World's Largest Pumpkin Festival. Typically, more than 400,000 pumpkins are pressed into service to make larger-than-life sculptures.
Here two medieval pumpkin knights on horseback prepare to joust before a royal audience (and a cafeteria).

Some of the pumpkin kings are of the playing card variety...
(although wouldn't Jack say he was the real Pumpkin King?)

And then there's the King of Rock and Roll!

Have you ever seen such a conical tree?!
And with a statue sheltering beneath it like an umbrella?
This is not my taste at all, but I had to admire the moxie of the designer and/or pruner in this palace garden in Wurzburg, Germany.

Grey squirrels are super common in the States.
In fact, my mother used to get her exercise chasing squirrels off our back porch. (They were always trying to steal from the birdfeeders.)
But if you want to see a Red Squirrel, you have to head to Europe.
And even then, you better keep your eyes open, because the red squirrel seems much more shy, elusive and rare than its grey North American counterpart.
Here was my best attempt at snapping a pic of a red squirrel in a Wurzburg garden.
Now I know how those photographers feel when they try to convince people that their photos really do depict Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.
Honestly folks, that blur is a red squirrel!
(Incidentally, Germans apparently cannot say the word "squirrel".)

Beautiful vista from this formal hilltop garden in Wurzburg, Germany
And on that exposed hilltop garden was a palm tree!
(The palm was surrounded by a very nice patch of Sweet Alyssum.)
I'm no expert, but I think this could be a Chinese Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei).
What do you think?

Finally, a field of orange flowers (poppies? marigolds?) makes a delightful carpet leading up to this Wurzburg palace.