By Leslie Brians, USAG Schweinfurt Public AffairsAugust 14, 2013
SCHWEINFURT, Germany (Aug. 14, 2013) -- "Blumen selbst schneiden." The signs stand tall in front of rows of colorful flowers, beckoning you to pull off the road and cut your own vibrant bouquet. With the recent closure of Kate's Flower Shop at Ledward Barracks, you may be wondering how you can add some color to your home. These self-service flower fields are a simple, inexpensive and fun way to experience something uniquely German.
If you're like a number of Americans living in Germany, you may be intimidated by the etiquette of exactly how you can cut your own bouquet. This can seem especially daunting considering there is no tenant manning the stand to help walk you through the process. But do not worry!
German blumen stands run on an honor system: If you pick flowers, you are expected to make a donation to the farmer who planted them.
Upon arrival to the flower patch, you may be greeted by a sign stating the types of flowers available for picking, flower care instructions, and the suggested donation price.
A small box near these signs, labeled "Kasse" is where you will place your donation after you've cut your fresh blooms.
The farmer who planted the flowers will usually leave a few small kitchen knives for your convenience. Grab a knife and go on your way. You can pick as many flowers as you like, as long as you drop your appropriate donation before you leave.
Here are some tips provided by the flower planters to make your bounty last as long as possible:
Sunflower (Sonnenblumen) Tip: Give a few drops of detergent into the water so that the sunflowers last longer.
Gladiola Tips: Gladioli can be cut when color of the flower appears on the lower buds. Already blooming gladioli last a very long time in the vase. You can cut the stem at the bottom.
Lilly Tips: Lilies can be cut when one recognizes the color of the largest flower bud. When picking, leave a portion of the stem so that sufficient nutrients are stored in the bulb. Note: The pollen of the lily is very intense in color and leaves behind stains on clothing or tablecloths. Removing the pollen as soon as the bloom opens will prevent staining and make your bloom last longer.
And as the summer starts to fade and the temperatures drop, many of these flower stands convert to selling fall vegetables, with pumpkins and gourds taking place of lilies and gladiolas. The honor system is the same during the fall season.
So always make sure you carry a few extra euros with you on your next road trip. You never know when you'll be beckoned by flower field.