Community Planting: the Berman Hügel Garden

Help the Berman Museum bring its new sculpture to life.


Over the past year, the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art has collaborated with artists Syd Carpenter and Steve Donegan to develop a hügel garden at Ursinus College. The hügel, titled The Instrument, will join the museum’s extensive Outdoor Sculpture Collection as a living work of art.

Now that the mounds are constructed and ready for planting, we need your help! We have countless indigenous plants to add to our new hügel mounds. All are welcome to join us on Saturday, April 27 to contribute to this gorgeous living sculpture.

About hügels

Stemming from a traditional Eastern European gardening technique, hügels are giant mounds of earth that can be several feet high and can vary in shape and size. The inside of each mound has layers of organic materials, like rotting wood and plant debris, that boost the soil quality and support the plant life on top.

The idea behind a hügel garden is to mimic the natural process of soil formation, where layers of organic matter decompose over time to create rich, nutrient-dense soil. Compared to flat gardens, hügels improve drainage and water conservation, reduce the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and require less maintenance.

The Berman hügel will bear the distinctive mound shape within a terrace-tiled area to create a large, artistic display.

To see an example of a hügel art garden, check out Syd Carpenter and Steve Donegan’s hügel installation at the Woodmere Art Museum.