In this, my fourth and final report from Clematis 2000, I'll take a wider look at the activities and events of the total programme, from our pre-meeting few days in Warsaw, our conference in Pillnitz, Dresden and the optional excursion to Würzburg, including both clematis related matters and some of a lighter nature. Follow these links for the other reports on the Dresden conference, the pre-conference visit to Warsaw, Poland and the Bayrische Landesanstalt (LWG) institute in Würzburg.
The centre of Warsaw old town, as was mentioned in my second report, was reconstructed from the rubble of only a few decades ago. Dresden suffered similar devastation and subsequent rebuilding and the magnificence of todays city is a tribute to all those involved. The German Baroque style is typified in the Zwinger, a palace complex with two striking pavilions, the Rampart Pavilion seen here on your left at one end of a large courtyard and the Carillon Pavilion at the other, and bounded by galleries along the sides.
The restoration continues with one of the largest projects undertaken, the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche. The scale of the work is quite breathtaking, at the time of our visit the outer walls had reached 40 metres from ground level. When complete the church will stand some 75 metres tall, with the spire to your right on top of the centre dome. The workmanship shown in the rebuilding is beautiful, but seeing this massive task it makes one wonder how, with so much cruder tools and techniques, was it ever built in the first place!
Of the many people whose hard work in planning, organizing and executing this event ensured a memorable meeting, I'd like to give special thanks to Lothar Sachs and Renate Ansorge, and Marita Opalka and Karl-Heinz Feiring.
Lothar and Renate run a nursery just outside Dresden, growing various climbers as well as Clematis. I've already used a photo I took of one of his clematis, C. 'Prins Hendrik', in the August 2000 Clematis of the Month. It was taken in one of the tunnels you can see below. Originally cultivating fruit trees, they moved to climbers and Clematis as reunification brought changes in the market. As well as inspecting their considerable number of plants, we were treated to delicious coffee and homemade cakes.
Marita Opalka will be familiar to many of our members in name if not by sight since she runs the International Clematis Society Seed Exchange. She lives with Karl-Heinz at Schwarze Pumpe and we were able to visit them and see their garden by taking a small detour en route from Dresden to Hof. The garden is a wonderful contrast of sheltered woodland and open areas, presenting quite a planting challenge.
Marita has risen to this with a large and varied planting, whatever the conditions. Fortunately she also seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of their names for those amongst us who, continually looking for new varieties to use in our own gardens, kept asking her "What's the name of this, please?" And even under these difficult conditions, clematis still thrive.
There is much discussion these days of the perils of using so many chemicals and pesticides on our plants and in our gardens, and the merits of organic growing and cultivation. One of the more difficult pests to control in this way, at least in my experience, is the slug. But we now have the answer - the Duck Slug Patrol. Here you see two slightly more unusual employees at one of the nurseries we visited in Dresden. The ducks are allowed to roam the nursery at night and they have virtually no problem with slugs, or many other pests for that matter.
The programme for the optional visit to Klaus Körber's Clematis Garden near Würzburg included an overnight stop in Hof, with a visit to the Hof Botanic Gardens and what was described as "an allotment garden for three levels by Mr Fuchs". If you ever have the opportunity to spend some time in the Hof Botanic Gardens you really should do so. They are a Plantsperson's dream, interesting and varied plants in imaginative settings sympathetically combined with structural features to provide a feast for all the senses.
They are run by Mr Fuchs, so it shouldn't have been so surprising when, after a walk between other allotments we turned the corner and realized what a hidden treasure we were about to discover. An allotment like no other I've seen, it was beautifully constructed with nooks and crannies, bends and corners everywhere and around each one another horticultural treasure.
In a relatively small space he has a tremendous variety of plants, including some very nice clematis. But not only that, there's a pond at one end, small hedged square near the other, two sheds and various seats dotted about to encourage you to sit and enjoy the nature all around you.
Apparently the "allotment garden for three levels" was a slight mis-translation, it should have read "for three seasons" and who could doubt there would be something of interest and beauty in this garden for most of the year. Mr & Mrs Fuchs spend most, if not all, of their "free" time here, but the results speak for themselves. This was one garden where just about everyone wished they could have spent just a little while longer. My only regret, I found it nearly impossible to capture the magic on camera, there was just so much to focus on, so many different and interesting angles and even then I knew the results would not do it proper justice. But one must try.
And on that note I come to the end of my fourth and final report on Clematis 2000, a most varied programme and which many said had been our best event yet. So I leave you with a portrait of five presidents, if you recognized them all (there's a clue if you point your mouse over the picture).
Follow these links for the other reports on the Dresden conference, the pre-conference visit to Warsaw, Poland and the Bayrische Landesanstalt (LWG) institute in Würzburg.
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