Text and photos by or provided by
Christian Meyer - Click images to enlarge
< Christian with N. 'Primlarp'
When I was twelve years old, my family moved from the city
of Berlin to Hoppegarten in the suburbs of Berlin. I was always
interested in plants and when my parents met an old friend who
was growing orchids quite successfully, my interest in these
plants rose. After begging for a year or so, my parents bought
a small greenhouse at a garden fair that soon became the home
of hundreds of orchids. I was especially interested in the genus
Lycaste and started collecting them. I did well growing
orchids. I joined the local club and soon became a member of
the Royal Horticultural Society, UK, and the Deutsche Orchideengesellschaft.
In my free time, I worked at a local nursery, selling all
kinds of plants. I specialized in roses and perennials. Soon,
our garden turned into an all-kinds-of-roses-garden. Even today,
I grow 150 varieties of roses. But this was not enough! When
we visited a friend near Hannover, we passed a quite huge watergarden
nursery, Baldur-Bahr. Looking at all these wonderful lilies growing
there, my heart was inflamed for waterlilies. The one that I
will always remember is 'Charlene Strawn' which was growing there
in a huge pond. So I decided on growing waterlilies, too. My
dad dug my very first pond in our backyard and soon the first
lilies were planted.
Working in the nursery, I had access to some lilies that otherwise
would not have been sold. I was able to get my 'Burgundy Princess'
and a 'Gloriosa'. Unfortunately, the 'Gloriosa' did not make
it but the 'Burgundy Princess' did well. I divided it several
times and gave it as a present to all our neighbors, who loved
that unusual dark red lily. But then the time arrived when all
my neighbors were stocked with 'Burgundy Princess' and I could
not find anyone to take my leftovers. What was I supposed to
do? Yes! I asked my Dad to dig another hole in the backyard!
Can you imagine the challenge of digging a 4 foot deep pond into
clay on a hot summer day? Finally, I got my pond and planted
my leftovers into it.
When I went to study in Kingston, Pennsylvania, in 1998, I
almost had to give up my hobby. My Mum knew how to grow roses
by that time, but neither she nor my Dad knew how to grow the
orchids. The result was devastating. When I came home for summer
break, I saw a ruined collection of orchids in my greenhouse.
I decided to give up on the orchids and to focus on an easier
plant, my 'Burgundy Princess'!
After graduating from secondary school in 1999, I went to Goucher
College in Baltimore, Maryland, not knowing that a huge waterlily
nursery was right around the corner! I left Goucher in 2000 for
an International Management School at home in Germany without
ever visiting (was it Lilypons???).
Anyway, now I had enough time for expanding on waterlilies.
When there was no more room for another pond in our backyard,
I decided to grow waterlilies professionally. In 2002, we built
the first ponds for growing waterlilies commercially at my Grandma's.
I received my first shipment from abroad from Strawn Water Gardens.
By that time, I was already experimenting with breeding waterlilies.
For this reason I obtained a 'Rose Arey', 'Princess Elizabeth'
and 'Firecrest'. When I read an article about Dieter Bechthold
and his lilies, I was even more interested. Dieter and I started
German Two. Today, we work as a team, talking about breeding
results, marketing new cultivars, working on the new book (available
in spring 2006).
The nursery from above
The nursery in spring
As time went, more ponds were dug, more lilies found their home
in my little nursery which I decided to call Seerosenfarm (Waterlily
Farm). It did not take long to spread the news in my Grandma's
village in the very east of Germany (only 30km from Poland) that
"Mrs. Meyer's grandson is growing waterlilies in her backyard."
People came to visit my nursery and my Grandma is still proud
to take them on a tour of the ponds and greenhouses, where she
always mentions that her favourite lilies are the American hybrids
(referring to a huge clump of 'Sunny Pink' that I forgot to divide).
Participating in florist's educational training while studying
agricultural economics at Humboldt University, Berlin, and being
a certified florist gave me access to the flower wholesale markets
in Berlin, where I found wholesalers that were interested in
my lilies, not only as plants, but as cut flowers. Soon, I established
a packing room for lily flowers at my Grandma's and the first
lilies were delivered to the four flower wholesale markets in
Berlin. That's why I specialized in growing and breeding big
lilies. In the flowering season, my Grandma, my boyfriend Sebastian
and I pick and pack up to 400 lilies, 3 days a week and deliver
them to the customers. We pack 5 lilies to a bunch sorted by
quality, colour and stem length.
My favourite cut flowers are 'Sunny Pink', 'Barbara Dobbins',
'Gladstoniana', 'James Brydon', 'Joey Tomocik', 'Innerlight'
and capensis. In exhibitions such as IGA (International Garden
Fair) and BUGA (National Garden Fair), I earned several medals
for my lilies and especially the cut flower assortment.
In 2005, I was able to purchase an earth bottom pond where
I already planted some lilies just for fun. I plan on setting
up my motherplant stock there. I currently operate my nursery
with 40 ponds, 4 greenhouses and a huge display pond. The next
greenhouse is already purchased. So the story is to be continued.
for cutting in the greenhouse
Flowers for cutting in an outdoor pond
Gallery of Meyer Waterlily Introductions
Christian in one of the greenhouses
The new earth bottom pond