Picking self-serve flowers in Germany’s hills

Through the leaves, I spotted my prey.

It was almost as tall as me, but facing away, towards the sun. Now if I just turned sideways … and stepped lightly … and then could … reach … a little further ….

Snip! I got it! Surely the best, biggest, yellowest sunflower in the field.

Sunflowers for sale in Germany

“Self-serve flowers” is my very rough translation for blumen selbst schneiden, and flowers in Germany have got to be one of the highlights of summertime here.

Like their neighbors the French, Germans get flower-crazy during the few months of the year when flowers can actually grow. Every window has a flower box; every streetlight has a hanging basket; and somewhere along the line someone got wise to the fact that unused farmland could quite easily be converted to cash with just a few seeds.

Blumen selbst schneiden

Aside from the aesthetic value (a landscape dotted with patches of technicolor) and the energy lift (it’s pretty hard not to smile at a field of sunflowers), I love the principle of self-serve flowers: first, that people are willing to take the time to gather flowers for their homes, and second, that it’s all done on the honor system (see below).

Sunflowers, gladiolas and lillies for sale via the change box honor system

Sunflowers, gladiolas and lillies for sale via the change box honor system

The field closest to my house fronts the main highway, meaning it’s easy to quickly pull over everytime you’re heading home. (A little too easy, judging by all the flowers in my house.) But hey, I’ll gladly plunk down spare euro-coins in exchange for huge, gorgeous blooms that last for weeks.

Besides, this isn’t just any regular commercial transaction … it’s as if I’m contributing to a local beautification project, a farmer assistance program, and my own improved feng shui, all in one.

The finished result: flowers that last for weeks

The finished result: flowers that last for weeks


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  1. Your blog about the self-serve flowers makes me smile. Once again, you make me feel like I’m right there with you admiring the flowers and choosing which ones to pick. Hooray for the Germans, what a simple idea. I’d love to see it catch on around the world. Love the sunflowers, too. xoxo

  2. I like your post and the great pictures. Did you know there are also places where they sell fruit and vegetables this way, usually they are farm houses along the road and they have wooden stands with a small cash box on them where you can put the requested amount for your apples or potatoes.

  3. I haven’t seen those but will now keep my eyes peeled! Thanks for the tip and for your interesting blog posts.

  4. One of the happiest, sunshine-y posts I’ve ever read. There’s more to Germany than beer – they have pretty wildflowers. 🙂

  5. Exactly! Who knew?!

  6. Yamileth Horwitz says

    Thank to this information about flower picking in Germany. My daughter Maya and I did it two years on a row.
    My friends and their babies had a good time and then we stop by a local bakery to get some fresh coffee and pastry.
    Thank you Jenna

  7. Yamileth – The bakery sounds like the perfect finale. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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