Team of gardeners combats drought

People & stories, 27.04.2020

259 large trees, hundreds of bushes, more than 28,000 square metres of planted areas, 2,700 office plants. Plenty of work for ERGO gardeners at the Düsseldorf location. Even if some things are currently different.

Gärtner bei ERGO in Düsseldorf 

Hans Günter Vieth on his thirst-quenching rounds with the water trolley.

Anyone talking on the phone to gardener Luise Lange these days will sense that working with bushes, flowers and trees is more than ‘just a job’ for her. “It’s just the way I am. I look at plants the way I look at people”, she says – which is why she is currently so worried.

The reason is obvious. For the past six weeks, there has been hardly any rain in the Düsseldorf region. Just one millimetre of rainfall, she explains, looking at her up-to-date measurements. Just one millimetre. That means red alert! Without the team of gardeners, many of the outdoor plants would have dried out long ago. Which is why Luise Lange, colleague Hans Günter Vieth and external employees from a gardening company work non-stop each day. Their job: watering, watering, watering. 

On the ERGO site, there are almost 160 trees in total. The plane trees on Fischerstrasse alone need up to 300 litres of water a week, while the 28 rooftop areas, totalling 11,000 square metres, are the areas most in need of moisture. These are mostly watered via installed pipes. The plants are grown in types of tubs which are automatically replenished with water. But many of the installations are thirty years old, so they have to be regularly maintained and checked. “Here we work hand in hand with our building services colleagues”, says Luise Lange.

And yet, despite intensive care, some roof plants can no longer be saved. Plants with tall trunks, like the false cypresses. Lange: “These don’t have an emergency response to drought like other plants. Cypresses transpire all the time, so they need extremely large amounts of water. But with the drought and the strong wind, sometimes you just can’t keep up. Then it always gets to me, like it would with a person who was ill.”

Never-ending story in the offices

Not so much in the outside areas but in the offices, Hans Günter Vieth is on the go, sometimes with external colleagues. Vieth is responsible for the more than 2,700 office plants – a never-ending story in the truest sense. “I never finish”, he says. Vieth and his team are on the go for almost eight hours a day, doing their rounds through the buildings with trolleys and water containers.

Vieth has noticed that everything is different from usual in the times of coronavirus. No meetings, no telephone calls, hardly anyone in the offices. “It’s sometimes been incredibly empty and quiet here”, he says. After all, most of the colleagues have already been working from home for weeks now. For Vieth, this means that he has to give the plants more water. This is because, on normal office days, many colleagues look after their own bit of greenery alongside their desks. “Since the start of home office working, my colleagues and I have taken round some 135 water containers, each holding 110 litres”, says Günter Vieth.

When will the office situation at ERGO change again? Hans Günter Vieth and Luise Lange don’t know – but it doesn’t matter! Even after the coronavirus, there will be little change to the work of the ERGO gardeners. For their mission is clear: “We really give our all to preserve the ‘green life’ at this location.”

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