Gardening GlimpsesBy MRS. HERMAN MCKENZIE,
In our ADS convention diary, Saturday was an even busier day than Friday. It began promptly at 9 a.m. with a discussion with pictures by Frank Veul from the Netherlands. Frank is a special friend from the New Zealand trip, and we’ve connected at every convention.
I am interested in all that he has to say, because he’s an independent grower now, having put his son in charge of the business. He is quite an authority on tazettas and has visited Bill Welch in California. But he is free to take on projects such as trying to figure out a way for John Reed, the unparalleled grower of bulbs in the cold Central Region, who now is confined to a wheelchair and needs digging help, which he gets each year, (The Big Dig is happening as you read this) but also planning to plant and market his bulbs more efficiently, which Frans is well prepared to handle.
At 10 a.m. we were anxious to meet the newest star in the marketing of daffodils in our part of the world (and when you think globally, “our part” includes North America, the British Isles, and The Netherlands…Julie Hardy, who with her husband Dave, now grows more than 500 varieties of daffodils for sale at the family farm in Dromore. She was the sensation of the convention in Sacramento, and her picture was incredibly glamourous. In person, she wasn’t as overwhelmingly beautiful, but looked and sounded much younger.
Her husband Bill went to a daffodil meeting in Northern Ireland and met the renowned hybridizer Brian Duncan. Brian was thinking of retiring, but wanted his breeding stock to remain “in the trade”, and persuaded Nial Watson to buy his bulbs and sell them under the Ringhaddy Daffodils organization. Time got away and now Nial was thinking of retiring, so the Hardy farm, Esker Daffodils, is the newest star on our horizon.
She was rather softspoken, but she needs to get used to the fact that when she speaks, we are all going to be listening. Husband Bill ought to also accept the fact that he won’t be traveling much with her, as we are counting on their farm to supply the best of the recent (50 years is “recent” in the ADS) new advances in the British Isles which are there and nowhere else.
She is one of the most genuinely friendly, helpful people of her generation, and she’d just met me. But as I watched her say goodbye to Lisa and Michael Kudak, a lively pair of movers and shakers from the vibrant Midwest, I said to myself, “They are the heart now of the daffodil world.” I remember feeling that way about Kate Reade, the noted hybridizer from Cairncarn Daffodils, who just happened to become my personal friend. But that was long ago, and now those of us old timers who want to be a part of the current daffodil world need to realize this.
I’d swapped my cap for my traditional cold-day garb (and Saturday had turned bitterly cold.) With my New Zealand “possum sweater” and long scarf I’d acquired just for this day, I joined my seatmate from the New Zealand trip, Brent Heath.
While Brent was taking care of holding the bus’s luggage rack open, having sent Vicki back for the hotel’s wheelchair, I had an important conversation, though I didn’t realize it at the time.
Bonnie McClure, of Arkansas, said to me, “You don’t remember me,” and I assured her that I did, from the 2018 show in Memphis, and complimented her on her beautiful collections and her help in the overall judging. And I said, “You need to go tomorrow morning to Keith Kridler’s judges refresher course. The show in Memphis needs you.” “Not interested,” she said, “I don’t want to be a judge.” That’s a shame, I said.
Well, we got loaded, and I moved to the middle of the bus, where Brent had saved a seat. Later Sara Kinne said I was so glad to see your scarf, because it said New Zealand to me. And everybody who came by stopped, as if our being together with that Merino wool scarf suddenly meant we’d all be together in 2020. For the first time, I was thinking, “Maybe, just maybe, Vicki and I could go.”
This spirit was contagious. Lesley Ramsey, who was the power behind the leadership, if her college professor husband Peter, (now sadly caught in that terrible dementia,) would have admitted it. Lesley said, “I’ve been thinking. David Adams is planning a trip after the 2020 World Convention in Australia, coming over to Christchurch and doing a tour of South Island.”
Maybe, when he gets organized, I could plan something that starts in Auckland, before the trip to Australia.
Knowing Lesley, it would be wonderful. And everybody I talked to said yes, they’d save the date and start saving their money.
And so I said to Vicki, “Let’s just say we are going. And if New Zealand in 2020, let’s just say “Why not” to everything in between - fall meeting back in Cincinnati, 2019’s convention in Minnesota, (though somebody’s got to contribute skymiles).
Always the practical, Vicki said two things: “How do we handle the laundry on a trip like that?” and “We have to get one of those really good wheelchairs.”