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.
Illustration: Watercolor and gouache, “Bodensee” approx. 12″ x 16″ on Hahnemuehle watercolor paper by Black Elephant Blog author (2017)
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.
Illustration: On-site sketch in small Stillman & Birn “Zeta” sketchbook by Black Elephant Blog author (2017)
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 environmental–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.