Dr. Karl-Heinz Hübbers was born in 1942 in Kranenburg, a small town in the lower Rhineland. After his medical studies in Muenster, Germany, and New Delhi, India, he specialized in Internal Medicine and Radiology.
In 1987 he returned to his parent’s home. Soon following his botanical interest, he began collecting rare trees, which led to a small arboretum.
Fascinated by hollies (Ilex) he selected from his own garden seedlings, plants with interesting characteristics, e.g. non prickly and fastigiate forms.
In 1984 he started a growing collection of camellias, many of which obtained from Trehane Nursery in England. Most of these were purchased in Italy and Belgium. Little wonder this fascination resulted in own selections and crosses.
However of all camellias the ‘Higo’ camellias are his favourites. A big experimental field were rhododendrons and azaleas. Together with his own crosses his collection grew to more than 1000 different plants.
Since the fungus problem with ‘bud blast’ (Pycnostysanus azaleae) he undertook a strict selection to that extend that only resistant or more or less resistant plants were left. The same applied to azaleas with powdery mildew.
The biggest challenge came as the attraction for kalmias (kalmia latifolia) grew. This fascination was awakened after reading the book on kalmias by Richard Jaynes. But how could one create better plants when it was not possible, to purchase different cultivars in Europe! However, after finding 2 different plants in England and the Netherlands he immediately started to cross kalmias in 1987.
His first aim: A kalmia with the darkest possible inner corolla with a strong contrasting outside. K.l.‘Mitternacht’ (‘Midnight’) is the result.
Other aims were:
- Resistance of diseases,
- Good growth paired with good root system,
- Wider range of colours,
- Varied inner pattern.
The cultivar ‘Eskimo’ has many fine characteristics: white flowers and big dark shiny leaves.
The cultivar ‘Ginkona’ with notably large flowers laid the foundation for a new series of hybridization (‘Bandeau’, ‘Sterntaler’, ‘Tofka’ and more).
The first named cultivars were grown by Bock Bio Science near Bremen. Long standing personal connection to many nurseries favoured a good cooperation and promotion of the first cultivars (among these nurseries were H.Hachmann in Barmstedt, M.Neumann in Berlin, E.Stoeckmann in Bad Zwischenahn, Wuestemeyer in Schermbeck, Cox Glendoick Gardens in Scotland).
Meanwhile all new kalmia cultivars as well as azaleas and some rhododendrons are being multiplied with great success in the lab of T.Kusibab in Krakow, Poland, and grown there to be released to nurseries.