Saturday was taken up with visits to the gardens of four hybridizers in the area. I definitely wanted to see Don Lovell's seedlings (26 AHS registrations) as well as those of Nan Ripley (41 AHS registrations). I ended up seeing only those two because I was fascinated by so many seedlings and loved talking to the hybridizers. It was a humbling experience for this still-wet-behind-the-ears hybridizer to see a seedling garden with over 2,000 seedlings in it. The variety and the rich, vibrant colors (despite the 90°+ temperature) were amazing.
Getting to Don's place was an adventure. It seemed that he was located about as remote from civilization as you can get in that part of Iowa, even more so than the garden in yesterday's diary entry. Siri was happily giving me directions when she suddenly wanted me to turn left and head directly into a cornfield! Then she fussed a bit because I kept on driving and had not followed her directions. She made me do a U turn at the next gravel road, right into a tiny town where all the streets were gravel. She U-turned me through town and led me back out onto the highway. So we headed back to the cornfield where she once again wanted me to turn. I kept on driving and turned right at the next gravel road. Getting her bearings again, she correctly directed me to the road I needed. Turns out that road I was after started on the other side of the cornfield that she had wanted me to drive through.
Most everyone else got to Don's by bus, but I wanted to get there early, so that I could photograph while there weren't huge numbers of people swarming all over the daylilies. Because of the heat, I had to retreat to the shade of an old oak near the house to cool off occasionally. There was a breeze, so that helped some. I did finally grab a drink and some of the goodies that were available on Don's deck and retreated to my air conditioned car. After I had cooled down some, I went back out to get another drink and to socialize with the bus riders who had arrived in the meantime. I met a fellow garden writer, who expressed a desire to stop by our gardens soon.
Seedling beds at Don's farm
Don discussing one of his seedlings with visitors
Some of Don's seedlings:
After a long visit with Don and the bus riders, I headed out to Nan Ripley's garden, about half an hour's drive away. Siri got me there without any hitches. The bus people had already been there, so I had the garden all to myself. Nan is a sweet, energetic lady who just let me roam and told me to hunt her down if I had questions. I took a lot of photos. There were about as many seedlings in her beds as there were in Don's, but there seemed to be a greater variation in sizes, forms, and colors. Like Don’s seedlings, many of Nan’s were not only interesting, but also quite beautiful.
One of Nan's seedling beds
I arrived at the banquet hall a bit early again and walked to the front to sit at my now accustomed table. I was greeted by a reserved sign on the table, hastily scribbled in pencil on a flap from a cardboard box. Fair enough. So I sat down at the table next to it. People started filtering in, including Karole Emmerich. Expecting her to return to the now reserved table, I was surprised to see her come over to where I was seated and pull out a chair. She began talking to one of the people who had accompanied her to the table. The person mentioned something about two tables being reserved tonight. Two? "Is this table reserved as well," I asked Karole. "Yes," she said with a smile. But where was the reserved sign? Turns out that since I had approached the table from the side and not the front, I didn't see the second hastily scribbled sign. From my vantage point, it was hidden from view by the decorations at the center of the table. I apologized and got up to find another seat. At that point there seemed to be only one seat left in the whole banquet hall--in a dark corner way at the back. But that turned out to be a small adventure as well.
At my new table sat someone named Jonathan. He looked familiar, but at first I couldn't place him. Then he mentioned something about the University of Iowa. Turns out that he is a retired botany professor. Not only did I know him while at the UI, I even supported his research! Our office (Vice President for Research) had some money each year to give to up and coming researchers, and I was the one to dole it out. I did it by organizing review committees who reviewed proposals submitted to our office. Jonathan was doing research on wild cherries (Prunus serotina) at the time and won several grants from our office through me and the reviewers. We had a great chat about old times. He hybridizes daylilies, too, but recently he's been researching the cause of the daylily "spring sickness" that sometimes strikes daylilies in our neck of the woods.
Next time: Karole’s address to the convention and a conclusion to my diary entries
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