Germany 2013 - Part 2
The 2013 Meeting of the International Clematis Society in Germany
This is the second of my informal reports about the visit by the Society to Germany in June/July 2013. A comprehensive set of reports by attendees will be published in Clematis International 2014.
Our itinerary was based around three centres, Würzburg, Stuttgart and Ulm. This report takes us from Erlabrunn down to the Stuttgart area and to Ludwigsburg Palace and the attached Blooming Baroque gardens.
To read the first of my reports, please visit Germany 2013 - Part 1, for the third of my reports, please visit Germany 2013 - Part 3 and for the fourth of my reports, please visit Germany 2013 - Part 4.
Tuesday 2nd July
Tuesday morning and it's all aboard our double decker coach, say "goodbye" to Erlabrunn for now and start our travels, heading towards Stuttgart.
The double decker coach is wonderful. With everyone together it is much easier to make sure we haven't left anyone behind. But it is a big vehicle so it is good that we have an excellent driver - Tomas. Klaus Körber has worked with him before and knows he is very safe and reliable. Just as well as we will be travelling down some quite narrow roads and having to manoeuvre into some tight places!
It only takes 15 minutes to reach our first stops - Garden Dreams and the private garden of Marianne Kraus. Both are quite small for our group of 65 so we split up, half and half, changing over half way through the bright and sunny morning. Garden Dreams is the show garden of Corinna Seubert-Kohrmann, a garden designer who also sells support structures, ornaments, pots and other garden paraphernalia - as Klaus said to me, "things you do not need but which, having seen them, you want". Klaus is right, her garden and shop both contain some lovely things! The garden lies behind the house and courtyard but you must walk through what appears to be a old barn to get your first view of it. It's quite large, very neat and tidy, with immaculate lawns and curving flower beds. Needless to say there are many support structures in use in the garden, quite a few used with clematis.
It goes without saying that the flower combinations are quite stunning. But for me the beauty and interest in this garden was in the detail. Stand in one place for just a few minutes and look around, and you'll start to see things you'd initially overlooked. And the longer you stand, the more you see. It is very cleverly designed to reveal itself to the visitor very slowly, very gently.
The contrast of Marianne Kraus's garden could hardly have been more dramatic. Hers is a very personal garden, most definitely one that is lived in, worked in and one to explore. It is a gardener's garden.
She says she is influenced by British garden culture, and certainly she uses many roses as well as clematis along with other plants and box hedging. Her garden comprises a number of "rooms", each with its own theme, though there is certain amount of overlap, with one room spilling into a neighbour.
You can see from this selection of photos that there is not much spare space in Marianne's garden. It is obviously a garden that has been lovingly planted and is lovingly maintained.
Time to move on, we have a drive of a bit over one hour to reach Heilbronn and the Garden Centre of Klaus Kölle. We arrive to be met by Klaus and some of his staff, who lead us to some seats just outside the Garden Centre where lunch is provided.
The Kölle family have been in horticulture since 1818. Rose production was moved to Heilbronn In 1890, but it was 1956 before the first garden centre opened. In fact this was the first self service garden centre in Europe. Today Pflanzen Kölle can be found in twelve locations across Germany. Klaus Kölle is still involved with the business but it is now headed up by his daughter, Angelika Kölle. As we enjoyed an excellent lunch, Klaus and Angelika told us a little of the history of their garden centres and their philosophy. Over time, and through focussing on quality as well as value, "Pflanzen-Kölle", with its characteristic yellow and green branding is a highly successful business. Even on a weekday there were lots of people around, and lots of carloads of plants.
We only had a short time to glance inside the Garden Centre but even from this the range of both plants and horticultural and garden accessories was impressive. In fact many of us could easily have spent the afternoon looking round the garden centre, but it was soon time to move on, firstly for a quick walk around a nearby Production Nursery before visiting "Auf dem Ackerle", the private garden of Klaus and Annabelle Kölle.
The Production Nursery deals in many different plants, though a large percentage of the stock there were roses. We split into two groups for a conducted tour of the facility, although given the size we only walked around a part of it. It is vast. We walked through one of the greenhouses, with fully automated ventilation, watering and screening systems, and the plants arranged very neatly in rows - all very clean and tidy.
No time to loose, it was back on the bus and off to their private garden, "Auf dem Ackerle". Like many people in Germany, their garden is separate from where they live.
When they first purchased this land, it was a field. Klaus and Annabel Kölle have transformed it over a number of years into - a show garden, a family garden, an art and sculpture garden, a clematis garden - take your pick.
First impression has to be the wonderful view across the valley to the vineyards on the opposite slopes. With this as a backdrop and having given everyone refreshments, Klaus Kölle gave a short history of the garden. He introduced his wife, his brother, Gerhart, and other helpers. Then we were free to wander around, from garden room to garden room, admiring both the plants - just about all of which were clearly labelled - and the sculptures that are dotted around. In particular, Annabelle was at hand to answer questions, also she had questions of clematis identification for us to answer, which a number of us did.
I cannot remember just how many different clematis cultivars there were, but they all seemed to like the conditions they received at "Auf dem Ackerle".
C. 'Fujimusume' C. 'Venosa Violacea' C. 'Justa' C. 'Roko' Three Graces sculpture Flamingo sculpture
Garden sculpture Prehistoric animal sculpture Three Graces sculpture Twisted Steel sculpture
It was a wonderful and very relaxing afternoon, helped perhaps by some of the refreshments, in particular the champagne! Klaus and Annabelle were perfect hosts and didn't seem to mind 65 people looking into every nook and cranny of their garden. And we did come up with names for most, if not all the unidentified clematis cultivars.
The day ended with a drive to Ludwigsburg and dinner in a restaurant close to our hotel, quite a nice meal though the air was hot and a bit oppressive.
Wednesday 3rd July
Consequently it was a bit of a shock to wake up on Wednesday morning to the sound of raindrops. Fortunately it was more of a steady drizzle, but still wet! After breakfast we boarded the coach for the five minute drive to Ludwigsburg Palace and Blühendes Barock - the Baroque Gardens that surround the palace.
It rained more or less the whole of the morning, though it did ease off a little at times. A shame as the gardens are very impressive but also quite large and need to be strolled around to see the various different corners and themes. For some, it was a good excuse for sitting under cover and sipping a coffee in one of the cafés, but others braved the elements and went in search of the Baroque.
We entered though the palace courtyard in the middle of the grounds, but the main entrance is via formal gardens and flowerbeds, leading to a large lake and fountain in front of the palace main entrance. The planting was very colourful, both the beds that flanked the main drive and the flower beds just in front of the palace.
Off to the side was a small walled garden with a rather nice rose walk, as well as some artistically placed flower pots on the side of a staircase.
Whilst some of the group enjoyed the cover of the cafés, some of us ignored the steady drizzle and investigated the park to the rear of the palace. It is divided into a collection of different gardens and other areas.
Off to one side was the Orangery, a large and lofty glass house which was featuring an exhibition of orchids. Just outside were a few colourful low raised beds. A little further and you reach the Aviary, a large netted structure with various birds inside, including these flamingos. They didn't seem to mind the rain.
A little further on and there were a number of old fairground attractions, including large multiple person swings and this very fine Merry-go-round or carousel. The carved animals are particularly fine.
And then we saw the first clematis. Probably a C. 'Jackmanii' or something similar, climbing up an attractive white trellis panel. It was not the strongest specimen and looked a bit bedraggled in the rain but it was a clematis. The trellis bordered a lawn on two sides and there were a few of them planted along the trellis. Possibly they were relatively newly planted and need another year or two to get established.
Fiona and I decided to have some lunch in the café by the rose garden. The rose garden contains a moderate collection, perhaps not particularly large but quite nice, or at least it would be if the sun was shining.
One can control many things on a Society meeting but the weather is not one. It was a shame, I visited Ludwigsburg Palace and the Baroque Gardens in July 2012, on a lovely sunny morning. Although the roses were finished by then, the gardens were beautiful and a joy to stroll around - but then it wasn't raining! We had to keep telling ourselves that it was good for the plants. For anyone visiting this area when the weather is better, Ludwigsburg Palace and Blühendes Barock should not be missed.
Early afternoon and a rather damp group boarded the bus. It was obvious the Palace shop had done good trade in colourful umbrellas, with scenes of famous German cities and sights. We had a short drive to Hemmingen and the private garden of Friedrich and Elke Schmid. And someone was smiling upon us as the rain had just about stopped by the time we arrived.
Friedrich and Elke Schmid live in, as I remember, what remains of the family farm. Much of the original land had been sold to leave a nice house, various farm building and barns, now used for other purposes, and a good sized garden surrounding the house. We were greeted by Friedrich and Elke, their daughter and her family who now live in the USA but were over for a few weeks. This turned out to be very useful as the daughter of the daughter translated for Friedrich.
In front of a large barn was a lovely display of pots, toughs and other containers filled with all sorts of plants, including some clematis.
After a welcome we were free to wander as we wanted, with home made refreshments to hand as required. The garden was contained many clematis but also other plants - it was a garden to be lived in and enjoyed.
Some of the longer serving members of the Society may remember Edith Ordille, a joyful German member of the Society who died in a tragic and needless accident a number of years ago. Fiona and I knew Edith and so were very moved when we came across the trough below, beautifully planted, with this plaque on the side.
Friedrich and Edith had obviously been good friends and it was a lovely and very fitting tribute to this lady.
Our entertainment this evening was a wine tasting at a the Bottwartaler Winery in Großbottwar.
Accompanied by bread, a plate of cold meats and cheese cubes we sampled some nine wines, including a welcome glass of sparkling pinot blanc de noir.
The tasting was tutored, but unfortunately our tutor spoke no English. Klaus Körber did a wonderful job translating but this was rather difficult since our tutor spoke quite fast and also at length over each wine before giving Klaus the floor. Klaus had to resort to making notes - or was he just making it up?
All the wines were good, though I think each person had their own favourites as the styles varied significantly. I rather liked the 2012 Aurum Riesling, beautifully dry, but my favourite was the 2011 Aurum Lemberger, a lovely dry red wine matured in oak barrels to give a good depth of flavour.
Some of us came away with a few bottles and Fiona and I still have a couple waiting to be opened. They will probably not have to wait for much longer!
Next month it will be the "House of Good Things", the wonderful garden of Gisela and Walter Stäbler and possibly the best cakes I've eaten in a long time! Don't miss it.
To read my first report covering the our initial time in Erlabrunn please visit Germany 2013 - Part 1. For the third of my reports, please visit Germany 2013 - Part 3 and for my fourth and last report, please visit Germany 2013 - Part 4.
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