Seemes to me; I deserve a little
vacation to relax. Worked 80-100 hours a week for several months.
Not good for just idling, so since Martin from the Botanical Garden
wants a trip through Germany and the Netherlands, I'm game. Spend a
great deal of time figuring out which places are worth visiting,
where they are, and whether they have time for us. Taught by earlier
trips, it becomes more intense, but with fewer kilometres (around
1941). Have some problems finding available hotels and getting us
appointments in different places. In the end, I spend more time
planning and programming the GPS, than I did on the three weeks
expedition in Madagascar.
Unfortunately, it turns out Martin can't come, but now I want to go! I get to borrow Morten's car, packs a lot of electrical appliances (iPAQ, PC, cameras, GPS stuff) and some clothes. A short night's sleep after a closing the bar, and then out over the hills.
19. Get up real early, so I can get to the Kiel Botanical Gardens earlier, as they requested in an email. I just can't get the car started. Turns out, a gadget that needs to neutralize the immobilizer that can't do the job. Have to wait until Morten comes driven back from work at his MC, and then get him to come home with the immobilizer he uses himself. It works, but I've spent a few more hours, I don't have.
Fresh down over Zealand in light fog, reaching the ferry as planned. 420 kroner - each way! This part of Germany is similar to Denmark, and I gets off the highway fresh. Rolls into the parking lot at Kiel Botanical Gardens on the dot.
Large, relatively young garden, with nice plants, and some very large galvanized steel greenhouses. Here are many departments, from temperate to tropical to deserts. Found some very nice caudiciforms, but not as many, as I expected. Finally I find a gardener, but he doesn't understand much of my English. He finds a colleague who is American: David Eder. His main interest is Mesembs and Asclepiadas, but he likes to show me around.
Here is a very large collection of succulents, with a great many different within each group. Here and there, a caudiciform pops up, and I help them with a few names of some unknown ones. We walk into a strip of closed greenhouses where the coveted "Jacobsen Collection" hides among other things. Some are the old large plants, but others are cuttings and seedlings.
Before I know it, I've shot 300 photos, and it's almost half past four. Had really planned to get off at three, but just need to reach a hotel. Finds an unknown plant that looks like celery and with a powerful root: A caudiciform. Ask what it is, and David tells it is one is perennial, and from Tenerife: Astydamia latifolia. That is to say, it is an Apiaceae, just like the cormorant. They have four, so he asks completely unsolicited, if I want one. I would very much like to do that, as my representative for this family is a bi-annual that will not last for many years.
It starts to drip a little, as I head out to the car. Quickly it gets very dark and some violent showers come. I gas and eat supper. The gasoline costs DKK 9.33 a litre, close to the Danish price (8.26). A large meatball with champion sauce and potatoes costs 70 kroner with a cup of coffee.
Crosses the border to the Netherlands just passed six, and the weather clears up. Coffee and refuelling at eight o'clock, now the gasoline costs "only" 10.19. There are situations like this, where I DON'T miss my Land Rover driving three on the litre. Landing in the hotel two minutes before scheduled. I'm pretty happy with myself until I find out that the botanical garden I thought was five minutes away, might be inside Amsterdam. Panic somewhat over the situation, but have always had difficulty finding the difference between the two Amsterdam gardens. Maybe there is only one ??? According to the Dutch I write a lot with, there should be a good and a bad. One is the Free University: VU, the other is Hortus Botanicus. On the internet, they stand as VU Hortus Botanicus, and Hortus Botanicus should be the old, inferior one.
Wasting a good hour messing with it, and then deciding to drop it. There are five minutes to Winco, so why drive to Amsterdam tomorrow morning traffic and not find anything anyway? I persuade myself to sleep long, and have better time tomorrow. Should be able to find something to use it for ...
20. Quick breakfast, paying 80 euros for the room, as I had booked a double room the first time, as I expected we were two. 40 euros down the drain ... Round the corner to Winco. They have moved recently, and I will be back at Nico Klijn's house again. Tries the other address I have and it works. It is again a very large wholesale greenhouse complex, but I am allowed to walk around and photograph.
There are not as many caudiciforms as before, so it only turns into a small hour and just over 50 photos. They do a lot in Crassulas, large Euphorbias and Pachypodiums, column cacti up to four meters, gold barrows and other Ferrocacti, Agavas, 35-year-old Beaucarnias, which are spherical in size half a meter and many other succulents and large plants.
Buying a single gold barrows for Rikke, as I promised her several years ago. They have them in any size from 10 to 70 centimetres in diameter. I find one of about 30 centimetres, which probably fits nicely in her window sill. Gets an address of someone, who might be selling grass trees that the Botanical Garden is looking for. Thank you for look to the sweet people, and I rolling over to old Winco. I heard in Madagascar, Mr Klijn still buys plants. The old sales greenhouse is abandoned, and I have to knock over Mr Klijn. He says he has a partner, who has a large greenhouse in Panningen.
We head over to his office to find the address. Passing a greenhouse with various American cars and two completely renovated Rolls Royce from the 30s - they are huge! They are really very restored. The office is huge, so you hardly notice the hundreds of stuffed animals. Here's everything from little monkeys to a white tiger. Thousands of other exciting items are tastefully scattered around. Some well-planted terrariums stand in some huge shelving. I have visited many nature museums around the world that were not nearly as exciting.
Reach Grootscholten is an hour's drive south, and if I also have to reach the Tropical Centre, I have to move on. Here's just flat! All the gardens you see are incredibly beautiful. They beat Danish colony gardens with many lengths. Of course, it does not hurt, there are channels around them. Looking for a supermarket so I can buy some special liquor with the home of an acquaintance. Although I cross through tiny roads, and through smaller towns, I see nothing similar.
Landing at Cok and Ine Grootscholten at eleven. The size of their greenhouse surprises me every time. They have guests, but I do not reach far down through Cok's huge private collection, before he finds me. We go through it together. There are an incredible number of bulbs, other tubers and caudiciforms. I mke a lot of photos, and get to know a lot. He finds a Welwitschia and a Peperomia, that was on my wish list, and I will have to buy a sweet Othonna, although I shouldn't. Time is running out, and I am quickly going through the sales department and the huge cacti and succulent collection. Symbolically pays 20 euros and thanks for looking. It turned into about 200 photos.
There are 185 kilometres to Panningen, but due to a motorist having thrown his car through the guardrail, and far out on a field, it will be a trip of almost two and a half hours. Jump off at a suitable city that must have a supermarket. Find the boose, but they have no stronger spirits than liqueur wine. Despite it is a liquor store, the young guy has never heard of "Dutch cognac". He asks a colleague, as I look through the shop. Nope, it's obviously a north Dutch phenomenon. Last I found twelve different ones in the one supermarket I looked. Damn it!
Landing at Tropical Centre a little to four. It's huge too! Here are also two colossal exhibition areas: one with desert and one with fern forest. The sales area of several thousand square meters is mainly Mexican agaves, Yocca's and New Zealand fern trees, but there are also some shelves of cacti and tubers. Finds Jatropha, Bursera, Ibervillae's, Crinum, various Encephalartos, Pachypodiums, and giant Calibanus and Pseudobombax, some more elongated Beaucarnas and a few Fouquierias.
That's not where the Madagascar plants were? 50 photos later I'm ready for Germany. The GPS leads me through unbelievably narrow roads, through soccer fields and over fields of field roads, into forests and suddenly: across a huge channel. Have to wait until the ferry comes the third time. This is probably the shortest and most beautiful route, but probably not the fastest - after all. Means less, I have all evening. Crossing the German border at six o'clock, landing in Erkelenz half past seven. Have booked at Hotel Giftmühle - despite the name.
Get a wienerschnitzel that lacks sardines, capers, peppercorn, beets and the other stuff, except the lemon. Well, for 55 kroner, you do not get everything. After dinner, I take the computer down to the restaurant, so I can sit down properly. Might as well make website and arrange photos.
21. Get up a little to seven, strange sensation. Can't understand it must be modern? Heading just around the corner and out to a small village where Specks has his nursery. It is large, and here almost only caudiciforms. I am the only customer but they are busy packing plants for shipping. Although busy, Ernst gives himself time to chat. He says, among other things, people often refer to my website. Then we reverse some of the species-disagreements and he shows me the plants he wants to highlight.
I make a little over 500 photos, find some individual plants and get a bag of his good coarse gravel. Almost four hours have passed, and I have to leave. It is a long drive up to Bielefeld and Mbuyu, so I drive fast. Get most people were shaken off, but a car painted like a police car, but carrying the text Toll will not let go. They end up flagging me into a resting area, where I have to show passports and explain what I'm doing. Then he asks, if my cussing-control is defective. Arshole, but I'll let him go.
I land at Rainer two minutes past three and we walk down to his greenhouses. The new one that he has been building since I was last, here has a weird roof. It is a large balloon inflated by a relatively small blower. It uses only half the energy of the old, and may not have cost the wild in materials. He shows his plants, and I make a lot of photos.
There are not many of each, but an incredible variety. A large part of the first greenhouse is occupied by his own collection. Here are many exciting plants, but I miss some name tags. In turn, there are more alien plants here. Unexpectedly, I find some plants I have long been looking for, and suddenly three hours have passed. I only took 150 photos, but I have to go home.
There are 535 kilometres home, but they are divided in three: Dinner and Ferry. Arrivals quite well in Roskilde half past one, and turns around a couple of laps about myself, before I make get to sleep.
It went almost as planned, except Martin did not come along, Kiel might after all not have two botanical gardens, Winco had moved and Klijn had a new company. The planned 1941 kilometres became 1950, I burned 153.3 litres of gasoline (17 km / l is by grandfather driving!), Which cost 1420 kroner (Denmark is cheapest!), Ferries 855, food 325, hotel 980, plants 390, gifts ... In total, it was about DKK 4,000 for three days of entertainment, and six plants for the collection.