This is the first of my informal illustrated reports on the delayed Society visit and meeting to Denmark and Germany in 2022, postponed twice from 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic. A full set of articles by members of the group will be published in the next journal, Clematis International 2023. To those attendees, I hope the wait was worth it, and this set of personal reports will bring back happy memories. To others, perhaps it will encourage you to join us on a future year. In this first report I will cover our visits on day one of our meeting, Sunday 10th July 2022.
IntroductionThe original idea for a visit and meeting to Denmark came from Ton Hannink around 2018. Ton had several clematis contacts in Denmark and thought it would be good for the Society and for our Danish members to hold a meeting there. In 2019, Fiona and I planned a visit to investigate various gardens and work out a suitable itinerary for a meeting. Unfortunately, Ton said he wasn't able to accompany us on our visit, but he gave us details of his contacts and various suggestions of places we might visit. Our planning trip went well, if a little hectic as we managed to survey more than twenty potential properties in five days. From our notes and experiences we constructed an itinerary for the meeting and passed it to our chosen travel company, Brightwater. Everything was looking good and we had a good response to the initial offering, and then, of course, COVID appeared. It was obvious the meeting couldn't take place in 2020, with group meetings banned and travel virtually impossible. We looked again in 2021, but there were still significant restrictions on movement or people, so once again it was deferred for another year. And so it has eventually taken place. There were not as many attendees as had initially signed up, but nineteen was still a good number, from five countries. We were also pleased to be joined in Denmark by some of our Danish members and on the last day in Germany by two other Society members. For this meeting, we stayed in the Scandic Aarhus City hotel, Aarhus, Denmark, for 5 nights followed by the Holiday Inn Hamburg, Berliner Tor, in Hamburg, Germany for 2 nights.
Scandic Aarhus City hotel
The allotment garden of Lotte HansenFor the first visit of the programme, we travelled to the outskirts of Randers and the Gardening Association Vasen allotment gardens. Since many Danish people live in apartments, allotment gardens are very popular. They provide outdoor space for people, to relax, to garden, to enjoy the peace and calm of nature. Lotte Hansen had invited us to look around her allotment garden, and we agreed that it would be best to divide our group into two, half to enjoy her space whilst the other half wandered past the other allotment gardens, looking at how differently they were being used. I was with the second group so my first photos are of the other allotment gardens.
Finally, it was our turn to visit the allotment garden of Lotte Hansen. It was fascinating to see how different her style was, and also very refreshing. Her garden is definitely for plants, lots and lots of them, for flowers, fruit, vegetables, in fact anything and everything that one can grow, as well as the birds and insects that thrive in these settings. She welcomed us in, telling us to go where ever we wanted. Impressively, Lotte had a list of everything she'd ever planted, so we were able to query any plant we didn't recognize. She lives on the allotment for periods over the summer. She's a great believer in re-use and her greenhouse is a wonderful example of this. Made from old windows, it's a masterpiece of recycling. It was fitted out with a very practical potting bench and numerous storage fittings. Whilst the other allotment gardens were very neat and tidy, I felt that this one was made by a true plantsperson.
Danish Flag, flying in several gardens
A typical Danish allotment garden, neat, tidy, with a greenhouse and another building
"Take a book, read a book" - the local library!
Immaculate lawn and arranged planters
Number 34 - we were invited in to look around by the very friendly and proud owners. Apparently they live here during the summer. The house looked spacious, very cosy
and well appointed with a good kitchen and comfortable living area. The garden was planted with a selection of fruit, vegetables and flowers (see above and below)
"The garden is open - welcome", Lotte talking with Fiona
A mass of plants
The veranda, it looks very relaxing
Looking past the veranda to the greenhouse
Greenhouse constructed from old window frames - a masterpiece of recycling
Well fitted potting bench
C. 'Hagley Hybrid'
The topiary and sculpture garden of Kirsten and Ingolf NielsenThe next visit was to the garden of Kirsten and Ingolf Nielsen, only a few minutes away as they also live in Randers. They speak little English, so they were joined by their friend (and fluent English speaker), Birgitte Dennis. Their garden is a complete contrast to the allotment garden we'd just seen. It is laid out in a formal design, with beds of flowers, shrubs, trees. All through the garden there are stone sculptures, made by Ingolf. Many are of animals, often with a humorous expressions. Ingolf is a very skillful craftsman. Whilst much of the planting is green foliage, there were a few clematis, but seedheads only.
A large gunnera in the centre of the front lawn greeted us as we entered their garden
A first view of their garden
Curved beds cut into an immaculate lawn, very architecturally planted for shape, height, colour and texture
Beautifully sculptured bird - made by Ingolf
Ingolf's sculptures were all over the garden, like this fun family group
More curved and sweeping flower beds cut into the lawn
A wise old owl surveying the garden
Note the wonderful stone pergola pillars - handmade by Ingolf
Left to right - Jeff Jabco, Ingolf Nielsen, Kirsten Nielsen, Birgitte Dennis and Fiona Woolfenden
Lunch at Laden and Vejrup's HaveIn order to maximize our time visiting gardens, we'd opted for a packed lunch today. We'd found a large garden, Laden and Vejrup's Have, which was open to the public and had both benches throughout the garden and also a covered space should we need it. What we hadn't realized was that, as part of our group admission fee, we would be provided with a wonderful selection of Danish open sandwiches, plus beers or soft drinks. It was very tasty. The garden itself is large with a good variety of plants, planted with similar colours together in discrete flower beds. Trees planted around the perimeter provide a wind break and create a beneficial microclimate. There is also a nursery and a shop with new and used horticultural items.
A tranquil pond in Laden and Vejrup's Have
Flower bed full of plants
Neat stand of trees
Bamboo clump, not as well confined to a single clump as a first glance would suggest
Hot flower bed
Very busy bees!
The Garden of Jette and Lars JensenJette and Lars Jensen have been growing clematis for many years. However, when Fiona and I visited Denmark in 2019, they were in process of moving house. They'd dug up most of their clematis and stored them at the home of Jette's parents, Margit and Vagn Elgaard, so we weren't exactly sure what their garden would be like. We'd seen some pictures on social media, but in real life, things can be different. And different they were, but in the best possible way. It seemed incredulous that Jette and Lars had created this garden in the last 12 months or so. It was full of plants, some clematis were very mature specimens, and looked as if they had been here for many years. I think they'd worked very hard to get it ready for us, but it had certainly been worth it. They gave us a brief introduction to their garden before opening the gate and letting us through. Lars is still a baker by trade, but now he works closer to where they live so he gets more time in the garden than before. This statue was carved by a friend as a birthday present - it is very imposing! There were lots of clematis in flower including a number of more unusual varieties. We were happy clematarians!
Jette and Lars Jensen welcome us to their garden
Lars Jensen and his baker statue - "Welcome to the Clematis Baker"
The garden is looking well established
Interesting use of steel mesh to provide support for clematis
A fine example of C. 'Evipo112' AYAKO™
A young bed with clematis over the arch
Flower beds in various shapes and sizes
Seating area made from bits of an old tree
"Manfred Westphal Strasse"
"Fleming Hansens Alle"
The slope of the rear garden allows a good view across the garden
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