Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lily Show Season 2010, part 2, more silver

If you have never entered a competitive flower show, you can have no idea of how stressful, comically stressful, it can be. The flowers develop at their own pace. Good planning will place the show date at a propitious time, but variable weather can play all sorts of tricks on the aspiring entrant.

As the date for the show approaches, the grower keeps a nervous eye on his best stems. Should the weather turn unusually cool, the best stems might not be open in time for the show. More likely in our climate, unseasonably hot weather will push the plants into bloom too soon. Small stems can be kept in the refrigerator for a while, but many modern lilies are so big they will not fit into the home refrigerator, even an empty refrigerator. And a day or two at 90ยบ F plus temperatures will ruin the flowers for show purposes.

Our home show, the show of the Potomac Lily Society, took place last weekend. As the show date drew near, one particularly huge lily in my garden seemed just about ready to go. It had Best in Show written all over it: the plant in the garden was approaching nine feet tall, there were over two dozen buds, all arranged perfectly.

I was really feeling the pressure. If the plant did not bloom in time for our local show, the next show was two weeks away. There is no way I could keep such a huge stem in show condition for two weeks.

Meanwhile, there was another lily about to bloom which I intended to take to the show. My first idea was to take it just to let people see it and not enter it into competition. That lily was a pot grown plant of Lilium canadense, a form with a beautiful red flower. It came into bloom a week before the show, and I put it into the refrigerator right away. Although this species is native to Maryland, very few people have ever seen it. I blogged about it here:

I was up and about early on the day of the show. The huge lily on which I had based my hopes was just beginning to open a first flower. The rules require that at least one bloom be open to its typical form for the stem to be judged. At 6:30 A.M. this one was not ready. Nor was it ready at 7:45 when I left for the show.

So I resigned myself to taking my “show and tell” lily with me and abandoning almost all hope for my best Best in Show candidate.

At about 10 A.M. I dashed home for one last look: had it opened enough to show? No, it had not.

As a member of the show committee, I had a lot to do the morning of the show. I was helping with staging, classification and judges. I was so busy I was not paying much attention to everything else going on around me. I decided to enter my “show and tell” lily into the show in the pot class. About twenty minutes before the judging started, a friend mentioned to me that I should check my entry for “livestock”. I did. Oh my gosh: my pot lily which had been in the refrigerator for a week was filthy with aphids: hidden on the underside of each leaf, they coated the under surface in their huddled masses. I worked as quickly as I could to remove all traces of them. At one point they seemed to be everywhere – on the lily, on the table, on me. But I got the job done – and just in time.

When the judging started, I took a break and faded into the background. I didn’t pay any attention to the judging, although at one point I did take a quick look and noticed what seemed to be a blue ribbon beside my show and tell lily.

After the judging was over, people began to come up to me to congratulate me. I though they were congratulating me for the blue ribbon. Then I went over to the awards table to take a look: there was my little pot lily, thoroughly beribboned, standing tall as Best in Show! I still can’t believe it.

In 2008 one of our members, Kathy Digges, donated a huge silver tray to the society to be awarded to the exhibitor winning Best in Show. Kathy did not live to see the tray awarded for the first time in 2009 to my friend Kathleen Hoxie. The tray will be engraved, showing my name as the winner for 2010. That's it in the image above (and as you can see I did not compensate for the light).

And the lily on which I had showered all my hopes in the weeks leading up to the show: it’s blooming now outside my bedroom window. I’ll post more about that one later.

1 comment:

Lily said...

I have enjoyed readng your post. Congratulations!