MAINE CHANCE - PART III
Day 4 was the day we were all waiting for... a visit with Currier McEwen.
The day - incredibly - dawned clear and bright and we arrived at 10 am in
brilliant sunshine! For those who don't know, Currier McEwen literally
'wrote the book' on Japanese Iris. He is a national treasure - 94 years
young - sharper than I am now and a hybridizer of great skill and humor.
Currier's garden is on a peninsula (or maybe a spit) into that beautiful
ocean so that there's ocean on both sides - and the crashing surf is the
ongoing background sound. We arrived to find Elisabeth eagerly awaiting us,
and Currier himself soon joined us. A more charming and precious couple does
not exist. They both have a marvelous ability to focus on your conversation
as though you were fascinating and brilliant and it's a pleasure to talk
with them. They each received a shirt and they both but them on immediately!
Currier has two gardens on his property... his introduced cultivars and his
seedling bed. Bertha has pretty much shredded anything that had been open,
but plenty of flowers opened through the day. One particularly interesting
Japanese JI was torn to pieces...but not so much so that you couldn't see
these fabulous feathered styles.. very much like the siberian style arms.
His cultivar "Maine Chance" was, sadly, not open...but Japanese Pinwheel was
putting on a display as was Popular Demand and a wonderful 6 fall pink
The point of our trip was to be able to appreciate Currier ... and that we
did. He was all over the property, even though his arthritis causes him to
require a guiding arm. He seemed to enjoy our company as much as we enjoyed
the absolute joy of being with him.
We took a short trip to Earthart Gardens... operated by Sharon Whitney who
introduces Currier's irises for him and helps out some in his own garden.
Sharon is a joy and I was quite taken by a Japanese JI (Heisun?) with is a
three fall blue - so full it appears to be a 6 fall. A star pattern radiates
down the fall, but is stopped by a wide rim. The entire flower is crimped.
Back to Currier's where a clambake was underway. We were soon feasting on
lobster and clams and homemade blueberry pie. The lobster and clams were
cooked in a heap of kelp and nothing has ever tasted better!
We were able to stay at Currier's all day - from 10 am to 4 pm - under a
cloudless sky and mesmerizing surf! He graciously autographed our books and
seemed to really be having a fabulous time. Currier has a wonderful little
house he calls the Chatterbox that Kathyguest is aching to sleep in. It's
perched on the very edge of the bluff overlooking the surf - and is only big
enough to hold two chairs, a small table and a bed - all oriented toward
large windows looking out on the sea.
>From Currier's, we spent a couple of hours in Freeport shopping and then
fell into bed.
Day 5, yesterday, included a stop at the Shafer/Sachs garden (Joe Pye
Weed's), which is another "to die for". Marty and Jan were a major garden
for the siberian convention and they warned us they didn't have any JI's.
But this is a gardener's garden and we were thrilled to be there. Marty and
Jan grow cut flowers for the Boston market and so there was lots of neat
things to see. But they also grow many specialty plants like mini astilbes,
variegated corn (!!!!), sweet peas, and grasses. A surprise stop after that
was to Blanchettes Nursery... an incredible specialty place where you can get
plant material you could only mailorder otherwise (at $5 and $9!!)... the to
Kimball's ice cream where we pigged out on $2 cones that were so loaded that
you had to flip them into a bowl (while John Coble made barnyard noises). A
fitting end to a wonderful trip. As we piled into the van for the long
return trip... the rain came back. We took a short stop in Albany at Melanie
Mason's, and back to Buffalo by 1 am.
We also took a test on the van - prepared by Donna Lowry - on Japanese Iris
and AIS. I don't know who won on the other van, but Hal Stahly won on ours
and received some stationary. As I told him, he SHOULD win, fergodsake.
I have to remark in closing that the best part of our trips is always the
folks! We have a wonderful time... we laugh, we learn, we socialize and we
grow. Everyone on the vans got along... and we ALL hated to see the trip