A lot of allotments

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I travel on the German national rail network twice a week, mostly between Hamburg and Berlin but also to other major cities, so I get plenty of time to take in the view. And often what you see on the city outskirts are Kleingartens or allotments either squeezed between the roads and rails or backing onto the lines. But the allotments in Germany differ from the English ones and it got me wondering why this is so.
German Kleingartens (small gardens) typically have a well manicured lawn with hedges or fences dividing the properties. Each plot has a small building which resembles a house not a shed, with sloping tiled roof, windows, patio, satellite dish and flag pole for the national or regional flag. The houses even have toilets and kitchens, and there are a strict set of legal rules to adhere to within the Kleingarten community.
In England the allotments are more utilitarian and used for growing vegetables, they have small sheds that only house the gardening tools and often the plots are divided by wire or narrow raised grass path.
So why the difference?
Most people who live in German cities rent apartments. This means they have no gardens with the traditional lawn and herbaceous borders. At best they may have a balcony, so there was a greater need for allotments to be used for relaxation and to let people appreciate the outdoors.
In English cities, more people live in houses that have gardens and therefore allotments have traditionally been used to grow food and not to relax in. England also has a tradition and history for landscape gardening and people model their gardens enthusiastically on the latest gardening trend or design, so there is less desire to do this on an allotment. And furthermore there is a higher single property ownership rate in England and less dependency on renting, so that maybe another reason why there are around a million rented Kleingartens in Germany and only 80,000 rented allotments in England.

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