BROCHURES, LETTER CARDS, SEEDS AND OTHER GIFTS
During the Maria Sibylla Merian international commemorative year in 2017, 300 years after her death, a number of small but fine exhibitions and interesting lectures were also held in Nuremberg. Other visible reminders of her years in Nuremberg are the Maria Sibylla Merian Garden at the Imperial Castle (since 2013) and a plaque on the façade of the Graff-Meriann family home at Bergstraße 10. However, the potential of this artist as a naturalist and "first ecologist" for the present and future was only rudimentarily appreciated/recognized? in 2017.
During city walks to the sites where Merian worked in Nuremberg, the participants are always very interested in the biodiversity of insects in her time, the dependence of caterpillars on their food plants and the importance of nectar plants as nourishment for the hatched insects. Time and again, stories about butterflies in our own gardens or even on balconies make the rounds and experiences with particularly insect-friendly plants are exchanged. We quickly realised that a "Merianin 2018+" initiative against the current insect mortality in Nuremberg would fall on fertile ground, and also that intensive public relations work is the most important prerequisite/condition for any success.
On the one hand, we collect information and distribute it free of charge as printed material. On the other hand, we want to win allies with our small gifts. Alllies, who pass on our brochures, send our art cards with greetings to friends and label insect-friendly plantings in their gardens with signs as "MERIANIN BEET" (Merian-Bed) or even as "MERIANIN WIESE" (Merian-meadow/field in the case of larger areas).
Garden leaflet: Inside the folded card. To look at the outside of the card with Merian's portrait (1679) and the title copy of the Second Caterpillar Book, please click into the picture and scroll down on the screen.
We first noticed the lack of information during visits to the Maria-Sibylla-Merian-Garden. Again and again, annoyance was expressed about the limited opening hours of the garden at the Imperial Castle on Sunday and Monday afternoons from April through the end of October followed by closure in winter times: "Whenever we climb the steep castle hill, we find ourselves in front of the closed garden gate and by the next time we have yet again forgotten the opening hours on the board outside of the garden wall."
Explanations about how the garden must be cared for, that it needs rest intervals and must always be guarded so that bouquets of flowers are not picked, calm the minds, but the best "consolation" is the information about the garden with Merian’s portrait and one of her beautiful flower wreaths on a mini folding card that fits in every wallet. It is widely appreciated as a pleasant reminder of a visit to the garden and is passed on as a gift. To date we have distributed many hundreds of these cards.
NEW HABITAT FOR INSECTS
Our starting point and the first steps of our initiative are presented in a brochure, of which we had already printed 5,000 copies at the beginning of 2018. In nine chapters, we explain Merian's relevance, give some best practice examples and tips for insect-friendly plantings, point out the Merian Garden at the Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg Nürnberg) as an example and make suggestions for how to get involved. Even at this early stage, we were able to present three projects supported by a substantial grant from the local savings bank (Sparkasse Nürnberg). Please inform yourself and browse through the illustrated brochure.
The first 5,000 booklets were quickly sold out, we again found sponsors and a year later were able to print another 10,000 copies. We distributed them free of charge in many places and found so many interested people who gave them away to their own circle of friends that the remaining stock will only last till spring 2021, when – hopefully after the end of the Corona pandemic – events can take place again.
FOR PARTICULARLY INSECT-FRIENDLY MEADOWS/FIELDS, BALCONIES AND FLOWER BEDS
Merian also helps to get rid of misunderstandings and to overcome prejudices against supposedly poorly maintained areas. Flower-rich meadows may not look as "tidy" as a carefully tended lawn, but our Merian signs mark them as valuable habitats for insects and as oases of biodiversity.
Sign Merian Meadow
(Original size: 22x30 cm)
You have started to transform a lawn in your garden into a flower meadow and don't want to let doubts arise that an insect paradise will be created here? Our SIGN: “MERIANIN WIESE” clearly shows your neighbours and guests what is to become of this area. Merian is an effective ally should you be blamed for inadequate care of your garden, and looking at the sign will open up new topics of conversation. In the years to come, the weatherproof sign in the midst of the new floral splendour with buzzing insects will be an attractive proof of your affinity with the great artist and naturalist who lived in Nuremberg so long ago.
Sign Merian Insect Oasis
(Original size: 7,6×10,5 cm)
You "only" have a balcony with flower boxes and need a small sign? Especially at close glance, many unfilled, insect-friendly flowers are a feast for the eyes. Kitchen herbs not only enrich your own cooking recipes, they are also popular with insects as nursery, leaf food for caterpillars and source of nectar. Such small insect oases alone will never enable some species to recover. This is why we must strive for networks with neighbouring public spaces, so that you can "release" caterpillars onto suitable host plants if Merian’s “Thierlein” ("little animals") find your balcony plants too tasty. Additional visits by butterflies compensate for minor collateral damage.
Sign Merian Bed
(Original size: 22x30 cm)
This sign is suitable for smaller blossoming areas not only in private (front) gardens and school gardens, but also for entrance areas to kindergartens, housing estates, company premises, hospitals. Please contact the person responsible for the outdoor area of the respective institution! In the case of company grounds, works councils can also be helpful supporters in addition to the company management. Children are easily enthused about species protection and senior citizens are reminded of times gone by. We often see them starting bright-eyed conversations with other passers-by in front of the daisies, poppies and cornflowers in the flowering area of the Kontumaz garden next to the Hallerwiese residential home in Nuremberg.
We have already been able to purchase signs with three different light- and weatherproof inscriptions from a specialist firm. They are attached to sticks and can easily be stuck into the ground. We want to use them for awarding prizes to particularly attractive flowering areas Due to Corona this project is postponed until 2022. We are already giving away free mini signs "MERIANIN INSEKTEN OASE" in postcard size. For only 31 € you can buy a sign "MERIANIN BEET" or "MERIANIN WIESE" for your garden at the BUND Naturschutz shop and office in Endterstraße 14. Perhaps you are looking for a suitable (birthday or Christmas) gift for hobby gardeners in your personal radius?
FOR PERSONAL GREETINGS OR GOOD WISHES
Communication between advocates of more biodiversity and tools to help these multipliers are essential parts of the MERIAN 2018+ strategy. This should not only take place on site, i.e. in one's own garden or balcony, but also via the traditional postal path: That is why we offer two very different letter cards with colour-matching envelopes to send - via "snail mail" – with personal greetings or congratulations. We have deliberately chosen very different motifs.
Inside of the folded letter card with historical copper print of a brewer’s roof garden in Nuremberg (around 1680). To view the outside of this card with explanations of this copperplate print, please click into the image and scroll down the screen.
The copperplate print showing the roof garden of a beer brewer from the period when Merian lived in Nuremberg is a surprise even for experts, although It has long been known in these circles that Baroque gardens in Nuremberg were an important status symbol not only for the upper class but also for the upper middle class. Probably no other German city at the time had so many lovingly tended private gardens.
However, the depiction on the inside of the card shows that previous assumptions about the densely built-up old town, stuffy in summer and lacking green oases, have to be revised. If you look closely on the historical maps of the city, you can see many trees in backyards and Johann Andreas Graff shows house façades with flower pots in front of the windows. However, the copperplate print on our map with its roof garden and at least 66 pots or old beer kegs is so sensational that we have printed it with additional information about the property and with the transcription of the poem - proof of the astonishing level of cultural education of some Nuremberg craftsmen!
Despite all this information, we have left space on the outer front page for personal greetings or good wishes. We offer this card for free together with a matching green envelope and hope you will send the card to people interested in this special Nuremberg topic.
The art print on our second letter card is not only 300 years younger, it is also completely different in terms of subject: Here, an internationally renowned artist, Michael Mathias Prechtl, who worked in Nuremberg for decades, depicts Merian's personality without any claim to historical accuracy. His interpretation of the butterfly as a mask with Merian in half-profile as in a paper cutting opens up new perspectives and invites us to think about the artist and naturalist. What do we really know about Merian and what parts of her character remain hidden behind the object of the research to which she dedicated her life? It is indisputable that Merian has remained unforgotten in Nuremberg over the centuries up to the recent past, and that she has always inspired artistic and scientific reflection.
We are very grateful to Prechtl´s widow, Frydl Prechtl-Zuleeg, who supported him as her partner for decades and was a creative artist in her own right, for giving permission to print this portrait for "MERIANIN 2018+" just a few months before her death.
On the inside pages and the back of the letter card there is still plenty of space for your personal messages to the addressees. Even this card is given away for free on request with fine envelopes in yellow or light blue.
Fictitious portrait "Merian" by Michael Mathias Prechtl (1983) on the front of the folded letter card
To enlarge and view the writable inside, please click into the picture.
The Merianin Cake
Our Patroness Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) deserves to be experienced with all the senses. In her masterpiece on the insects of Surinam, created during her extensive trip to Surinam and completed in Amsterdam, she explains the taste of the new fruit "pineapple“ to her contemporary public.
“The taste of this fruit is as if one had combined Grapes, Apricots, Red Currants, Apples and Pears with one another, and then discerns them simultaneously. Its taste is sweet yet strong. When one cuts it open the whole room smells of it.“
Baking the cake
Ingredients for the yeast dough
30 g of yeast for the pre-dough
500 g of flour
250 ml of milk
60 g of sugar
90 g of butter/margarine
vanilla, a pinch of salt
(if desired refine with gingerbread spice and powdered orange peel)
finely chopped fruit of all five mentioned kinds (grapes, apricots, red currants, tart baking apples, pears) sprinkled with a bit of preserving sugar
The cake arrangement
150 g of flour
150 g of sugar
100 g of butter
vanilla, a pinch of salt
(optional: mix with flaked almonds)
Perhaps with fresh pineapple pieces (to preserve longer heat briefly beforehand with preserving sugar)
Make the yeast dough and cover with fruits.
Evenly sprinkle with crumble.
Baking time: 35-45 minutes at 190° C. / 375° F.
If desired finally garnish with pieces of fresh pineapple.
This culinary creation was the inspiration of Margot Lölhöffel. Delicious!
(Easy variation: cover a ready made sponge cake with fresh fruits as mentioned.)
Here you can download the cake recipe as a PDF– also in “ounces” and “cups” to be used for British and American cakes. Enjoy your baking and bon appétit!