2016 saw the Society visit Berlin and Poland. The meeting was in two locations; initially based in Berlin, Germany and then in Poznań and Warsaw, Poland. The Society has visited Germany a number of times before but never the area round Berlin. We visited Warsaw in 2000 prior to the Conference held that year in Dresden and visited Poland again in 2002 so it has been a number of years and another visit was well overdue. In this, the first of my four informal reports on the meeting, I will concentrate on the first two days spent in Berlin. For my other reports, please click Berlin and Warsaw - Part 2, Berlin and Warsaw - Part 3 or Berlin and Warsaw - Part 4. Please note that these reports have been written by myself, Fiona Woolfenden.
Welcome DinnerIn the evening after conference registration we headed off to our welcome reception and dinner at restaurant 'Zur letzten Instanz'. This German restaurant dates from the second half of the 13th Century and got its present name meaning 'The Last Chance' after the Courthouse was built opposite in the 1920s. It was great to get together with people that we had not met for at least a year and renew our friendships.
Welcome reception at 'The Last Chance' restaurant!
Berlin City TourThe first morning of our Conference was spent on an introductory and orientation Bus Tour of Berlin. I've picked out a few things that we saw to mention here. The first stop was the remains of part of the Berlin Wall now called the East Side Gallery. The Gallery consists of about 100 paintings by artists from all over the world, painted in 1990 on the east side of the Berlin Wall. A number of them have been restored including the picture of the trees below, in fact we saw someone painting it the day before when we travelled passed it. The most famous painting depicts the kissing communist leaders Leonid Brezhnev (Russia) and Erich Honecker (East Germany). The painting was inspired by the kiss they had in 1979, during the celebration of the 30 years of the German Democratic Republic, East Germany.
The next stop was the Gendarmenmarkt; a square in the centre of Berlin containing the Opera House and the German and French Churches (or Cathedrals?) to the left and right of the Opera House respectively. The square was created at the end of the seventeenth century as the Linden-Markt and reconstructed in 1773. The Gendarmenmarkt is named after the cuirassier regiment Gens d'Armes, which had stables at the square until 1773. During World War II, most of the buildings were badly damaged or destroyed. Today all of them have been restored. We had several evenings to ourselves in Berlin and this square was a favourite place to eat in the evenings.
The East Side Gallery
Bus in Gendarmenmarkt Opera House German Church French Church
Then we were off again and onto the Brandenburg Gate. Our Bus had to stop a way away as it was very busy with busses, cars and people. It's one of the most recognizable landmarks of Berlin and has stood for over 200 years. The gate is at the entrance to Unter den Linden, the boulevard filled with linden (lime) trees, which led directly to the royal City Palace of the Prussian monarchs. It has withstood damage in the Second World War but today was a hive of activity as a huge TV screen was being erected for people to view the German vs Poland football game the following day.
Our bus in the Gendarmenmarkt containing the Opera House, the German Church and the French Church
After the Brandenburg Gate we stopped by the Holocaust Memorial. It consists of a large area covered with a large number of concrete slabs or "stelae", arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The stelae vary in height and length and are arranged in rows and tilt at different angles. We have visited this Memorial previously and it is easy to feel dwarfed and disorientated by the stelae when walking amongst them. There is also an underground building that holds the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims. It is a sobering reminder of previous atrocities. Behind the Holocaust Memorial was the Reichstag building which was not fully restored until after German reunification on 3 October 1990, when it underwent a reconstruction which included the glass dome led by architect Norman Foster. After its completion in 1999, it once again became the meeting place of the German parliament: the modern Bundestag.
The Brandenburg Gate
A final photo taken on our Tour of one of the differences still present today between West and East Berlin. This is an old East German traffic light which have been left and show today which part of Berlin was East Berlin as West Berlin has the 'normal' round red/yellow/green lights. The delegates' conference bag contained a pack of East Berlin traffic light jelly babies, a nice touch!
The Holocaust Memorial with the Reichstag in the background
East German traffic lights
Garden LüdkeThen we went to visit our first garden of the Conference – and what a garden! We were welcomed to the garden by Marianne and Detlef Lüdke and their small dog who barked loudly every time we showed our appreciation of our hosts and their garden, by clapping. This garden had been in the English part of West Berlin but was very close to the border with East Berlin. The garden was actually 3 plots, two together and one a little further up the path.
We were invited to wander and to sit and enjoy the garden. There were seats in the shade and where there were viewing points. There were a large number of ponds with seats to enjoy the water and plants. It was a very pleasant way to spend our first afternoon. There were many roses and herbaceous plants. The roses, in particular, were very good and full of flower. We had just missed the flowering of the majority of the aquilegias, peonies and alliums but there were areas of the garden still to flower. Marianne told us that it had been very dry for a number of months so she got up at 4 am to water the garden every day.
Marianne and Detlef Lüdke and their small dog welcoming us to their garden and our conference organizer, Helga Marie Huber, thanking Marianne for her hospitality
We were also offered some typical Berlin food of meat balls with homemade sour cherry streusel (a sort of crumble mixture). Absolutely delicious! There were a large number of clematis in the garden. Some of my favourites that I spotted were C. 'Arabella' and C. 'Juuli' climbing 1.75 m (5 ft.) supports and C. 'Fujimusume' at the base of a tree. C. 'Romantika' looked fantastic growing over and through a variegated hedge. One clematis that I had not seen for a while was C. 'Minister' which looked fabulous growing up a 2 m (6/7 ft.) support.
Views of Garden Lüdke
C. 'Romantika' C. 'Fujimusume' C. 'Arabella' C. 'Juuli'
The majority of the clematis were labelled and a nice touch was that on the plant labels Marianne had put on one side the name of the clematis and on the other side when the clematis plant should be pruned. A good reminder when out in the garden. The garden had a number of nice touches, one of which was a wooden pheasant perched on top of a hedge.
You can find out more about his wonderful garden in German at http://www.luedkesgarten.de.
Wooden pheasant on hedge Plant labels with pruning instructing on the back, e.g. "Prune in March"
Botanic Garden Berlin-DahlenOn the second day of the Conference we spent the day at and around the Botanic Garden Berlin-Dahlen. We waited at the gate for our guides and some of the group showed off their clematis outfits!
We divided into 2 groups and went off in different directions to see the gardens. Our group was taken into one of the glasshouses to see amorphophallus titanum which was in flower. This is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world and it also is supposed to smell of rotting meat. This particular plant did not smell when we visited it and was the most incredible colour purple looking down from above. Very unusual!
Then we went out into the gardens. We were impressed because our guides had taken a lot of trouble to find out where Clematis were in the Botanic Gardens and then organized their tours to show us them. Often when we have visited other Botanic Gardens the guides have ignored the fact that we are a Clematis Society and not shown us any clematis in their gardens and not even know if they have any. These guides showed us a number of plants with flowers (such as C. integrifolia, C. recta, C. mandshurica) and a few alpinas with seed heads and other clematis such as C. tibetana yet to flower. We were all very pleased with our guides and their advance research. Thank you Dahlem!
The glasshouses and gardens in front of them
For more information, please visit https://www.bgbm.org/.
C. alpina seedheads
C. recta in flower
C. tibetana yet to flower
The Royal Garden AcademyWe had time for a quick look round the nearby Royal Garden Academy before our afternoon lectures started. The main thing that we were interested in was the Japanese garden at the Academy. This was small but very interesting and a haven to sit in and relax shut away from the world. I was quite amazed at how the rocks were suspended.
There were also rose gardens and herbaceous boarders with the lovely old brick house in the background. There were also tea rooms where we had a slice of cake and a drink while sitting out in a garden in the shade of trees and a shop selling plants and garden sundries.
The Japanese Garden at the Royal Garden Academy, Berlin
For more information, please visit https://www.koenigliche-gartenakademie.de/home/.
The Royal Garden Academy, Berlin
Lectures at the Botanic GardensThen it was back to the Botanic Gardens for a number of Clematis lectures on previous Society trips, plant hunting in the wild and member's favourite clematis. One interesting lecture was from Ton Hannink who was not with us on this visit but had prepared a presentation on his crossings with pictures of the results. These talks will be documented in next year's Society Journal, Clematis International 2017.
Gardens of the WorldThe third day of the conference started with a visit to a park containing a number of gardens from different countries around the world. There are a number of different gardens spread across the park so you have to walk between them. We visited most of the ones that were open as unfortunately large areas of the gardens such as the rose gardens, were being rejuvenated for the International Garden show (Deutsche Bundesgartenschau-Gesellschaft (DBG)) being held in 2017 in Berlin. I've just mentioned in this report a few of the gardens that interested me. The first garden that we visited was the Oriental garden. This had an interesting peaceful room, which I think was a prayer room or a room to encourage contemplation, and then a tiled area as an introduction to the courtyard garden containing water fountains and a number of tender plants such as lemon trees in pots. It was very restful and on a hot day the water would have created a cooling atmosphere.
We spent some time investigating the Maze before we discovered it's secret and successfully reached the centre to climb the stairs there and survey the rest of the maze.
The Oriental Garden
The Christian Garden was very interesting and striking. As you entered a garden enclosed by hedges the first thing that greeted you were screens with well-known religious words and phrases in German. The planting enclosed within the screens was quiet and soothing being in green and white. There was a large water feature of several large granite blocks with water flowing along the top and over the sides at different angles.
Getting lost in the Maze!
Next we visited the Karl Foerster Garden which contained a number of herbaceous perennials such as alliums, delphiniums, alchemilla mollis and hardy geraniums with some bush roses were surrounded by evergreen hedges divided into quarters. Surrounding the central garden was a pergola with a number of climbing roses which were in full flower. There were some clematis amongst the roses the best being a small flower that was probably Clematis 'Betty Corning' although there was some doubt.
The Christian Garden
Finally, a number of us spent some time watching a hard working air of coots in the Chinese Garden. The Chinese Garden itself was very nice with several interesting trees, ponds and features such as stone lanterns, bridges, covered walkways and windows. However, the stars of the garden were a pair of coots who were industriously building or repairing a nest, fetching and arranging reeds and other plant material for it. Later in the day one of our group spotted 2 eggs in the nest after the parents had completed the nest to their satisfaction.
The Karl Foerster Garden and probably Clematis 'Betty Corning' with a rose
For more information, please visit https://gruen-berlin.de/gaerten-der-welt.
Chinese Garden - lake and lantern Chinese Garden - window Coots on a nest Coots on a nest
Next MonthFor my other reports, please click Berlin and Warsaw - Part 2, Berlin and Warsaw - Part 3 or Berlin and Warsaw - Part 4.
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