Gotta Garden

Friday, March 13, 2009

AHS Region 2 Winter Meeting...2009

We arrived in Cincinnati on Thursday evening, a good idea for us as our drive was long. Friday, we visited the Krohn Conservatory (as you saw below) and also President Grant's birthplace (DH is related and had never been there). We needed to get back to the, for the Exhibition Judge 1 class and DH for a handball match....

The class was upstairs in the hotel and there I found an interesting group. Taught by Nikki Schmith and David Kirchoff, we were entertained and educated into an understanding of the basics of exhibition judging. One of the things that became obvious to me is that great show flowers and great garden flowers are not necessarily the same, although they can be. As an exhibition judge, one looks only at the flower as it is that day. It was definitely informative and I recommend the class to all who are interested.

After completing the test, I made my way downstairs to the main event. Outside the door were catalogs and notices of future meetings/events. Inside, meeting organizers Dan Bachman and J. R. Blanton were kicking things off.

First up was the famous Gerda Brooker. It was especially nice to see her (of course, hear her) after knowing that at last year's meeting (in Cleveland), she had taken a very nasty fall and had extensive injuries. She looked just great! I learned a great deal about Gerda and her family as well as their program at Victorian Garden(s). Gerda's flowers are in demand and if you watch the Lily Auction, you see even seeds from some of hers command quite the price. Listening to her, I made notes to myself on crosses I might like to make this year using her famous Belle Cook.

A wonderful bonus, Gerda introduced us to her stepson, Malcolm Brooker, Jr., who is taking up where his dad left off, forging in new directions, and instrumental in keeping Victorian Garden(s) going. Between both Gerda and Malcolm, they have some beautiful flowers...with more on the way.

We then heard from Greg Jones who is the owner of Gilbert Wild Company. Many many daylily folks received their first daylilies from Gilbert Wild. Mr. Jones has purchased the company from the Wilds, bringing to the operation his expertise in horticulture production. Prior to owning this company, Mr. Jones had worked for Gurney's, Michigan Bulb and White Flower Farms. It's quite something to see daylily farming on the scale that it is done at Wild's. The family is no longer involved, but I believe some still live nearby. I liked that Mr. Jones was quite forthright in stating that their market is for the older, reliable more economical dayliliy(ies). Business is up this year (which is good to hear, in light of the economy) and some 42% of their business is off the internet. Even on the large scale that daylilies are grown there, much of the work is still manual and done with care. While not interested so much in hybridizing (Mr. Jones said his talents lie more in the growing and production), he does have his eye out for daylilies for his market.

The meeting was off to a great start...we retired for the evening to resume the next morning.

After a buffet breakfast, we all met again

and were welcomed by Region 2 RVP Nikki Schmith.

The first presentation of today (Saturday) was Steve Zolock who spoke about "Art in the Garden". He was later joined by his wife, Sarah, and together they gave a most thorough presentation. We learned the what, why and how of garden art and even their own definition: those materials the gardener places in the garden to add interest. It was quite fun to see how broad and wide various gardeners take this idea. Loads of pictures, truly something for every taste...and virtually anything one can imagine.

Next up was Mandy McMahon who did a brilliant job of introducing herself. She is a promising new hybridizer in Michigan who plans to introduce her first daylilies next year. We learned much about Mandy and her family (her husband was there...and quite proud, I'm sure). I didn't see her Superwoman cape, but she certainly deserves one. Mother of five, active and involved, and still, somehow, has time to grow and maintain (and add) a fabulous daylily garden. Surely, she must have more than 24 hours in her days! We'll look forward to seeing more of Mandy and her daylilies...and those great projects she involves her husband in.

Those of us on the AHS Robin know Bob Faulkner, so it was a special delight to actually see him and learn more about his unqiue flowers. Bob Faulkner hybridizes for patterns and boy, has he got it figured out! He's a fun guy, as one might guess from the robin, sharing his journey into hybridizing (not wanting to pay $50 for a daylily...some fifteen (hope I got that right) years or so ago...)...resulting in spending (of course) much much more than well as countless hours of labor...but, no one tells it quite like Bob.

Bob took us along on his personal journey and along the way, we met many 'name' daylily folks. It was all delightfully presented and he's right, many of us had never seen pictures of the people whose names we know. His garden (as well as many others) will be part of the Northern Mecca and based on his pictures, it is not to be missed.

Jamie Gossard...who could probably do an entire day, just himself...took us into his garden, Heavenly Gardens. Jamie is introducing amazing daylilies and doing much to advance the daylily. He is working to bring hardiness into some of the more tender plants, bringing their genetics up to the north and out into the garden.

With many daylily interests, the offerings from Jamie span the spectrum of daylilies. He is studying, observing and noting daylilies that have an "antifreeze" characteristic...important in the north, enabling them to handle winter...especially winter with uncertain snow cover.

Having a scientific background, James brings that into his program. He is the person to talk chemicals with...and can tell you all you want to know about conversions.

Some of us may remember his son selling on the Lily Auction....well, Jamie showed us the result of that...a new $8k building for his son's prize cows. Heavenly Gardens will be on the 2012 AHS National Tour (something to look forward to!).

We then were treated to a panel discussion. Here, audience members could ask questions directly to these experts.

Above: Brenda Macy, Gil Stelter, and Mandy McMahon (l to r)

Above: Bob Faulkner, Dan Trimmer, David Kirchoff (l to r)

Above: Steve Zolock, Malcolm Brooker, Jr. and Bob Tankesley-Clarke (l to r)

Above: Jamie Gossard, Steve Zolcok and Malcolm Brooker, Jr. (l to r)

Above: Everyone!

Bob Tankesley-Clarke took to the podium next with a program about Frank Kropf, "His Daylilies and Ours". Having known Mr. Kropf well, Bob shared with us his friendship with the man behind the doubles. Kropf doubles are well known for their consistency. Mr. Kropf was a doubles breeder, not a collector. We also learned about Bob's program...and the benefit to both in the sharing of daylilies. HONORING KROPF is an '08 introduction released this year by Bob. Based on Bob's recommendation, I have ordered (now received) The New Daylily Handbook from the AHS website.

The next presentation was by Gil Stelter entitled, "History of Arlow Stout". Having just read A Passion for Daylilies (more on that another time), I had a passing knowledge of Dr. Stout. However, Mr. Stelter has been doing extensive research (I think for a book, perhaps) and there was much more to learn. In their Gryphon Gardens, the Stelters collect Stout daylilies (as well as others) .

Dr. Stout is, of course, revered for his work in daylily breeding. The terminology we still use came from Dr. Stout. If I wrote this down correctly, Dr. Stout had some 85 introductions (seven after his death) and named 11 species. Of course, Dr. Stout didn't work just with daylilies, but they surely had a special place in his heart. It is fitting that the highest award a daylily cultivar can receive is the Stout Medal.

Our last speaker of the day was Brenda Macy. Her topic was theme gardens or "Flamingos, Marlene Dietrich and the Last of the Red Hot Lovers". While her pictures were great, it was her running commentary that had us laughing ourselves silly. We were informed from the beginning that we must behave or she would (as a librarian herself) break out her action figure librarian with a shushing action. Just in case that didn't work, she flashed a picture of Macho Librarians with Guns. We got the message (laughing).

We left with smiles on our faces.

Resuming Sunday morning, we ate another tasty buffet breakfast and took to our seats.

An amusing poem was read by Susan Adams..

...then we were reminded that the Summer Regional will be sponsored by the Chicagoland Daylily Society (July 10-12)....

....Dave Mussar encouraged us to attend the 13th Annual Can-Am Daylily Classic in Toronto (April 24-26th)....

....and our final speaker, Dan Trimmer, made his way up front. I was especially looking forward to hearing Dan as when I last heard him (at the 2008 AHS National Convention in Houston), he told a bit of his life story...most interesting...but when I attempted to tell DH, I discovered I had a forgotten a few important bits (like names...which for some reason...hehe...mattered to DH). This time, I got it down.

Anyway, Dan is very considerate in having a hand out, but I still like to take notes. Here are some highlights both from his hand out and from my scratchings. First, Dan doesn't consider himself big time (although we do) as, for instance, this year he will plant his largest seedling crop ever (5k) compared to folks like Frank Smith (some 112k). He sees himself with a small program....more like most of us backyard hybridizers.

Some good tips: Don't expect a perfect plant....they don't exist. Try to narrow your scope. It's all about the color. Save yourself time and think twice about mixing those colors (like red and yellow). Remember you'll meet in the middle with crossing big/small, fat/skinny, and early/late. Conversions rule. They can overcome much, are dominant and the first generation from a conversion is powerful also. Make sure you allow your seeds to ripen. Think twice about 10-10-10 fertilizers. Water.

There was much more, but I gotta save some for you, right? One of the things I appreciate about Dan is that he strives to remind us that this is for pleasure, for fun...and if you're not having fun, re-evaluate what you're doing. Keep the joy.

This was lots of fun and very informative, too. Let me just apologize now for my photos...taking pictures of moving, talking people is hard! Why oh why do I seem to capture them with their mouths open?? (Because they are talking, duh). Well, I'm just practicing, so I hope no one minds.

Thanks so much to all who organized and put on this event. You did great!

Real time: We've had a bit of snow. Fortunately, just a little bit that I expect to melt away. Hmmm, I got back up to check...and sure enough, the snow is gone.


Chandramouli S said...

Sounds it was very informative. Wish could've attended it too. Thank you for the summary :)

lynn'sgarden said...

Wow, alot of are a true daylily enthusiast! I just finished readinig "A Passion for Daylilies"..wonderful! Cool to put faces to names of hybridizers I've heard about. Thanks,

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the summary of the meetings!

Ginny said...

Very nice commentary and photos!
Ginny Byers

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