Johannes-Ulrich Urban

Uli is the name I often use. Having been interested in plants since childhood, I have however never made a professional career out of this passion. By profession I am a pediatrician and had my own practice in Germany until I decided to retire at the age of 60 to start a new garden in a good climate in Portugal.

Even as a student with little funds to spare I always had my plants. Once qualified I moved to work in England where in my spare time I met like minded very knowledgeable plant's people who introduced me to an incredible wealth of gardening tradition and who treated me with an almost embarrassing generosity. This generous attitude of English friends has moved me deeply to this day.

I also used to work in France and francophone Switzerland.

Travelling has always been important. I spent some time in the Caribbean, the United States, and Mexico and traveled to Japan, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Kyrgyzstan, Bolivia, Brazil and many European countries.

When I was able to have my own house with a garden and a large greenhouse built onto a south facing fa├žade, my plant collection grew larger and larger. Many exotics had to be sheltered from frost every autumn and brought back into the garden in spring. As there were more and more pots to be moved, their sheer number and weight nourished the wish to migrate to a warmer climate without frost.

So in 2017 I moved to Portugal with my partner who kept me from becoming too dream ridden...

The most valuable plants were packed and moved with us, many were given into good hands and many were left behind to the new owners of my house with whom I am still in touch. Not all plants survived but most are now doing much, much better than ever before. And, of course, the collection is growing again with different plants. There is a small greenhouse for propagation and the tenderest plants, but almost all my plants are now permanently in the open garden. We live at an elevation of 350 m in the hinterland of the Algarve on the south-western tip of Europe and so far all winters have been frost free. Bulbs are a mainstay of the collection but there is more: cacti and succulents, salvias, camellias (we are on lime free soil), begonias, Monstera and Philodendron, and some aquatic plants in two ponds, to name a few. The small orchid collection I brought with me is expanding because orchids do ever so well here, many of them in the open year round. Sometimes, when I am planting something new like a home grafted citrus tree, a Protea, a palm, or a camellia I have to pinch myself for what I am able to plant now.

I have been a member of the Pacific Bulb Society since its foundation and joined the board in 2020. My main job is the organisation of the EU branch of the seed and bulb exchange in cooperation with Martin Bohnet in Germany who (besides other things) does the physical work of receiving and distributing the material.

If you come to Portugal, you are most welcome to our garden by prior arrangement. Our garden is pictured below.

Garden, Johannes-Ulrich UrbanGarden, Johannes-Ulrich Urban

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