Hortus Insectorum: A garden for insects

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Do you remember how it was 15, 20 years ago when you parked your car after a long drive? "Asks Markus Gastl. "My dad used to scold because he had to wipe an armada off the window of shattered insects, and today?" Rarely do motorists use the buckets of wipers waiting at gas stations, simply because there are hardly any insects sticking to the windshield so-called airplankton has reduced by 80 percent over the past two decades. "

The Franke loves such descriptive examples and descriptions in order to sensitize the people for ecological connections. He likes to pass on his expertise in lectures and guided tours through his 7,500 square meter insect garden, the "Hortus Insectorum". He is also keen to build a Hortus network across the country so insects and other animals find "stepping stones" that will enable them to survive in this hostile world.

Markus Gastl with a show insect hotel

Markus Gastl with his show insect hotel

A bicycle tour through America, more specifically, the crossing from the tip of South America to Alaska, let the former geography students experience the beauty and fragility of nature up close. When he arrived after two and a half years, he gave himself the promise to create in his home a garden in which rare plants and animals would find a habitat. A yard for sale with grass and grazing land in Beyerberg in central Franconia provided the suitable area.

Attract insects to the garden

To drain the soil, Markus Gastl had the top soil removed and sowed wildflowers: "On well-fertilized soil, most wildflowers have no chance, as they are quickly displaced by the strongly growing, nutrient-loving species." His calculation worked out and soon a variety of insects were set up, which depend on certain plant species. And with them came the bigger animals that feed on insects.

stone pyramids

Stone pyramids create habitat and symbolize for the gardener important concepts such as forgiveness, reparation, love and laughter. 35 1/2 are because Markus Gastl was so old when he decided to build a garden

"In nature, everything is connected, it is important that we learn to understand the ecological cycles," is his demand. When he discovered the first tree frog at the pond, he rejoiced unruly, because the only frog species in Central Europe with adhesive discs on the ends of the fingers and toes is on the Red List. Over the years, the knowledge and experience of the gardener grew, and he developed the three-zone system, which ensures an ecological interaction of garden areas.

Even on the smallest of areas, this system can be implemented, even on a balcony. If you want to read the topic, we recommend the book "Drei Zonen Garten". "For the insect every flowering is important," emphasizes Markus Gastl and so he advertises on his website hortus-insectorum.de for fellow combatants.

Wild tulips

Adderhead in front of a shepherd's cart

Wild tulips (left) are very frugal. They thrive magnificently on the lean, calcareous soil in the hotspot zone. Adder's Head (Echium vulgare) forms a blue island in front of the shepherd's wagon (right)

The three different zones at a glance

Overview of the zones

On the drawing, the three zones are clearly visible

The three zones at a glance

1. The buffer zone surrounds the garden and separates it from the surrounding fields by a hedge of native shrubs. The shrub leaves the natural gardener in this area, so insects, hedgehogs and birds find shelter.


The pyramid path indicates the transition from the buffer to the hotspot zone. Rice piles, sand hills and deadwood trunks provide shelter for many insects, birds and mammals

2. The Hotspotzone is characterized by rock garden plants and a deliberately lean soil. Here a large variety of plants can thrive, attracting many insects and animals. Once a year, mowing and removing the crop.

3. The yield zone connects directly to the house and is thus quickly accessible. The soil of the vegetable and herb beds is fertilized with compost and the crop from the hotspot zone. In addition, berry bushes grow here.

Gossip poppy

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Hortus Insectorum: A garden for insects: insectorum

Hortus Insectorum: A garden for insects: insects

Hortus Insectorum: A garden for insects: garden


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Hortus insectctorum

Hortus Insectorum: A garden for insects: hortus

Gossip poppy and Kugelköpfiger leek like dry, sunny places

Hortus Insectorum: A garden for insects: insects

The ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), here with an imperial coat, is the food plant of various butterfly caterpillars

Hortus Insectorum: A garden for insects: garden

The musk-buck makes station on a wild carrot (Daucus carota), which is the main source of pollen for sand bees

Hortus Insectorum: A garden for insects: hortus

The flower nectar of leeks is very popular with hoverfly and small fritillary

Hortus Insectorum: A garden for insects: insects

The wild bee hotel was built by Markus together with his partner in the Hortus Felix, a neighboring garden

Gossip poppy

Crimson herb with an imperial coat


Hoverfly and mother-of-pearl butterfly on a leek bloom

Big wild bee hotel

Video Board: Wallflower by Maria Linnemann / Pictures: Hortus Insectorum.

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