After the banquet and a relatively short business meeting, Karole Emmerich gave the keynote speech. I was impressed. She was clever, witty, and knowledgeable. She spoke of the life lessons she’s learned from the daylily and from plants in general. Here are ten of the many parallels she drew:
• Look beneath the surface. Just as plants find nutrients there, we find valuable information.
Don’t depend on the superficial.
• Plants do well when they get what they need. So do people.
• Companions are helpful. Companion plants can assist in the growth of others. We, too, flourish
when there is companionship in our lives.
• Order and disorder live in the same space. It doesn’t take much to bring about disorder in a garden. Weeds are the primary culprits. Our otherwise orderly lives can easily be sown with discord as well.
• Beware of weeds that look like flowers. Some weeds are sneaky and can mimic the appearance of flowers growing next to them. We’ve all met people who looked like flowers but turned out to be weeds in the end.
• Illness befalls plants as well as people. We seek solutions for those illnesses. Karole gave an example from her own life. Her home state of Minnesota is noted for a preponderance of deer ticks and consequently Lyme Disease. Seeking protection from this terrible affliction, she was inoculated with the first Lyme Disease vaccine available. Unfortunately, she had a reaction that produced symptoms very much like the disease itself. She had terrible dizzy spells, sometimes forcing her to spend weeks in bed. Her mind began to fog over. Simple things like turning a knob on a dial were about all she could manage. What a relief it must have been when the symptoms began to disappear. She suffers from a bit of residual dizziness, but is otherwise back to normal. The world of daylilies is the richer for it.
• Unpredictability is the spice of life. Just as we can get unpredictable results in our hybridizing programs (perhaps sending us off in new directions), so unpredictability in our own lives can lead us into new pursuits that have unexpected positive results.
• Just as we can help plants reach their potential, we can help people in our lives do the same.
• Don’t be lured by sirens. Karole showed us photographs of some spectacular patterned daylilies she’s produced. The problem? They only had four or five buds on a scape (rather than a more respectable 10-15). If you’re serious about producing quality daylilies, you sometimes have to let go of the sirens.
• Make the most of where you’re planted. Plants do it. So can people.
Karole at the lectern discussing one of her slides
The evening also held a pleasant surprise for attendees. A huge tubful of daylily fans, about five feet long, three feet wide, and three feet deep, sat along a side wall as we entered the hall for the banquet. I didn’t think much of it, as there were all kinds of cultivars for sale throughout the convention. These, however, turned out to be free! We were all invited to take a double fan home with us. The cultivar I snagged was ‘Chasing the Dragon’ (Fass, 2014):
A good meal, a great talk, and free daylilies. A perfect ending to a great conference.
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