Student Planting: the Berman Hügel Garden

The mounds are under construction, and the plants are on their way. All we’re missing is the helping hands to put it all together. 


The giant construction site you’ve walked past all semester is finally ready for flowers! The mounds of The Instrument are standing tall, and we need your help to bring this garden sculpture to life.

This is a great way to leave a last mark on campus, as many of the plants will return for years to come.

All students are invited to spend time planting at the hügel on Friday afternoon, April 26. We recommend that you wear clothing you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. Gardening tools and gloves will be provided.

Students enrolled in BIO/ENV-334 will receive extra credit for participating.

About hügels

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 on Ursinus campus. The hügel, titled The Instrument, will join the museum’s extensive Outdoor Sculpture Collection as a living work of art.

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.


The Hügel Site is between the Kaleidoscope and Wismer