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Journal American Rhododendron Society

Current Editor:
Dr. Glen Jamieson ars.editor@gmail.com


Volume 8, Number 3
July 1954

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The Account of a Flying Gardener, Part III
By John Bacher

THE HAMBURG FLOWER SHOW

Botanical Garden at Zurich
Fig. 20.  A collection of water plants in front of the conservatory
at the Botanical Garden at Zurich.
Bacher photo

        The flower show of Hamburg was a new wrinkle to me and merits much more space than our publication can give it, so I will say that since coming back I had followed this great show to its very termination in October by reading the reports of Swiss Gardeners visiting this horticultural event.
        The paid attendance record speaks volumes for itself as the numbers of visitors exceeded 6,500,000. To me that is proof that talent is recognized in Europe ever so much more than what we are accustomed over here. In the line of publicity however much more could have been done, for one of my own Portland friends spent some time in Hamburg without knowing or learning that the World's greatest horticultural event was being held while he was there. However the gardening press did its very best to acquaint every reader with the facts and details of the first International show of Horticulture in which 17 nations participated. It was largely the work of the horticultural press that made every owner of horticultural establishments feel it was the rational thing for him and his helpers to make the pilgrimage to the great show at Hamburg. The educational merit of that show proved so powerful that the gardening trade everywhere felt they would be behind the times unless a personal visit were made to see all the new things to be displayed.
        A good illustration was the first flower I had ever seen of the Crossandra undulifolio and of course, I was permitted to make pictures of it in color under poor conditions. I had purchased seed from Geo. Ball of Chicago early in spring as that was the first inkling I had of the beauty of this newcomer in the flower world, and of course I was very much delighted to see it in bloom for the first time. I did not dream at that time, that at the time of my return my own plants would be in full bloom in September. A little surprise to me is its continual flowering habit for it has never been out of bloom since, and is an astonishing feat for a new plant. I may also state that in this flower show I looked over a great many books and of course, purchased a new volume of Orchids by C. H. Curtis in the English language. Air travel limits your capacity to carry things so my book arrived in due time.
        Time however rolls on and my day at the flower show came to an end, although many features were missed by not consulting the pocket guide I had purchased at the time of my entry along with the ticket of admission. Soon it was time to engage passage with the Swiss Airline for the trip to Zurich. I spent the second night in the Hotel der 4 Jahreszeiten. I got an early start the following morning and wandered about the city of Hamburg. My minds eye was full of Wartime pictures of the terrible Aerial destruction, and I was more or less shocked by the fact that I failed altogether to see any bombing damage. Here and there some old buildings were in the throes of wrecking to make room for better structures.
        The weather was ideal for pictures and window boxes seemed especially charming. They were planted in colorful masses of Petunias, Geraniums, etc. with certain color schemes well adapted to the surroundings. Block after block were decorated with such boxes with a charming neatness. A joy to behold even to old time florists. These boxes had no connection whatever with the flower show but certainly gave one a good idea of what it takes to make a good impression on the sightseers whether native or foreign. It is no wonder Hamburg draws so many visitors. The residents know it pays to show gay colors about the city. The impressions these colors make on the public are not readily forgotten. The traditional sidewalk cafes did much to stimulate the inner man and this traveler believes in doing as the Romans do when in Rome.
        However time slips by speedily and so to the air field we went to catch that plane as I was expected in Switzerland by nightfall. Cloudy weather obscured much of the landscape, yet here and there it was possible to observe German agriculture at work in fields Hayfields particularly were being harvested and far off it was possible to note the river Rhine. One stop was made at Frankfurt with a few minutes rest. Here is an airport evidently extensively patronized by Uncle Sam's army for the War birds were here in great numbers all posed carefully in long rows. Coming from America as I did made me feel that Uncle was on guard here in truly impressive style. However before long we were on the way again towards Zurich and on nearing the Swiss border, I noticed that our plane made a wide turn around the so called Rheinfalls, Europe's counterpart to America's Niagara Falls. To my eyes it was not very impressive to look at from above, especially since I had recently seen Niagara. However the countryside made up for this deficiency by the neatness of its cultivated fields.
        Within 15 minutes we were at Schlothen, the great modernistic airport of Zurich. It is a work of Art insofar as buildings arrangement is concerned, with ample room and accommodations. Here I noticed a vast planting of flower boxes oozing over in color and elegance, but as the time for picture taking was over I had to pass them up much to my disgust, and I remember few spots where flowers played such a gay role as at Schlothen. Customs inspection here was a minor matter, for the Swiss inspection bureau makes you feel welcome by their actions. A bus load of travelers were taken to the office of the airline located in the same building, for the rail depot is about 20 miles from the city. In a very short time a room was secured in a new Hotel with all the conveniences a traveler can wish for. Telephone calls informed my relations of my arrival and by noon the next day I was in the midst of my relatives who had been expecting me, since being advised of my departure from home. The weather happened to be good with temperature of around 70° F. Apparently the rainy period was at its end and good days were the rule for the month of August. My early morning visit on the public market gave me a fairly good conception of the country's produce and prices, also the flowers of the region that were being sold there.
        Later I went to see the only municipally owned Cactus collection in Europe and it proved a real revelation, for the plants were part of the municipal Park and housed in excellent greenhouses. Quite a few color pictures were taken of them and some few black and white, yet the very extensive assortment, well labeled, merits one's time to look them over carefully. Fortunately a Mr. Wyss in charge is also president of the Swiss Cactus and Succulent Society and seems to know every plant in his care. Mr. Wyss is very well known as an author on that group of plants. To me this was really a feature of the first class. I am quite sure that the Swiss Amateur of plants have a real guide to turn to whenever they need plant information.
        The city of Zurich is located at the outlet of Lake Zurich. It is perhaps one of Europe's most modern cities, with a population near 400,000 people and one of their attractions is the Zoo located near the suburbs. It is well planned with a large collection of animals, and colorful plantings on the grounds. The botanical garden owned by the municipality contained a very large collection of plants all diligently named. A hill part of the crowded grounds provided splendid view of the surroundings. It appeared to me that the grounds for this garden and its wonderful contents ought at least to be doubled in extent, however being near the heart of the city it is impossible to do it. This garden reflected the nation as a whole with its overcrowded population, even though most of the tourists never notice the situation, due to Swiss friendliness.

Botanical Garden, Zurich
Fig. 21.  Cold frames containing half hardy plants
in the Botanical Garden, Zurich.
Bacher photo

(To be continued)


Volume 8, Number 3
July 1954

DLA Ejournal Home | QBARS Home | Table of Contents for this issue | Search JARS and other ejournals