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Aroid Extravaganza

We've just returned from the IAS summer Aroid Extravaganza, held last
weekend in Raleigh, NC. We had a great time.

Friday evening we got to see Alan Galloway's garden, a real treat. For
someone like me, who loves woodlanders, the old trees and high shade
produced a special envy. Alan has taken full advantage of it with a large
assortment of things both native and exotic. It would take too long to
describe adequately (and I probably overlooked a lot of interesting
plants), but believe me, it was impressive.

Saturday we started with a tour of Plant Delights Nursery, hosted by
proprietor Tony Avent and research director Petra Schmidt. There we
got to fully appreciate many (most) of the things we admire in the PDN
catalog by seeing them firsthand and hearing knowledgable comments about
them. We also saw many things being evaluated for the future that are
spectacular. I noted a number for which I'll be watching. I used most
of 256MB of digital film and could have taken several times as many
pictures. After tantalizing us for a couple of hours, we were turned
loose on the sales houses, and the carnage was impressive.

Then it was on to Randy Salter's, not a large garden but remarkable for
the number of things considered either not hardy or at best marginally
hardy which were growing, and growing very well. Raleigh is a full zone
warmer than my yard, so I was constantly impressed by what survives
there that won't for me, but even so Randy's garden was way out on the
curve. He also had things you should see in gardens more but for some
reason don't, like Cyrilla racemiflora.

After a short rest, it was on to the J.C. Raulston Arboretum, where we
had a few minutes to stroll before dinner. The after-dinner talk by
John Banta, operating two slide projectors in tandem like a pro, was
fascinating. The theme was basically "things that go dormant", of
special interest to me (non-tropical climate and limited greenhouse
space), and took us around the world to see a mouth-watering array
of tropicals that go dormant.

I see now that this was all carefully planned so that John's talk
would reawaken our plant lust, which was a bit dulled after dinner, in
time for Tony Avent to whip it to a fever pitch for the auction.

Tony served as the auctioneer. I can't possibly describe it except to
say that it was hilarious, he was a hoot, and that he sounded so
professional he clearly has an alternative career if he ever decides
to leave horticulture. He managed to entice people into a number of
indiscretions. I myself wound up with a 5 foot tall ensete entirely
inappropriate for car travel, and no doubt my climate as well.
Fortunately I was fast on my feet and able to grab one of the very
smallest of them .... and it does look nice in the yard. The phrase
"treat like a caladium" will always have special meaning for anyone

It was also, of course, a chance to see people we don't get to see
very often. It's easy to forget how much fun that is.

Lots of people were involved in making everything come together -
Tony, Stan Barone, and more - but Alan Galloway and Petra Schmidt
deserve a special cheer. They co-chaired the event and did a great
job - everything seemed to go like clockwork. Thanks again for all
your work.


-- Steve Marak
-- samarak@arachne.uark.edu

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