Germany 2013 - Part 4
The 2013 Meeting of the International Clematis Society in Germany
This is the fourth and last 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 centres on our morning at the Rose and Clematis Show in Unterliezheim and the Gala Dinner back in Erlabrunn but also includes a couple of other things that I hope you find interesting. There is also some more music from Klaus Körber.
To read the first of my reports, please visit Germany 2013 - Part 1, for the second of my reports, please visit Germany 2013 - Part 2 and for the third of my reports, please visit Germany 2013 - Part 3.
Saturday 6th July - Unterliezheim Rose and Clematis Show
Saturday morning and the last day of the meeting. The weather looks promising as we load our luggage on the coach for the last time and head off for Unterliezheim and the Rose and Clematis Show.
At the centre of this small Bavarian village is the former Benedictine Monastery. Dating back to the 11t or 12th century (depending on which history you read), it ceased monastic usage in 1802.
Since 1996 the church and cloisters have been the centre of a Rose and Clematis Show, held over a weekend every three years. 2013 saw the seventh show.
This show is, I believe, a completely unique event. For Saturday and Sunday the centre of Unterliezheim is closed to all traffic. The church and cloisters are decorated throughout with floral displays and the rest of the centre is taken over by stalls selling plants - particularly roses and clematis - and lots of other things for the garden and the gardener.
People come from all over Germany and beyond for this celebration of roses and clematis. As well as the floral displays and stalls there is a two day lecture program by horticultural experts, including one by Dutch clematis breeder, Wim Snoeijer, and another by our previous president, Ton Hannink. There are also music recitals in the church.
Unterliezheim Church Floral Arrangements
I'll start with a look inside the church. It was dissolved during the Reformation and rebuilt in rococo style in the 18th century, light and airy with fine stucco decoration.
For the show, the interior had been taken over by the flower arrangers and decorated with delicate white, yellow and pink roses. Not just on the altar but all around the isles, in floral columns, sprays, even on poles at the ends of the pews. Combined with the natural coolness of the inside, they added a peace and tranquillity, and that in spite of the many people milling around to admire the blooms.
Unterliezheim Monastery Floral Arrangements
However the main floral arrangements are contained in the rooms of the monastery that surround the cloisters. In spite of arriving quite early there was already a queue to enter. Fortunately there was a "suggested" route that wound its way through all the rooms so movement was slow but steady.
As soon as you enter you are confronted with floral arrangements hanging from the walls and standing in the window bays. Small or large, they have all been made with loving care. However if you are expecting "bouquets of flowers" you could be disappointed for these floral arrangers have much more ambitious and interesting ideas. They also include much more than just "flowers", as the "fruit wreath" demonstrates.
I am certainly no expert on flower arranging but to my untrained eyes these displays were magnificent. They tended to have a theme and often used other items, perhaps a dress or, as you can see, a pottery tea service, to accentuate the arrangement, both in colour and in form.
The attention to detail was breath-taking. One had the very real sense that each individual flower, stem and leaf, had been positioned exactly where it had been intended to go.
It was the entrance arch to the third or fourth room that made me realize this show contained something completely new and spectacular for clematis lovers. As I mentioned in my previous report, Wim Snoeijer had driven down from the van Zoest nursery in the Netherlands to deliver clematis cut flowers to the arrangers. What I didn't know was that as well as the clematis cut flowers, the flower arrangers had also sourced lots of seedheads and large lengths of clematis vine. It was lengths of this old and thick vine that made the structure of the archway, which was then embellished with assorted clematis cut flowers, seedheads and foliage. All the arrangements were wonderful, unique designs, skilfully beautifully executed, but there were two which majored on clematis that I found quite amazing.
I believe the first arrangement was a floral interpretation of a church altar. In the centre was the altar, cascading with clematis, and it stood on a clematis carpet. Around were robes to represent the bishop and his helpers.
I hope these pictures give you a reasonable impression of the arrangement - unfortunately it was impossible to stand back far enough, even with my wide-angle lens, to get the whole of the arrangement in a single shot, let alone avoid people wandering in front of the lens. I have no idea how many blooms were contained within the arrangement but there must have been many hundreds and placing them all with such attention to detail would have taken many hours.
My second favourite was the "clematis stained glass window". Arranged inside a large white painted wooden frame and visible from both sides, this comprised of many metres of clematis vine, curled within the frame and then used to attach clematis blooms. Once again the attention to detail was remarkable, but to me it was the concept that took my breath away, totally original, very appropriate for the surroundings, a fantastic use of the diverse plant material.
There was obviously vine left over from the window to allow the arrangers to construct wickerwork-like spheres and other shapes.
There were far too many different displays to give a running commentary, so I will let the pictures do the talking.
There was even a picture with a clematis theme. The artist had reproduced this and other of her works as greetings cards and was doing a very brisk trade.
As in some previous shows, this one included a clematis "baptism" - the dedication of a new clematis. However this time, two clematis were featured, raised by Manfred Herian, member of this Society, clematis breeder, nursery owner, and along with his wife, Irmgard, planner and organizer of the Unterliezheim Rose and Clematis Show.
The clematis in question were C. 'Pretty Anna' and C. 'Pretty Barbara', named after the two daughters of Manfred and Irmgard Herian. The family gathered either side of the two plants and Ton Hannink, past president of this Society, also said a few words.
C. 'Pretty Anna' is a tangutica type and so was not in flower for the show, unlike C. 'Pretty Barbara', as you can see below.
Both plants were "refreshed" with a baptism of sparkling wine, as were the participants with what was left in the bottle!
The rest of the Unterliezheim Rose and Clematis Show
There rest of the show comprises stall selling all sorts of things for the garden and the gardener, as well as refreshments - I particularly liked the old but beautifully restored Citroen van selling home-made ice-cream - demonstrations such as weaving, activities for children, in fact far too many different displays to give a running commentary, so I will let the pictures do the talking.
We had to leave the show shortly after lunch as we had quite a long drive back to Erlabrunn, but as you can see from this view down our coach, we were not empty-handed.
Saturday 6th July - Gala Dinner
As our welcome dinner was held in the Hotel Meisnerhof, the final gala dinner was in Hotel Weinhaus Flach. Seated in the main dining room we enjoyed a menu based on the classic Franconian Wedding Dinner, though modified slightly for a more manageable set of courses. Our dinner was accompanied by music, Klaus Körber playing his saxophone and his friend on keyboard. If you want to hear a short clip, please click on the button below, though note that the file is quite large - 750 Kbytes - so it could take a while to load if you haven't got a fast connection.
The meal finished with speeches and presentations. Firstly Linda Beutler, President, presented Fiona and I with the Golden Clematis Award certificates that the Constitutional General Meeting had awarded us. Then she presented a "Germany 2013" engraved paperweight to Roy and Angela Nunn for their help with planning and organization, and finally she presented an engraved "Germany 2013" glass vase to Klaus Körber and his partner, Ewa, for their role in this event.
The evening finished as people gradually decided it was time for bed. Then on Sunday morning after breakfast we all went our own ways, after a busy but very successful meeting.
Wild German Clematis C. recta
I will finish this, the last of my informal reports, with three further items.
Roy and Angela Nunn along with James Earl, and Fiona and I, travelled to Erlabrunn a day or two earlier than the start of the meeting to get everything ready for registration on Saturday. By Saturday morning we had completed all the pre-meeting tasks - putting together the welcome bags, etc., so Klaus offered to take those who wanted to a site up on the hill above Erlabrunn to see the local native clematis recta growing wild.
In spite of the damp weather, Roy, James, Fiona and I jumped at the chance. Klaus drove us out of Erlabrunn and up to virtually the top of the hillside overlooking the village and river, parking a short distance from the road on a forest track, to walk down a little way to try to spot the clematis.
At first we saw nothing, then a few rather poor examples of a small white clematis flower. However finally we came across a larger plant with many flowers. It was an erect growing plant, and seemed to be found mainly a few metres from the track, often growing up above the surrounding grass and short shrubs.
Open Day at LWG Display Garden
Fiona and I had driven out to Germany and so on final Sunday, whilst everyone else was leaving and heading home, we were able to spend a couple of hours at the Open Day at Klaus Körber's LWG Display Garden - the garden we had visited on the first Sunday of the meeting.
As we approached it became apparent that this Open Day was attracting people from far and wide. Cars were parked on the side of the road for some distance either side of the gardens, and the car parks were getting very full.
The Open Day is designed to show off to visitors the variety of the work performed by LWG. As well as looking around the gardens, there were stalls selling plants and items for the garden and gardener, as well as food and drink. In between lecturing (we saw him talking about roses) Klaus Körber was also making tours of the gardens.
What impressed Fiona and I were the number of people, young and old and including families with children, the event had attracted, not just from all over Bavaria but quite likely from further afield. Admittedly the fine and sunny weather helped, but there seemed to be genuine interest and enthusiasm for gardening.
I finish this, the fourth and last of my informal reports on "Germany 2013", with a group photo taken at the entrance to the village of Erlabrunn, the "Village of 800 Clematis".
To read my first report covering the our initial time in Erlabrunn please visit Germany 2013 - Part 1. For the second of my reports, please visit Germany 2013 - Part 2 and for the third, please visit Germany 2013 - Part 3.
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