By Kit Knotts with Werner Wallner
Click images to enlarge
Left to right - Werner, Carmen
(a friend from University)
Email has revolutionized communication. How else would we
find someone in Germany who would send us a comic book in Latin
and challenge our dim high school memories of it to read the
story?!?!? (We confess to having Rich Sacher read us parts of
"Asterix" in spite of our vow to tough it out.)
Over the last year or so, we have had a fun, funny and fascinating
exchange of email correspondence with aquatic plants grower Werner
Wallner of Königsbrunn, Bavaria. He and his partner Manfred
Schmid have a commercial nursery with 1,500 varieties of aquatic
and marginal plants. The sending of "Asterix" came
out of a discussion about matching genders of Latin botanical
names (which Werner knew and I either never knew or forgot).
It didn't take long to figure out that Werner knows his plants,
knows his plant names and has an interest in sharing knowledge
on a world-class level. Whether it's lotus from China, Euryale
from Siberia or Nymphaea and Victoria from Florida, he wants
to try it, share it with botanic gardens and feed back about
the results in Bavaria.
demonstrates the best way
to pick waterlilies
Though Bavaria is part of Germany, its mind set and climate
are unique. "The west and north of Germany have an Atlantic
climate, while Bavaria is more continental. Our climate is more
extreme, the winters colder, the summers warmer and we get more
"Our nursery is situated in the south-west of Bavaria
at an altitude of 600 meters (about 2,000') above sea level.
It's the region with most hours of sunshine in Bavaria. Most
people will suspect that our wine-growing regions have more sunshine,
but they haven't - we have the sunshine but no wine at all. During
winter temperatures often drop to minus 20° C (-4F) for a
few days; during summer they may rise to 35° C (95F) for
a few weeks."
In winter 2001, Werner wrote. "This year we have lots
of snow for Christmas, and we even had the coldest night for
more than 130 years: minus 45 ° C (that's minus 49 °F)
at the coldest spot in Bavaria. It's good to sit warm and comfortable
with a glass of hot wine at home on such a night."
time, he wrote, "This picture of my family that was taken
around the time when they dug our first ponds. They were farmers
and during winter, when they had less work, they started to dig
three ponds in our forest, each about 0.5 hectares (1.24 acres).
It took the family several winters to finish this job. The ponds
were of course not used for water lilies. Our region was extremely
poor at that time, so the ponds were used to breed carp. Later
my mother kept ducks and geese there, and when times became easier,
somebody planted the first water lily there. Just one - for decoration.
The ponds still belonged to the carps and ducks.
"For some reason this water lily infected the whole family
with the water gardening virus. My uncle started a collection
of water lilies in the 60's and 70's when water gardening was
not in fashion at all. At that time it was impossible to buy
named water lily hybrids. They were sold by colour only. It became
a habit in the family that everybody who found an interesting
water lily or aquatic plant brought it to my uncle. It did lead
to several catastrophes, for example when he planted Elodea densa
into his ponds. Of course he didn't know the name of the plant
nor did he expect it to be invasive."
With Werner, the attraction isn't just for Nymphaea but for
marginal plants as well. "I grow lots of moisture loving
plants like Asian Primulas, Gentiana sino-ornata cultivars, Empetrum
and many more." Images of these are included in his extensive
images of Schoenbrunn
In 2002, Werner was a major force in building the Nymphaea
and Nelumbo collection of the Imperial Castle Schoenbrunn at
Vienna, plate at the left. He also provides plants and seeds
for the collection of the Royal Botanical Garden in the "Nymphenburg"
("Fortress of the Nymphs") area of Munich, the garden
a foundation of the Royal Family of Bavaria.
Plagued with flooding in 2002 and a need to move to larger
quarters , the future of his own nursery is currently somewhat
uncertain. We are sure that a plantsman of this caliber can overcome
all obstacles to achieve his dream and that we will soon include
images of the new nursery on these pages.
Karolina Scheufele, Werner's mother, "senior chief"
of the nursery and the girl right in the middle of the family
picture above, recently celebrated her 80th birthday. This new
water lily cultivar was named in her honor on that day. The future
is as bright as this lovely flower.
N. 'Karolina Scheufele'
Note November 2003: Over the two years of this web site's
existence, Werner has provided more than 700 fabulous images
to our galleries. We have assembled just some of our favorites
in special galleries, indexed below.