Als Pionier der Heidezüchtung hat sich Kurt Kramer mit seinen Gardengirls® in den letzten 45 Jahren einen Namen gemacht. Tatkräftige Unterstützung erhielt er dabei von drei weiteren Züchtern: Horst Marohn, Helmut Hiedl und Johannes van Leuven. Gemeinsam etablierten sie unsere Gardengirls® als eine der marktführenden Heidekulturen europaweit.
Or how I transformed my passion for breeding into one of
the most renowned brands in the horticulture industry – the Gardengirls®
(by Kurt Kramer, Creator of the Gardengirls®)
The Sunset Fire®-Trios are compositions of several combinations of Sunset Girls varieties. They convince the market with their intensive bright colours in one pot and their long shelf life well into next spring. The colour spectrum of their foliage ranges from Yellow, Orange, Red and Copper to a bright Green and even a shiny Silver and a Black hue.
Fluffy® - The Velvet Heather builds a new concept. The variety ‘Zilly’, introduced 2017, receives a new name and marketing concept. The name Fluffy® - The Velvet Heather shall emphasize the unique characteristics of this variety and associate to the value of building comfy ambience at home. Fluffy® is very robust with long shelf-life indoors as well as outdoors.
The goal of the brand relaunch of our Gardengirls® is to manifest the values of our comprehensive assortment with the new and existing brands in the market. In autumn of 2020 we commissioned new, modern lifestyle pictures, which we present in our promotional material and at this website. The rather emotional mode of expression of those photos shows examples of usage of heather plants as attractive decoration elements. Additionally, we restructured the section “Ideas for heather enthusiasts”. Here you will find now versatile, attractive, and exceptional ideas how to set the scene for heathers.
We refreshed our well-known Gardengirls®-logo. The striking magenta colour and the contours remained, but the logo appears now fresh and renewed.
For 15 years, the bud-blooming dwarfs with the trailing stems are a specialty within the Gardengirls® assortment. In all European markets this group gains increasing market shares in the retail stores. Celebrating the 15th anniversary, we combined all five varieties of this important group to the brand Rasta Girls®. They come with their own matching logo and label.
The varieties with the special decorative foliage were re-named Sunset Girls® (formerly Sunset Line). The promotional material of the series shows a heath at sunset.
We named the group of varieties with the beautiful leaves Sunset Girls. The sales and market acceptance increased over the years. The uniting name of these cultivars is well chosen: The ornamental value of the bud steps back to give room to the bright colours of the foliage are reminiscent of the scene at dusk with the last golden sun rays of the day. The colour range reaches from a bright shining emerald-green over golden yellow and copper red to a bright Silver and even a Dark Green shimmering Black. The varieties of the Sunset Girls are ideal plants to bring structure into every decorative planting enriching the garden with their bright colour contrasts from autumn well into spring – over the entire wintertime.
They easily can be combined with Erica carnea the winter-heather or Snow heather flowering from winter into springtime.
The Sunset Trio even enables the display of the national colours of Germany and Belgium simply combining ‘Zulu’ or ‘Zalina’ with ‘Zoe’ and ‘Zeta’.
In the year 2012, Kurt Kramer received the prestigious TASPO Gold Award as entrepreneur of the year for his lifetime achievements. The jury of leaders in the horticultural industry honoured the Gardengirls® - licensing system with the special aspects of a production in line with the market and equal fairness to all producers. Even today this system exists and is unique to the market. The quality controls made at the production sites and on the wholesale and retail level, the European wide marketing and especially the intelligent control mechanism of the production quantities make the Gardengirls® to an exceptional reliable and sustainable partner in the market. Income, yield and added value safeguard the success of the brand on all levels of the trade.
In the year 2008, the variety ‘Athene’ received the renowned TASPO-Award for the best Plant Introduction of the Year brought to the market. The variety was baptized together with the sister cultivar ‘Helena’ introduced 2006 by the famous singer Vicky Leandros at the state garden exhibition in Winsen (Luhe). The names of the Greek goddesses ‘Athene’ for the red variety and ‘Helena’ for the white cultivar were inspired by the Greek heritage of the successful show star.
Since 2006, Kurt Kramer cooperates close knit with his breeder colleagues Helmut Hiedl (pictured left), Johannes van Leuven (pictured in the centre) and Horst Marohn (pictured to the right) to combine the efforts in breeding and selection of the best clones. Their varieties are also produced and sold under the brand Gardengirls®.
This cooperation brings unmatched diversity and inspiration due to being situated in different production areas in Germany.
In the year 2005, the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Junggärtner e.V. (Association of German Young Horticulturists) and the heather breeder Kurt Kramer planned and planted a heather garden at the Grüne Woche (International Agricultural Exhibition) in Berlin. For this important event, every year in January the main focus was on the winter-flowering Erica x darleyensis ‘Kramers Rote’. The event was supported by the then German Federal President, Horst Köhler, the then Federal Minister of Agriculture, Renate Kühnast, and Karl Zwermann, then President of the ZVG, the German Central Horticulture Association.
In the year 2004, the first plants of the new variety ‘Nelly’ were sold. At that time, the breeding of this exceptional heather plant with the pendulous growth habit called bud-blooming dwarfs, already started at this point. Nowadays, there are seven varieties in different bud colours with different vigour.
In the year 1997, Kurt Kramer decided to combine his heather varieties under one umbrella with a brand name easy to understand all over Europe – the brand Gardengirls® was born. All new varieties of these bud-bloomers received therefore girl names. In the meantime, over 80 varieties of Gardengirls® are in the market. Two varieties produced in one pot are sold under the brand Twingirls®. In the same manner, there are Trio, Quattro- and Quinto Girls.
All varieties enjoy Plant Breeders Rights Variety Protection.
In 1993, we used the PLANTEC International Horticulture Exhibition in Frankfurt/ Main to show the assortment of the new bud-bloomers the first time to a broader audience. The displays were simpler these days then now. The plants were produced and donated by a licensee of Kurt Kramer, who was a member of the Flower Wholesale Market in Frankfurt selling his plants there. At that time, it was very essential to inform visitors about the Plant Breeders Rights Variety Protection. The CIOPORA – the International Community of Breeders of Asexually Reproduced Horticultural Plants helped with this task.
In the year 1981, Kurt Kramer succeeded in his efforts to breed with the natural occurring “bud-blooming” heather types. Therefore, after concentrating on Erica species, the focus of breeding switched again to Calluna. Today, the Calluna is the most important ornamental plant in Germany, well before the Pelargonium (geranium). Calluna is the main plant in autumn sales.
Pictures 1–3 show the seeds, the sowing process, and the development of the first clone (the propagation of cuttings). The comparison of the new experimental varieties (clones) takes place under the normal growing conditions. Not much changed over the years. This happens first in pots, then in the open field for several years (pictures 4–6).
It was a long, difficult process to reach the goal of breeding always improved heather varieties, not without many setbacks. The first important successful varieties those days were the open flowering Calluna ‘Arabella’ and ‘Stefanie’.
Kurt Kramer was more successful in less time breeding with Erica:
After initial crossing in 1980, our founder and breeder Kurt Kramer selected a promising seedling of a hybrid with Erica x darleyensis, named appropriately ‘Kramers Rote’ (left). Very soon, this variety was produced all over the world. Encouraged by this breakthrough, Kramer continued to breed with other heather species like Erica carnea (centre) and Daboecia cantabrica (right).
After passing the examination at the Horticulture Master School in Aurich in 1970, Kurt Kramer annually produced up to 350.000 heather plants in the newly founded Calluna Specialty Nursery. Exactly on November 17, 1974 he started his first cross with the witch broom heather (Calluna vulgaris). His goal was to find a variety which flowered later in the year then the natural and randomly occurring varieties.
The pictures give you a microscopic view of the various steps in the breeding process: Pollen (left), germinated pollen (centre) and fertilized ovule (right).