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Author Topic: The story of a Hepatica  (Read 4577 times)

Maggi Young

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The story of a Hepatica
« on: January 20, 2017, 02:20:43 PM »

Hepatica transsilvanica
'Blumenstadt Erfurt' 

The following story came from Glenn Shapiro, who has a National Collection of Hepatica  at Hazelwood Farm Garden in Silverdale, Lancashire.
 
Hepatica transsilvanica 'Blumenstadt Erfurt' has a story particularly relevant to today's world. Please read on.
 
 Plants with a History: Hepatica transsilvanica ‘Blumenstadt Erfurt’
 by Andreas Händel (translation from GartenPraxis, 4, April 2012, p.55)
 
 “Once when visiting my home town of Erfurt, I spotted a group of flowering sky-blue Transylvanian hepaticas shining out in the distance in a small shady front garden – it was Christmas!
 I rang the doorbell. A surly-looking woman appeared at a little window but didn’t even wait to hear me out. She slammed the window shut, saying “I’m giving none of it away!”
 Two weeks later I stood at the door again, but this time with a box full of hepaticas, corydalis and aconites. It was all as before: a ring at the door, the little window opening, and an even surlier face, but before she could slam the window I held up the box. She was taken aback just enough this time for me to finish my question and to offer the box as compensation. The decisive factor in the window not being slammed again was probably the one word: Transylvania! She was suddenly very interested in how I knew where this plant came from.
 She let me into the house and over a cup of tea told me the remarkable history of the plant. Her great-grandmother, who was born in Transylvania, had found it as a young woman during a new-year walk in the woods near Sibiu, at that time still called Hermannstadt, where the family lived. The whole wood, which was full of hepaticas later in the year, was still bare; this plant alone was in full bloom. It was taken and planted in the garden, and it soon became a family treasure. It was divided and planted out in several parts of the garden, and neighbours and passers-by all stopped in amazement to see it. Her grandmother then planted a 20-meter-long border on both sides of the path from garden gate to front door, and for many years it was a sensation known far and wide when in bloom.
 Then came the end of the war and the expulsion of the Germans – the family could only load the absolute essentials on a handcart. She herself, ten years old at the time, was only allowed to take one toy, there wasn’t room for any more. But as they were leaving she ran back and grubbed up a piece of ‘grandma’s flower’, wrapped it up in an old cloth and hid it under the cart in a box. The plant survived over three weeks in flight, and three more moves in the following decades, but it was always well protected in memory of the family and the old birthplace. Now I could understand why the woman didn’t readily part with it! On my way off I was allowed, under her watchful eye, to cut out a small piece, which I have since propagated and named after my home town.
 A while ago I stood at the garden fence again, but both the surly woman and the hepatica were gone.”
 
 Glenn continues: Hepatica transsilvanica ‘Blumenstadt Erfurt’ lives on in the National Collection
 The surly-looking woman may have gone from Erfurt, but her great-grandmother’s Hepatica, which she valued above her toys while fleeing Transylvania as a small child, lives on.
 Andreas Händel came to England last year, and brought some of his treasured Hepaticas for my National Collection. The one I have the strongest affection for is ‘Blumenstadt Erfurt’, because of this story, poignant to so many families in our very turbulent world. We all have plants evoking memories of family and friends; there must be a story about the origin of every garden cultivar, most lost in the mists of time. It is the job of our National Collections to keep them all alive and well. With climate change it may soon be a different set of cultivars that best suit our gardens, and with the help of Plant Heritage and its members, older ones have a chance of still being around for us to return to.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2017, 02:26:46 PM by Maggi Young »
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

Editor: International Rock Gardener e-magazine

Cfred72

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2017, 03:14:56 PM »
Very beautiful story for this little wild.  :)
Frédéric Catoul, Amay en Hesbaye, partie francophone de la Belgique.

johnw

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2017, 03:42:12 PM »
What a wonderful story! So now Erfurt is famous for its Hepatica and its delectable Sausages.


john
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Alan_b

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2017, 04:54:52 PM »
This is a poignant story on many levels; not least that an exceptional plant that was once "known far and wide" seemingly almost died-out and might have done so had it not come to the attention of Andreas Händel.   
Almost in Scotland.

Carolyn

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2017, 06:30:50 PM »
Just shows how important it is to share plants.
Carolyn McHale
Gardening in Kirkcudbright

Gunilla

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2017, 10:20:41 PM »
This is truly a remarkable story of a very special plant.  I was lucky to get this Hepatica from Andreas Händel in spring 2015 and found a place for it in my garden.  The first buds showed in December the same year and a few days before Christmas there were beautiful sky blue flowers out in the garden. It kept on flowering until the middle of March.
The ground is frozen here now but 'Blumenstadt Erfurt' has already flowered and there are plenty of buds to come.

1. Hepatica transsilvanica 'Blumenstadt Erfurt'  (21 December 2015).
2. Still flowering  (23 February 2016).
« Last Edit: January 26, 2017, 09:11:24 PM by Gunilla »
Gunilla   Ekeby in the south of Sweden

Gabriela

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2017, 01:30:32 AM »
What a fantastic story behind this early flowering H. transsilvanica!!!
Luckily that it propagates much better vegetatively than other species.
Gabriela
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Leena

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2017, 01:40:15 PM »
Thank you for the story.

not least that an exceptional plant that was once "known far and wide" seemingly almost died-out and might have done so had it not come to the attention of Andreas Händel.   

I couldn't agree more, it is so important to share plants to the people who value them, and also who propagate them so that they will not be lost once the original owner has passed away.
Leena from south of Finland

annew

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2017, 05:21:16 PM »
Lovely to have a back story to a plant. Galanthus Sophie North is another plant which stirs emotions each time it flowers.
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Natalia

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2017, 08:05:20 PM »
Awesome story!
Natalia
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Maggi Young

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2017, 09:12:13 PM »
Anne mentioned the story of Galanthus 'Sophie North' -   the story from Evelyn Stevens of how this snowdrop came to be named   can be read in issue 99 of the Rock Garden - pages 146 - 151 =- That is  one of the hundreds of issues of TRG available on the SRGC Website.

  Direct link for  Issue No. 99  is  http://files.srgc.net/journals/vol_1%20to_113/99.pdf
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

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Peppa

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Re: The story of a Hepatica
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2017, 05:56:24 AM »
Thanks for sharing the story! It is always nice to know and remember the story of a plant - it makes it easier to appreciate them! Thanks, Gunilla, for posting the pictures!
Peppa

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