From the hilltop on the Island of Mainau in Lake Constance, or the Bodensee, you can see sailboats gliding past, far below and across the lake. Paths crisscross the ornate botanical gardens that drape the hill. A nice breeze makes a walk uphill and then down again to the ferryboat piers quite pleasant. I had tried my hand at some watercolors of this scene, and lately–with news of hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, cyber-hacks and data breaches, and more surrounding us in current events–moved back to trying out some oil paints. It’s a very different process from watercolor but keeps one’s mind on colors for the moment. Also the palette knife, which the watercolorist mainly uses to gently peel a slice of watercolor paper out of a watercolor block, finally comes directly in contact with paint, when oil painting. Lots to continue trying out…
Making our way by ferry on Lake Constance, not far from Konstanz, we were able to see the island of Mainau as soon as our ship passed around a small peninsula.
Up ahead on the hilltop of the island, a baroque manor-palace was visible through the tall trees, including palms. Once we disembarked, we found that the whole island was a park, with a few cafes and restaurants. To get to the palace, you must walk up some steep and winding paths, lined with flower beds. Here and there are…banana trees! It can be surprising to see banana trees in this area, but their presence attests to the mild climate of the lake region.
The view from the top makes your effort worthwhile. This island is famous as a botanical garden–the whole island–which is why it also is known as “flower island.” It has many walkways, one of which is a large flower bed designed to show, with plants and flowers, all the towns around the large lake of Constance, or “Bodensee” in German. There also are sculptures and statues in the gardens, about which it has been difficult so far to learn anything. (Despite the tourist crowds, this is a highly protected botanical environment–rightly so–so clearly I did not use watercolor paints in this area but concluded the sketches after the trip. Moreover, as many have noted before me, it can be difficult to fit in a sketch when traveling with even a small group of companions.) From here we soon were headed, again by ferry, to the other side of the lake.