Why Exhibition Shows Are Important for Hybridizers | Haiku Thursday

an empty canvas.
endless possibilities-
our fresh spring days!
- written in the elevator during the 2012 Winter Symposium 

Cincinnati was the place to be last weekend if you are crazy about daylilies.  Region 2 put on quite a party and as always, I came home inspired by people and plants.  So inspired that I could not resist digging and dividing 8 large clumps yesterday.  YES, in February AND in 50 degree weather. I made 29 divisions of those 8 clumps and potted them up for various events this spring.  I have really good luck digging established clumps late in the winter.  When potted, they produce a great mini-clump that is very attractive to newbies at farmers markets and street sales.  These 29 divisions should help pay for a new camera!
At the daylily symposium, I chatted with a fellow who is a daylily hybridizer with a high distaste for Daylily Exhibition Shows.  He knows that shows are kinda my thing (you can read many of my other show-related posts here) and wanted to talk about a presentation of mine called "World-Class Daylily Shows," during which I address the issue of hybridizers and shows.

In the presentation, it is my contention that many hybridizers stay far away from daylily shows, and that the American Hemerocallis Society and show organizers should do more to encourage their participation - in fact - we should roll out the red carpet for hybridizers who want to bring their creations to the show in either the named or seedling sections.  

The fellow who called me wanted to discuss and cuss some points I made during the presentation.  He wanted to hear what I considered the direct benefit to hybridizers making an effort to attend and enter shows.  "What should he do it?" - he asked.

I gave him the AHS position first and said that exhibiting in daylily shows allowed hybridizers to:

1.  exhibit their new cultivars as observed in the originating garden
2.  receive feedback from judges (who use a published scale of points) on their seedlings and introductions
3.  compete for major AHS awards
4. have winning cultivars and seedlings published in the Journal and in regional publications.
5. have their name and winning entries published on AHS websites and portals, including the AHS Awards and Honors pages.

He liked some of those points, rolled his eyes at others and argued that the return on investment for cutting a scape is too low for hybridizers to consider exhibiting.  I told him one scape is an easy sacrifice to make to see the public's reaction to your seedlings and introductions.  What is a better gauge for determining whether your seedlings "have a place" in today's semi-saturated daylily market?  Put them out there and see how the 100 or so passersby react to it.

He went on to say- "Well, you know most judges don't know what they're even looking at.  They haven't been out of their own yards, or outside of shows.  They're out of touch."  My only answer was to tell him to then do them a favor and show them whats going on in the hybridizer's gardens!  Take your seedlings in!  Talk to the judges after judging.  Stand by (in a non-stalker sort of way) and listen to what the visitors say (or don't say.)

Look at it as a captive focus group!  You get the benefit of a great evaluation and you don't even have to serve lunch!  Judges and show visitors are just more facets of the daylily community.  They have a special place and a great respect for the plant and the process of showing.

I'm still working on getting a show together here in southern Illinois.  Hopefully I'll have something good to report soon.

I hope you take the leap this year and show a scape or two.


Gardens at Waters East said...

Just found your Blog this morning. I too love daylilies. I have hybridized over 450. Self taught. Don't know what I am doing but it seems to work!!! I have posted some of them if you check out the archives for January 5-7, 2011. There are others that appear too but this is a series of postings I "created". It takes me about four years to get to this point. The new one to bloom this year should be spectacular. I used exceptional plants. We will see. I will be following your blog for more inspiration. Jack


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