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Here's what I'd like to contribute to your next Q & A Column for the Journal, 
from my experience down in Falls Church recently.  Feel free to send me any 
edits you feel may be necessary...  Best wishes, Dave

AHS Journal Article...

Question: How difficult is it to enter the Cut Leaf Show at the AHS National 
Convention?  (Or any Hosta Cut Leaf Show for that matter...) 
Answer: The answers to that question will be as different as Night and 
Day...it all depends on who you ask.  For some, it's a very time consuming and 
serious matter of preening their plants for days or weeks ahead of time, supplying 
just the right amount of sunlight or fertilizer formula to bring out the best 
color, and protecting the plants from pests at all costs to insure only the 
best leaves for display.
    I on the other hand, waited until a couple of hours before it was time to 
leave for my seven hour ride to the Convention, before I chose to collect a 
few leaves and participate in the Contest.  That meant I chose not to fuss with 
them ahead of time and instead select only the best from what I had to work 
with.  Of course that meant I made several scouting trips throughout the garden 
to select two of the best leaves from the 25 clumps I chose to enter from the 
several hundred I had to work with.  
    The weather that morning turned out to be perfect, with a cool breeze and 
gentle rain just beginning to fall so the leaves were nice and turgid as well 
as being relatively clean to begin with.  The pairs of leaves were carefully 
selected by taking into account mature size, optimum color, no apparent pest 
damage and the cleanest leaves possible.  For unregistered sports or seedlings, 
two leaves are required for each entry.  For all the others, I was able to 
select the best leaf, by holding them up to the sky and determine which leaf had 
the fewest imperfections.
    I was then left with the choice of how to transport them in the freshest 
condition possible.  I discovered that some people simply put them in tall 
buckets but I chose to place each leaf stem into its own vial of water using the 
florist water tubes that came with the last two dozen roses we received.  Each 
leaf got a fresh cut and was then inserted into its tube and then it was 
gently placed into the 50 quart picnic cooler I selected for the seven hour trip 
south.  One large ice pack was placed in the bottom of the cooler first and 
covered with newspaper to help keep the leaves cool while they were being 
    They arrived in great condition and by 7:00pm when the entry room opened, 
they were still looking nice and fresh as they were pulled from the cooler 
and spot cleaned for entry presentation.  Never having entered a contest before, 
I was amazed by how much time some people took to prepare their leaves for 
entry.  There were spray bottles and Q-tips for cleaning as well as an 
assortment of towels and sponges for just the right finishing touches.  
    The plant entry cards also needed to be completed thoroughly with all the 
pertinent information, including the proper class and section for each leaf.  
For "Newbies" like myself, there was a classification person there with their 
lap top computer to look the necessary information up.  Next time I'll 
definitely bring a supply of small return envelope address labels to use on the 
entry cards to speed the process up.  Then after the cards were completed, it was 
time to put each leaf into its own crystal type bud vase for display.  
    I quickly learned that one does not simply drop the leaf into the vase 
and hope for the best.  Instead, each leaf is carefully inserted and then a ball 
of cotton is stuffed down into the vase around the stem to hold the leaf 
perfectly upright.  Each leaf then gets one last touchup to remove any remaining 
spots and then its passed on for placement in the right section and class by 
one of the assistants. 
    Of course some of the people that spent many more hours getting their 
leaves ready than I did, ended up winning more first place blue ribbons than I.  
I think I did really well overall as I entered 19 leaves for competition and 
walked away with 17 ribbons, including one Best of Class.  This simply shows 
that even a "Newbie" like myself can walk away a real winner and have a good 
time with the whole experience at the same time!   I hope what I have shared with 
you will encourage more of you to get involved in a Cut Leaf Show either on a 
local or national basis at your earliest convenience.  It is a lot of fun and 
can be a very rewarding experience at the same time!       
    Best wishes, David L. Jennings, cofounder and first president of the 
Upstate New York Hosta Society.

In a message dated 06/27/2003 12:57:14 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
gw1944@vermontel.net writes:
> Hi All,
> Hot here in Vt. 96, but who'd look at the temp.  Several of you (4)
> indicated that you would try and write something about your experience at
> the National Covention this year for the Q and A column for THJ. I am not
> naming names yet (:-)) but I am hoping that you could get these to me
> within the next week. Bobbi and I have a deadline and I am looking fowrad
> to hem. This still goes for anybody who went and thinks that he or she
> might have some personal persepctive on the experience. Many thanks. glen
> "Did you lock he door?" From the movie "The Thing". The one with James 
> Arness.
> Glen Williams
> 20 Dewey St.
> Springfield , Vermont
> 05156
> Tel: 802-885-2839 

David L. Jennings
20 Pine Street
Scotia NY 12302-2810
Cofounder and First President of the Upstate NY Hosta Society
Owner of Glenville Gardens, Popular and Exotic Hostas
Open by appointment only by calling us at (518) 393-0905 
You may also make an appointment via E-mail

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