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27/7 - 31/7 2004  DIARY  2


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From Diary 1, the tour goes further south
Wake up early, pull off the curtains, and enjoy an idyllic view of the Witte Canal. Waters along the banks, a duck family and small boats. The sun shines from a cloudless sky, almost as one might remember a summer's day from childhood. Hot shower followed by the delicious breakfast buffet. All the glory for 270 kroner.

Takes off so I can reach Winco, when he opens at nine. Is there a few minutes before, and here is not a soul. The door is not locked, so I sneak inside. Wouw! Several hundred square feet filled with cactus-succulent-caudiciforms. Many plants reach the ceiling and there are a myriad of species. I slowly but purposefully photograph myself through the building, just to get to another one! Here the plants are a bit younger and there are more cacti. In several places, there are cages with giant snakes and crocodiles, the largest being just over three and a half meters. He has had it for 30 years, I later learns. At the back are some long tables with succulents and caudiciforms. Unfortunately, there are no names, but I recognize some of them.

Then come the more commercial houses. Many are each species, but also many species distributed over their 8000 square meters. Many more photos later, I finally hear a voice. It is the lessee of the sales department. He is not that helpful, but he also has nine employees to keep him busy. I ask if the Nordic Cactus Society could get by next year, but he doesn't care. Find out later why. Besides, he is not interested in private customers.

The things taken into account, he is really very nice. He follows me around in his part of the houses. Tells that the houses and the large private collection belong to mr. Klijn. I find a large Ibervillea sonorea for Alex and a small Jatropha balanderii for myself. While I put the plants in the car, mr. Klijn get home. I walk over and greet. He's busy, so I don't get to see his collection (which actually was the one I started with). He tells m,e he's taking over Winco for October, and then NKS is welcome. Very sympathetic gentleman.

Next stop is Hoogvliet, which is a relatively small but well packed and exciting horticulture. He has plenty of time to talk and show off beautiful plants from the private collection. In addition to talking a lot over a few cups of coffee, I also come out with six plants. It is difficult to avoid, when I get / buy it at an average price of less than 20 kroner.

Suddenly, three hours have passed and it is high time to head on. A short hour and I'm at the Grootscholten. Cok runs through my lists, then I walk around and find the ones I want to buy, and the ones I just photograph. Last time I was here, it seemed a little neglected, but now everything is perfect. They just have to go out and shop, so I'm "manager" for an hour. When they come back I'm almost done, spending just an hour with Cok, before everything is photographed. And bought. Inexplicably comes out with five plants, again to under a twenty kroner each. I am offered to sleep here, also next time I pass by.

Finding a gas station - more expensive than Germany! Runs through the centre to buy some bottles of "Dutch cognac", which is almost Gl. Danish. It will not be sold outside the Netherlands, and I have an acquaintance, who is a big fan. Then it goes to the border. Stops at eight o'clock and gets a schnitzel with jägersauce. Cross the border at ten o'clock, and find Erkelenz half an hour later. Blush around a bit to find Pension Light, it's obviously hard in the dark. It doesn't get any easier, they've split the road in two, and removed the parts from each other. Since I find the right part, it is a big hole! It finally succeeds, and I get a delicious four-man suite. Just have to keep track of today's 266 photos, and a scribbled diary, and then it is again over midnight.

29. Too early, but there is breakfast to be eaten and plants to be photographed. Really nice place I live. Exactly in the middle of town, old building that has just been renovated. Here are just three or four rooms, and a very sweet older married couple, who are puzzling about the guests. The man tells, among other things, that the Specks dynasty started with a brewery. They provided beer for this place as it was a great hotel. Then I get strict orders to make me a sandwich for later in the day. Obviously a German tradition, I've seen Germans do it all over the world. Usually to the great indignation of the local hotel hosts. Well, a very good tradition when both parties agree. All the glory for DKK 260.

Finding Specks, that is: Their mailing address and accommodation. Fortunately, the maid is at home, so I get the horticultural address - or rather directions, as it have no road name. Here are almost exclusively caudiciforms, and many! Fortunately, I have most, but still end up with two for Alex and five for myself. The average price goes up to 40 kroner. Ernst runs through my lists, while enjoying a cup of coffee and a chair. There is a part I would have photographed that has been ready to get sold yet. Jointly find the last, photographers is, and says good-bye.

Return to Eden Plants, which is now open. The owner himself is on vacation, but a young girl check the plants. The private collection is gone and more Hodia, bulbs and cacti have arrived. She quickly looks through them and finds a single bulb. I don't know it, and I thought I should buy something. 40 kroner is not a fortune either. The time schedule keeps perfect and I drive further south. Get gasoline and soda on a tank - expensive habit! The landscape turns into huge hills and beautiful castles emerge. Summer is showing its best.

After three hours I arrive at Köhres Kakteen. In the middle of a villa neighbourhood, down the back of the garden, is a large greenhouse. Externally, it is covered with a myriad of bromeliads, inside with cacti. Very large and well-kept plants of countless species. Mr and Mrs Köhres live on selling cacti seeds! Exactly why I'm here, I don't know. Just that a mistake was made during preliminary investigation. Now that I'm here, I might as well take some photos and have a chat with the Köhres. Unfortunately, his English is worse than my German, but it works. Can see the scam when it comes to seed breeding: Do not get rid of plants.

It went a little faster than expected, so I'm aiming for the Palmgarden in Frankfurt. I'm fine, until I reach the city's boulevards. The tall buildings and the trees are blocking satellites. It doesn't get any better, most of the neighbourhood is blocked. The US embassy is next door to the garden. I just don't know, as I squeeze the car in between two concrete blocks with red rotor blinks on. The officers standing around their armoured crew cars take the astonishingly nicely.

It is just over four, as I pay (!) to enter. Well enough half price: 40 kroner, but still! Very impressive greenhouse complex. Climate zones, some divided into countries. The cacti house is probably impressive if you are into it, but there are disappointingly few caudiciforms. The Namibia house is only open Monday and Tuesday For a few hours, would otherwise have liked to see their big Welwitchians. Can glimpse them through the window, they "flowers", but is not so far. Could probably make an appointment to see them tomorrow, but that's the only thing I'm missing. Would rather have more time tomorrow. I thought there would be signs in English, but no, not a single one!

The hotel is just about a few corners. Just behind the main train station. Business district, just like in Copenhagen. The hotel looks a little suspicious and you can rent on an hourly basis. 300 kroner for a whole night and it is very cheap for Frankfurt. The room a surprise. New, clean, neat and really cosy. Going out to find dinner. Suspended types with crack pipes sit in the side streets, but the main street is very nice. Finds a kebab sandwich and a hamburger for under 50 kroner, and could have had only one of them. Grab a few cups of coffee, and write on the diary, before heading back to the hotel to arrange photos. There are 246, so it will take a while. A few hours later I went through all three days of photos. It gives 30 new photos of plants and flowers I had pages in advance, and 44 photos of new plants and some of their flowers. In addition, there are about 80 photos from the places I've been.
The last part is in Diary 3






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