A colourful, blooming perennial bed in the centre, yellow-painted benches to sit on, neat hedges and a well-tended lawn in the oval shape – plus two large oak trees as a souvenir: one for Peter Josef Lenné and one for Gustav Meyer. With the “Lenné-Meyer-Garten” on the Werneuchener Wiese on the edge of the Volkspark Friedrichshain, the two great horticultural artists of the 19th century are now honored in an appropriate way. To be correct, it must be added that at this point it is already the second attempt to commemorate the inventors of the Berlin Volksparks. Because Lenné and his student Meyer, who was Berlin’s first director of horticulture, were commemorated at the same place in 1995 with the oak trees and the commemorative plaques in a designed facility. But during Berlin’s unfortunate austerity periods, the complex fell into complete disrepair due to a lack of care – grass literally grew over the memory. According to local resident Carsten Meyer, he often walked carelessly across the site until he stumbled over the overgrown memorial stone. That was in 2018, remembers the former teacher from Bötzowkiez. “A place of honor became a place of dishonor, a mark of shame,” says Meyer. The founder of the Garden Initiative Arnswalder Platz thought it was disrespectful and unworthy how the memory of the personalities so important for Berlin’s urban development was being treated. The active initiative has been taking care of the beautification of the listed square with the distinctive bull fountain with constant work assignments since 2012.
Carsten Meyer is a stubborn man. It is thanks to this persistence and the voluntary work of many people from the Bötzowkiez, the garden initiative and the association ProKiez Bötzowviertel that the opening of the new facility could be celebrated on June 9th. The design of the memorial cost around 400,000 euros. Former MP Tino Schopf (SPD), State Secretary in the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Businesses since the end of 2021, fought for the funds from the state budget. And committed employees from the Pankow district office also helped out. For Christoph Meyer, a good example of what a committed civil society and a cooperative administration can achieve together. The information steles in the “Lenné-Meyer-Garten” are also the starting point for a digital tour of the Volkspark Friedrichshain, which was inspired by Lenné and planned by Meyer, via smartphone. The garden should also become a place of learning about public greenery in Berlin, hope for committed people.
“Nothing thrives without care”, Carsten Meyer quoted a motto of the horticultural artist Lenné as a reminder and obligation at the ceremony for the new plant. Meyer and the various initiatives from the neighborhood wish respect not only for Lenné, but also for the existing nature. For Meyer, the opening was therefore a “joyful day”, but also a sweet and bitter affair. Because he and the initiatives from the neighborhood have been fighting for some time to save the Eschenallee on the historic Werneuchener Wiese, which is right next to the memorial site. In April 1945, the 48 residential buildings with 1,600 apartments built in the 19th century were blown up by the SS in order to get a clear field of fire for the advancing Red Army. Since then, the area has been undeveloped, but is currently to be used as a temporary school location. The 26 healthy ash trees, planted there around 30 years ago, are now to be felled according to the will of the Environment Councilor Manuela Anders-Granitzki (CDU): To protect the school children. Allegedly they are not stable enough because of the rubble underneath. “Don’t fall the ash trees,” Carsten Meyer urged the city councilor present in his speech. He and the committed people from the neighborhood are still hoping that the felling will be avoided. There will be no lack of Meyer’s tenacity.