Category Archives: colour garden

rainy days in spain – water in the river of Cervera del Maestre

In march 2015 the rambla of Cervera del Maestre was full of water. After 7 days of rain the soil in the region was unable to support so much liquid. Also the fincas and beds flooded at this time.

One of the important tasks will be, to collect, route, store and guard the water. Also to charge the quality of the water will be a goal.

20150323_115529The rambla de Cervera was flooded and impassable. We could not reach fincas of friends in the mountains.


20150321_132901The entrance of the assecia in our land – a little lake.



The water takes a lot of soil from upper plots. We will gurad it and use it to charge the humus quality in the garden area.


20150323_113955The concept of raised beds (approx 15 cm higher than the ground) is successful. We dont lost soil and humus. The little ways in the garden full of stones hold the water.



This weather phenomenon happens 1-3 times a year but not every year. We expect a more frequent repetition due to a long-term weather forecasting. The old people of the region telling us, that weather changes in an amplitude of 100 years, 50 year more and more dry, 50 years more and more rain. Since 2013 we are in the second part, more rain.

Interesting is, that 30 years ago the last wine cooperative in the region was closed, because it was to dry. Now every year more and more farmes are returning to wine. Following the iths weather phenomenon of 100 years the wine disapperas in the mountains of castellon and returns to the coast. Its time for wine now.



new bed for the dye garden


new bed over carton layer with terra preta

After a dry starting spring we get happy about some rain in the last 2 days. We could accomplshed the new bed just in time (2015-03-20 – sun eclipse).

The bed is prepared on a carton layer. We mixed up local ground, compost and terra preta – selfmade with carbon and organic trash in winter.



the first two colorful caravans in the dye garden of CASAdelDRAGON waiting for the first guests in spring 2015

Around eastern 2015 we will get many visitors and guests. For some of them we have prepared the first two colorful caravans in the garden area. If you want to join this place as artist, volunteer or supporter, apply here.


first aquaponics dye garden project in the world


first aquaponics dye garden project – as part of the UNESCO featurend project – in the world


As part of the educational activities – – the artist residence CASAelDRAGON will start an aquaponic pilot project as part of the dye garden in Cervera del Maestre.

“We combine the advantage of aquaponics and sustainable production of pigments out of plants. Many of them are usefull for the health, comestible and also base of natural pigments. Using solar energy and the excellent mild climate of east-spain, will create another level dye gardening. The project is unique and the first combination of dye gardening with aquaponics in the world. We do social art projects. And we will move the people! (Juan Petry, Founder)”

The social space of UNIIE – the free university of informal education – will offer classes and workshops starting in 2016. Especially for the spanish society aquaponics will stimulate and cultivate a new scope for sustainable business in Europe.

If you want to join the team in spain, you are welcome. Apply here for a residency and develop in 2015 the project with knowledge and power.

Prunus Spinosa and Cydonia Oblonga in the colour garden


medlar, blackthorn and quince in the colour garden of the CASAdelDRAGON – planted in the first days of march 2015

After a long travel some trees from Germany and France arrived in the colour garden. As part of the concept, to combine vegetables in the garden area with different trees, we planted in March 2015 some trees in the first beds (prepared end of 2014).



Nafisa from Zimbabwe prepared some vegetables (peas – a donation of Karen and Jens from the garden unit of familiafeliz in Germany)

One of the first helpers in spring was Nafisa from Zimbabwe. The english teacher, glass artist and worldwide traveler joined the colour garden project for some days in march.


Raised bed workshop – CASAdelDRAGON

The colour of garden of the artist residence CASAdelDRAGON is – above all social aspects – a place of research. The goal is the utilization of a derelict garden. Different strategies for recovery of soil – quality and fertility – will be experimentally investigated simultaneously.

As part of this research, a raised bed was designed. 20 years ago a big fire devastated large tracts of land (more than 600 ha in the region). There are still many tree trunks (olive, carob, walnut). The partially charred trunks are little rot and not suitable to heat up as firewood. In conjunction with other bio mass (thorny creepers that grew on the fringes of the garden) these woods are a good basis for a raised bed.

raised bed - step 1

raised bed – step 1

In a first step we collected the organic material in a bigger quantity. We applied a trench and laid the excavation of soil aside.

raised bed - step 2

raised bed – step 2

In a third step we filled up the open trench with the bigger pieces of wood.

raised bed - step 3

raised bed – step 3

We continued to fill the gaps between the bigger wood pieces with little organic material.

raised bed - step 4

raised bed – step 4

Then we coated a layer of humus from the Moorish water channel and better soils over the wood.

raised bed - step 5

raised bed – step 5

We placed the organic material on top and filled up the gaps between the layers with bigger pieces of wood.

raised bed - step 6

raised bed – step 6

In the last step we covered the mix of organic material with the soil of the excavation. The little hole in front of the raised bed will be used as a window to monitor the condition of the wood inside.

The raised bed offer zones with different moisture levels. The top of the bed is more dry, at the edge of the bed it is more damp. The wood will store the rain water and this water is very very slowly submitted to its surroundings. The organic stuffing is working like a giant sponge which release large amounts of moisture very slowly to the bed and the plants.

At the same time stuffing provides useful tools (fungi, insects) in an interesting area of settlement. The material will decay slowly over years and gives the garden a large amount of humus.

We placed different plants in different areas of the raised bed and we will document in the future condition and evolution of this strategy.


Francesc Urgell Montane talks about the colour garden of CASAdelDRAGON

The Catalan activist and friend Francesc Urgell Montane talks about the dye and colour garden project of CASAdelDRAGON and invites creatives to join the project and to develop a second location of the colour garden in Cataluña.

On 31 December 2014 (afternoon and night) we celebrate the the new year with some creative friends in the colour garden of the artist residence in Spain. If you like to join this event please post it to jp / at / or on the facebook – page of the CASAdelDRAGON.


New plants for the colour garden – cultivation and planting

CASAdelDRAGON - colour garden - cultivaction and planting - part 1

CASAdelDRAGON – colour garden – cultivation and planting – part 1

The aim of the colour garden is to cultivate plants – among other things – for illustrative purposes, for use in workshops and trainings and for exchange with other gardens. We use a mixture of good seed compost and local soil (in the ratio 1: 3) as well as wood ash and pieces of charred wood. Until the greenhouse will be finished, we use simple egg carton and a glass box.

The egg carton is cut to the size of the box. The mixed sowing soil is filled up to the ridge between the planting slots.

CASAdelDRAGON - colour garden - cultivaction and planting - part 2

CASAdelDRAGON – colour garden – cultivation and planting – part 2

The green bowl of the glass box is filled with rain water, the egg carton with the soil is placed inside. Then the planting holes are set. The different planting depths of seeds have to be taken in consideration.

CASAdelDRAGON - colour garden - cultivaction and planting - part 3

CASAdelDRAGON – colour garden – cultivation and planting – part 3

The small plants are distributed on the bed and it is mulched with straw or dried grass.

The advantage of the egg carton is easy handling. The plants do not have to be separated and transportation is easy. The box can also be planted at the destination, result: no shock of transplanting for the plants. Weaker plants (e.g. lettuce) should be planted with modified carton boxes. The basement of each slot is opened a little with a cutter before filled with soil.

Medieval Moorish water channel of the dye garden

arab water channel - before | after

Arab water channel – before | after

The colour garden of the artist residence CASAdelDRAGON is located in the district of Cervera del Maestre (Castellon, Spain). The village with the castle on top of the hill was under Iberic, Roman, Moorish and Catalan influence and is full of medieval monuments and historic places.

The colour garden is connected to a Roman water channel system, developed and optimized by the Moors in the time of their occupation in Southern Europe. Therefore it is also connected to a wide and great history – of Spain in detail and Europe in general – including the influence of Arabian knowledge, technology and culture.

The left photo shows the original situation in winter 2013, the photo on the right shows the current process of rebuilding the channel. We would like to say thanks to Sonia, Anna-Maria, Katharina, Sarah and all the other wwoofers who started to rebuild this ancient water pipeline.

The wild land of the garden and even the medieval channel were abandoned over years. The water broke out of the channel. The soil erosion was supported by roots of trees that had seeded themselves.

European history would be incomplete if we neglected the long experience of Arab and Islamic influence in Spain and Southern France: a lot of knowledge about architecture, art, culture and science in general.

The impressive water management for gardening contributed to a flourishing of agriculture  in Spain, and thus to a significant growth of the Spanish population. Imagine that there lived so many people in the country at that time, that, after the expulsion of the Moors, Spain needed more than 550 years to reach the same population again.

Imagine too, that the Arab influence had a stable period of more than 780 years, it is like being ruled by one administration from Dschingis Khan to Putin…

Especially in these times of conficts between the Middle East and Europe, it might be good to remember the common roots. Spain will play an important role for Europe in the future and will help to ensure a peaceful coexistence.


arab water channel - source

Arab water channel – source

The channel was reponsible for the irrigation of the whole valley (the lightl blue line from the higher level of the valley on the left to the lower level on the right). The colour garden plot – marked green in the map above – is centered at the bottom of the valley. The water channel enters the plot with a lowering surface – marked with a dark blue dot. The water is stored several times  in such basins (as on the right photo) on the way down out of the valley. This helps to reduce the flow rate.

Later the channel will pass the plot in its center and will give access to water in all lower levels of the garden for the future – as it was planned 800 years ago.


arab water channel - source point in the leaf - before cleaning

Arab water channel – source point in the leaf – before cleaning

The garden design is adapted to the water channel and the valley. The beginning of the leaf is also the source of water for the plot. The veins of the leaf transport food and water. The paths in the garden will be used in the same way. We will bring water and compost, and we will take out the gifts of the garden using the same ways.

From nature and fluid mechanics we know, that 45 degree is the best angle for a connection of two channels. So the design copies nature and also gives a symbolic view of the target to synchronize cultural and natural processes to get sustainable results.


arab water channel - after cleaning from plants and trees

Arab water channel – after cleaning from plants and trees

In the European Union 40% of water is consumed by nuclear and conventional power plants. 25% is used by agriculture. If a citizen uses less than 1000 cubic meters per year,  this considered as a good result.

Referring to aquastat database the cultivated area of Spain is less than 40% of the total country area. The main irrigated crops are cereals (36 percent), fruit (23 percent, including citrus and grapes), olives (15 percent) and vegetables (7 percent). Some fodder (temporary and permanent), sugar beet, cotton, sunflower, potatoes, pulses, flowers, tobacco and permanent pastures are also irrigated. Temporary crops are either winter crops (irrigated during dry periods from November to April or May) or summer crops (4 to 6 months from March to October). Permanent crops are assumed to be irrigated almost the whole year, either for water deficit in dry periods or for frost protection in winter/spring.

The Spanish agriculture sector uses more water than the industrial and public sector together. In this light it is one of the main tasks for us to figure out a smart water management system on our plot and optimize the usage.

We need many more helpers to continue the task. At the moment we are happy to clean the distance of one meter per day (1-3 persons) and we have still 100 meters to go. If you are interested in joining the group of helpers apply here.

Theory of the good

theory of the good

theory of the good – first beds in the colour garden of CASAdelDRAGON

After first little interventions at the plot of the colour garden (jardi de colors, laboratori d´artistas) of the artist residence CASAdelDRAGON in summer, we started in November 2014 to arrange the first beds and to develop the ground for the first plants.

One of the big questions was how to start a garden, how to develop a garden that would be at the same time useful, pleasant and accessible for larger numbers of visitors per year. How to arrange spaces for the plants, the workers and also – in respect to nature – how to embed the local environment with its many kinds of wild plants (e.g. old species of Amaranth).

We asked some professional gardeners in Germany and Spain, but there was no real answer, no guideline to start. It seemed to be a very special task to start such a garden and to design it. Maybe some landscape architect would have been useful, but that was not affordable for such a private cultural project. So we went back to research and designed the garden like a leaf.

This structure is based on our knowledge about physics, logistics, art… and life. Make it simple is one of the main rules. We combine best-practice solutions. We used some standards like DIN 18065 to define paths (for cars, for people, for workers with and without wheelbarrows).

The important point was – exactly – the first point. The shape of the leaf is one thing,but in order to transfer this design to the ground, we needed the single anchor, the zero-point, the central landmark.


the first central landmark – CASAdelDRAGON – colour garden

One of my questions to the members of the living community familiafeliz was: what do you think should be the center of the garden? The response was clear and direct. We want a place to come together! My next question was: Do you want to have seats to sit there? The answer was yes. And my last question was: Do to want to face the garden when you sit in that place or the center (and the faces of the others)? The answer was: We want to look into the eyes of the others in this center of the garden of Epicurus! We want to see the happiness in their eyes!

Big thanks to Katharina, Agnes, Guy and Sonia to help measuring the first points and to start the first beds.


Bed covered with cardboard – CASAdelDRAGON

We devided the first part of the bed (parcela no. 1) in three pieces. On two pieces we dug the ground over in the classical way. On the third part we covered the ground with cardboard.


bed framed by natural stones and stocked up with the ground from the left path

The land was not used for more than three years. There are a lot of natural stones everywhere. We collected some of them and we used them to frame the pieces and – in that case – to hold the cardboard. We filledthe bed with the ground material of the little path on the left side of the bed. The idea of the leaf as ground plan adapts to the veins of a leaf on a tree. Each vein is a path between individual beds and spaces throughout the entire garden.


preparing the path for drainage – first habitants on the garden – CASAdelDRAGON

Sometimes it rains a lot in a few hours and the ground cannot cope with so much water. We use our veins for drainage.

We planted some vegetables for later spring (now in Spain is the right time to do this 🙂 …) for the helpers, wwoofers and for us.

If you want to join this place, this project, this spirit, please use our form to apply for a residence in the house of the dragon.


CASAdelDRAGON announce artists for the first land art convent in spain

guided tours to the land art content area every sunday at 10 a.m. (after 01.04.2015)

guided tours to the land art content area every sunday at 10 a.m. (after 01.04.2015)

The artist residence CASAdelDRAGON announces the group of pre-selected artists for the first land art convent in Spain in 2015 (April – July, official opening 18. July 2015 7 p.m.).

OLGAG team | Olga Gruszka and Agnieszka Żerdecka (NL/POL)
Björn Göttlicher (GER/CAT)
Ninette Koning (NL)
Berta Esteve (CAT)
Wolfgang Strecker (GER)
Nonato Cruz (BRA)
Martina Clasen (GER)
Irene Anton (GER)
Ryszard Litwiniuk (CAN)

The target is to define contemporary land art! What is the international artistic response in times of cyber wars, bank crisis and Euro speculation? How does the discussion about chemtrails and fracking influences artists? How do they think and react facing the population shift from rural to urban areas and the ways in which society adapts to the change?

Links: Land Art Convent 2015 |