As a naturalist and explorer, Leichhardt invariably named his discoveries after others - his sponsors, supporters, suppliers and friends. It was left to later scientists and botanists to name creatures and plants after the great man himself. German horticulturists have kept that tradition alive in 2013 with the cultivation of a commemorative "Leichhardt Dahlia".
|The rich red 'ball dahlia' (Dahlia x hortensis) had its origins in "Sämling 547 (2008-2013)" and was bred by Wilhelm Schietwers of Legden, close to the city of Münster and the Dutch border. Partners in the project were Wolfgang Ritschel and the German Dahlia Centre in Bad Köstritz.
Inspiration for the memorial bloom was drawn from a letter written by Leichhardt from Geneva, on 23 May 1841, to his brother-in-law Friedrich August Schmalfuß in Cottbus. Werner Pfeil from the Arbeitskreis Ludwig Leichhardt in Cottbus has been a passionate advocate of this Bicentenary Year project. He hopes to be able to respond to interest from Botanical Gardens in Brisbane and Melbourne, and from the University of Sydney, to bring the Leichhardt Dahlia to Australian soil.
The Leichhardt Dahlia won the bronze medal at the 2013 International Garden Show in Hamburg. On 17 August 2013, at a ceremony at the Schloss Branitz in Cottbus, the flower was presented with its official 'certificate of baptism' by this year's 'Dahlia Queen' Anja, and the Vice-president of the German Dahlia Association. Heinz Panzer.
|'Dahlia Queen' 2013 Anja, with some of the other blooms featured this year.|
(Note from your reporter: it was fascinating - bordering on the spooky - to see the same huge pot of blooming Leichhardt Dahlia turn up at almost all of the different events and venues over the two days 22-23 October ... that plant certainly gets around! Click on either of the images below to see a larger version.)