March 6, 2010
Last year in March 2009 this humble monk - Polish greatest clematis breeder was honored with The Order of Polonia Restituta - one of the highest Poland's orders. He died 4 months later, on 13th of July 2009, buried in Warsaw.
His plants were awarded many times by The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society in Great Britain).
The RHS awarded "Blue Angel" ('Błękitny Anioł'), 'Polish Spirit' and 'Warszawska Nike'.
Four clematis were awarded with medals at biggest european nursery exibition Plantarium in Holland: 'Kardynał Wyszynski', 'Blue Angel' ('Błękitny Anioł'), 'Westerplatte', 'Emilia Plater' and 'Warszawska Nike'.
Clematis 'Emilia Plater' was awarded by British Clematis Society with "Certificate of Merit 2002" in recognition of its health, pest resistance and beauty .
He is breeding clematis and daylilies for over 50 years, from 80 new clematis he has bred, 68 are registered. In the world register there is 115 his daylilies.
Not all of his plants survived. Many disappeared. There are some people in Poland that still search for it - maybe you have in your garden clematis Black Madonna or Julius Slowacki?
He used to name his plants after important people or events in the Polish history e.g. John Paul II, Cardinal Wyszynski, Frederic Chopin, Westerplatte, Monte Cassino, Warszawska Nike or Emilia Plater.
Clematis and daylillies bred by Stefan Franczak are loved for their beauty, long flowering period and - what's most important - health and pest resistance.
The monk was used to live in Warsaw in the garden of jesuits at Rakowiecka street, but he was awarded in Gdynia (300 km North of Warsaw) - this means that he moved away from his garden in Warsaw. In the news they wrote, he is very sick, since few years retired and lives in Gdynia (Source: Gazeta Wyborcza Trójmiasto).
Few years ago, the news spread that Stefan Franczak will be moved away from his gardens in Warsaw. Jesuits wanted to remove all the plants from the garden and replace it with lawn. How the story ended I don't know - I am planning to visit this place as soon as it gets greener around.
Here is the list of best clematis bred by Stefan Franczak - according to Polish University of Life Sciences
'Blue Angel' ('Błękitny Anioł') - light blue flowers with silky, frill-edged petals. Flowers long and prolific from mid June to mid August.
'Cardinal Wyszynski' - bright scarlet flowers, blooms from June to September.
'Warszawska Nike' - purple-violet flowers with contrasting yellow stamens. On sunny spots starts to flower mid May, on shaded end of May. Flowers long and prolific.
'Polish Spirit' - flowers seem to be velvet, in blue-purple color. Blooms from end of June till beginning of August, and then again from September until October. This is most popular of all clematis bred by S. Franczak.
'Westerplatte' - red flowers. Prolific bloomer from June to August.
'Emilia Plater' - Blooms from July to September. Grows well on every spot and has very modest requirements.
'Kacper' - big flowers up to 25 cm in diameter, violet. Peak of flowering in June.
'John Paul II' ('Jan Paweł II') - alabaster white flowers with light pink stripe through the middle, that gets darker during autumn blooming. It grows strong and high, so it can be used behind lower plants.
'Mother Ursula Ledochowska' ('Matka Urszula Ledóchowska') has pearl white flowers with contrasting red stamen. It usually starts the blooming in the garden from mid May till beginning of June.
'Baltic Sea' ('Bałtyk') - violet-lavender flowers. Flowers early from mid May till beginning of June.
'Dorota' light violet flowers, with light frill-edged petals and violet stamens. Blooms from June till August.
'Monte Cassino' dark purple flowers, velvet yellow stamens. Flowering period: June-August.
'Frederick Chopin' nice in shape, big, blue flowers and beige stamens.
'Matka Siedliska' this one is amazing - on previous year's growth flowers are white and double, on current year's growth flowers are single, white with pink stripe.
For those of you interested how Jesuit monk became a famous breeder you may read more detailed story below.
Stefan Franczak was born 3.08.1917, in Jeziorna as 12th kid of 14 brothers and sisters in farmers family. In 1938 he graduated from Agricultural School in Kepno and 1946 from Animal Husbandry School in Lisków (n. Kalisz). For two years he was working as teacher at Agricultural School in Jaranów.
In 1948 – 3 years after WW2 has ended - at the age of 21 he joined Jesuits in Kalisz without taking order. After 2 years he went to Warsaw, where he became in charge of 15.000 sqm of grounds belonging to Jesuits. At that time Jesuits wanted to built a church on these grounds, but communist regime didn't want to give a permission.
In order to end up any discussion, communists wanted to take away entire piece of ground for so called "important social cause".
Just to prevent that action Jesuits decided to transform fruit and veggie garden into beautiful garden open for public. That was the assignment given to brother Stefan.
In the monastery's veggie garden there was many palings and stumps - this is why brother Stefan has chosen ivies to cover them.
Entire international Jesuits community have helped to create that garden by sending different kinds of clematis. Brother Stefan was growing them, propagating and also selling to raise the funds to expand the collection.
Every self-seeded clematis was watched carefully by Jesuit, especially those which showed special features: either flowers, flowering period, health or hardiness seemed to be interesting. It took dozen of years before he named any particular clematis and decided to register.
First clematis got the name "John Paul II" - it was shown first at Chelsea Flower Show in 1982. Brother Stefan was invited to UK and he and his clematis were presented in BBC.
From 1960 Stefan Franczak had bred Hemerocallis of which 100 different kinds were registered.
He became honored member of International Clematis Society, member of British Clematis Society and American Hemerocallis Society.
"Brother Stefan have bred more kinds of clematis than any of the living breeders, he is 5th most frequent clematis breeder in the world. Some of his clematis are most beautiful kinds ever and at the same time they are healthy and pest resistant" - said Victoria Matthews, the RHS International Registrar for Clematis, author of many books and articles, UK.
Picture courtesy of great Polish Clematis Nursery