August 15, 2019

National AHS Convention for Organic Fabrics

1987 Washington, DC AHS Convention – Bertie Ferris, who was in town around 1980 helping with a judges clinic, encouraging the members of the NCDC to host another AHS Convention. Bertie had visited the local gardens and felt it was time to do so. It had been 21 years since the club had hosted a national back in 1959.

Thus the convention was set for 1987 with Paul Botting and myself as co-chairman. For me it was a piece of cake since I had experiences with setting up many regional meetings as well the ’59 convention. Back in ’59 there were less than 50 members of the club. Some members did double duty and some of the key jobs were done by the “non-daylily spouse”. In 1987 the club had over 200 members with many gardens to choice from. The registration fee for the ’59 convention was $25 and for the ’87 it was $125.

There was no beltway in ’59, however there wasn’t any traffic problems then either. With the traffic problems today I don’t think the club could even think about having another convention. I don’t think that we could travel at all on Friday with the gridlock that occurs every work day.

I believe that the handbook that the club furnished for the convention was one of the very best ever done! Margo Reed was the handbook editor. Doris Simpson did the great art work with drawing of daylilies throughout the book as well as the cover. My contributions were the garden layout maps. The book is 119 pages with a complete cultivar index listing in the back as well as a garden by garden cultivar listing. If any of the future convention people would like to use this book I have a few extra copies.

My garden has been on the club’s annual garden tour almost every third year since 1958. So, to plan the changes that my garden needed to take place for the convention required very little except for the seedling beds. The only changes needed was to re-align part of the seedling beds for guest plants as well other new hems. This meant changing most of those beds from running east to west to becoming running north to south. This took about 3 years to do and another 3 years to undo, a real pain, but worth it since it keep the clumps in the borders intact. Most of the guest plants and their increases were later given to the club for sale.

I think that having the people, whose gardens you have been visiting for years, to come and visit your garden is exciting. Such as Van Sellers, Judith Weston, Sarah Sikes, Ruth & John Allgood, Ra Hansen, Clarence & Beth Crochet, Lucille Guidry, Elizabeth Salter & David Kirchhoff. Also my friend Lee Gates, who was later interviewed by the RVP’s-ROD’s at the hotel. At the head table I really enjoyed the friendships of Selma Timmons, Betty Roberts and Frances Gatlin. Several years earlier Betty Roberts had visited the DC area for several months and we had some great visitations at that time.

This convention was a sort of homecoming for Al Rogers of “Caprice Farm Nursery, Sherwood, Oregon” fame. He, at one time many years ago, had a sheep farm here in the county. George Coffee, a veterinary, whose garden was on tour, treated many of Al’s sheep at that time. Al Rogers told me later on, that he had sold over a hundred plants of my COUNTRY CHARMER ’86 & SMARTY PANTS ’75. I guess there are a few of my old hems still kicking around out there in the northwest.

We had lots of guest plants both in ’59 and in ’87. Guest plants in convention gardens sometimes can be a problem. A problem for both the sender as to the growing conditions and to the receiver as to shipping back the increase. My own view is to send guest plants with no return of any and let the increase be used for convention costs or whatever.

Both of these conventions the greater part of the guest plants remained for the use of the club and the tour gardeners. Myself, for the most part, only took guest plants that were shipped to me directly by my friends. Most of the gardens on tour had been purchasing lots of new organic clothes so the guest plants were just the icing on the cake. For a start-up cash flow the club borrowed $5000 from the AHS. The sale of the increases from the guest plants helped pay for some of the money borrowed. As well as the $5 grand the club donated to the AHS Editor Equipment/Color Fund. Frances Gatlin was in seventh heaven with this!

The convention was very hot and muggy and the rain held off until the very last person arrived back at the hotel. I have a large folder full of letters and cards I received from some of those that attended the convention. I will always treasure them! With them is a 12 page write-up about the convention in the Region Eleven Newsletter No. 3/4, 1987.

Ruth and I had a bit of a problem coming home from the banquet on Saturday night, oops I mean Sunday morning. I had missed my turn to go home from Virginia, thus as we were going up Connecticut Avenue in DC at 1:00 a.m., the alternator belt broke. At every traffic light the headlights dimmed, so when we got close to Ruth’s mother’s home in Chevy Chase we woke her up in order to trade cars. The last thing we needed is to have the battery die miles from home. We did want get a little bit of sleep before Sunday morning, since Ruth was serving brunch to whoever came [There was an ad in the handbook]. Dorothea Boldt was also due to arrive in the garden, since she was going to write it up for the AHS Journal.

Paul Botting and myself have the only gardens left from this meeting. My garden is on the club’s tour this year maybe for the last time [Jan Thompson says that I say that every time I’m on tour]. I will continue to hybridize the diploids as long as there is a garden to use. Just how many seeds I will plant is another thing. I have discovered lately that there are a few few daylily gardeners out there that only want the dips. They buy almost everything I offer. I decided many years ago that for me to hybridize the test would be foolish with the very limited space I have. Plus, it was too expensive. I’ve had more fun doing the dips!!

In addition, there is a large group of local gardeners [non-daylily] who visit me from time to time during bloom season to add to their small gardens. It all started about five years ago when the Washington Post had a small bit in their gardening section about a sale I was having [Ain’t free advertising great!]. Needless to say, I had 200 visitors that day and sold 200 hems. It was a real circus with people lined up following me around the yard going from one selling bed to another. They even bought some high priced items. I did get a lot of addresses that day. Boy, I sure was tired that night.

I guess this is the end, but later on I may have a something regarding my efforts to hybridize the dips.

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