Uwe Vandieken’s Garden
I had heard so much about and I could not believe my eyes when I realised the extent of it
By Margaret SHEARD
Uwe Vandieken is German and an active member of The Foreign Residents in the TRNC. There have been many occasions when Uwe has invited members of TFR and friends to join him at his house and garden for a picnic and up until now there has always been a prior commitment which has resulted in not being able to accept. Uwe has decided to move away later in the year so on 2nd September he held his last “garden party” and I was determined not to miss this one.
My partner, Chris, and I made up our picnic hamper and met up with Horst Gutowski in Lapta so that he could escort us to Uwe’s house (we would never have found it with just directions). We travelled way up towards the mountains and eventually arrived to find a large number of people already there seated in various areas of the garden adjacent to the house.
I decided to have a walkabout and have a look at the garden I had heard so much about and I could not believe my eyes when I realised the extent of it. There are paths meandering here, there and everywhere, the garden just went on and on, with walls and terraces and every now and again pieces of art made from all manner of items most people would just throw away. There was a wall made out of empty bottles, there must have been hundreds of them and then I found another wall of alcoves with old DIY tools which was very impressive. Uwe told me that these had been shipped from Germany when he left, and as he didn’t really mean them to come to North Cyprus he found another use for them. Nothing is wasted or thrown away. I had started off with Uwe showing me around and by the time we had finished there was a whole group of people who had joined the tour. I was fascinated with the figures which had been made out of all sorts of discarded items and Uwe said that whenever he had visitors he gave them a box of “bits” and told them to create something, the results are amazing.
Uwe was born in Bavaria and then lived in Hanover where he had a bookshop, he came to North Cyprus for the first time in 1988 for a holiday and continued to visit until 1993 when he and his partner, Werner, moved to North Cyprus and rented the present house from the State. The original house on the site burnt down and collapsed prior to 1974. It was re-built so when Uwe and Werner moved there in 1993 it was a new house but the garden was a complete wilderness and they set about restoring it. All of the paths and the walls etc. were lovingly built by them in such a way that they look as if they have been there for centuries. Sadly in 1998, while Uwe was attending his mother’s funeral in Germany, his partner Werner died which was devastating for Uwe after 26 years together. Uwe then put all of his efforts into the garden to continue the work they had started together. In 2001, for personal reasons, Uwe married an American widow with 4 children, 2 of which he has since legally adopted.
As the house and extensive garden are now becoming very time-consuming and Uwe is not getting any younger, he has decided to move away towards the end of the year and will be looking for somewhere in Istanbul where he can enjoy all of the culture and history there on his doorstep.
I am sure that Uwe will miss his garden and the many friends he has made but time moves on and he is about to embark on another new life. I know that all of Uwe’s friends and many acquaintances will wish him well for the future and no doubt we will see him from time to time when he visits North Cyprus to catch up. I am so pleased that I finally managed to see Uwe’s garden and can only but marvel at all of the hard work he and Werner put into it.
Uwe’s garden is so fascinating that I couldn’t resist making a slide show of the many other photographs we had taken.