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[Aroid-l] My First IAS Show


I wanted to weigh in on my impressions of my first ever IAS Show and Sale. As it happened I was to be in south Florida for other purposes and decided to come to the show. My goals were to see the show, hear Leland, have Julius teach me how to say "chubas", and to generally get the feel of this organization I only know from Aroid-L and the newsletters. All of these goals were met. As an added feature, I brought along with me a friend-since-childhood from semi-nearby Delray Beach (curiously also named Ted - we were the two Teds) who was not even a plant person, much less an aroid fancier. And such was the event that even the non-plant person had a terrific time.

We arrived too late to experience the show part of the meeting and too early for the banquet. We wandered around looking for some IAS authority and found a darkened room filled with an assortment of display plants. We could see through the gloom that some were obviously rare and attractive. Others were not so obviously rare, but were also attractive. The quality of the plants was very high.

We continued our perigrinations for a bit until we saw two individuals outside the display. "Would either of you happen to be aroid people?", I asked. We were immediately warmly received by who we found out were Ron Weeks and Derek Burch. Ron and Derek then took us back into the darkened display area, switched on the lights, and gave us an enthusiastic tour, with commentary.

Pretty soon it was time to begin assembling for the banquet. We bought a second ticket for my guest and made our way to the designated room accompanied by Ron and Derek. After a little chitchat with other folks Ron came in again and ushered us into The Presence. There he was, the famous Julius Boos, looking faintly like an off-duty Santa.

I was bold. "OK, Julius, say it for me: chubas." "Chubas, mon!," he said, with a hearty laugh. We then related the heartwarming chubas story to my friend, who turned out to live less than a mile from where Julius works. The world is filled with coincidences.

Then Julius spirited me back into the display area to show me a special Philodendron and a few other aroids of interest to him, some with chubas, some without. Julius, in case you know him only from the list, is an ebullient person and has a ready manner with newcomers to the art of plants. Come to think of it, Julius is that way in his writing as well.

Next it was a treat for me to meet and speak with Steve Lucas. I have been a fan of his postings and in person he is just as intense and articulate as he is on-line. I suppose it's a compliment to reveal that he is older in person than I expected. He has a muscular writing style that made me think he was maybe in his 30s. As it is he is a seasoned person with the clarity of wit of a younger man.

Then came Leland Miyano, the featured speaker and traveller from afar. Leland was embarrassed, I think, to hear that his speaking was one of the main motivations for my coming to the show. But he did not disappoint me. His slides and narration were a thing to experience and worth the trip all by themselves. The range of topics drifted from aroids many times. I wanted to be back on the internet where they have those little highlighted words that you can click on to receive more information. Fossil moa birds from Hawaii. Click. Rare palm trees rediscovered. Click. The completely unexpected section along the Atlantic coast of Brazil, where the sun bakes down on what we would call badlands. Click. Unknown aroids that survive this climate that would mummify a person in two hours. Click. Frogs that ooze foam and make one delirious. Click. Roberto Burle Marx. Click.

My plant-innocent friend found Leland's presentation tremendously entertaining.

It was unfortunate that I didn't budget more time to visit. But I had to be off first thing the next morning to the Florida gulf coast. While there I was inspired by Leland to find a few new aroid species on my own. What's the big deal?, I wondered. Leland made it look easy. So off I went into some of Florida's many overgrown areas, fully expecting to make a name for myself with at least one species new to science. But lo, it's harder than it looks. After a couple of hours I did manage to come across some Pistia. But I am doubtful that they would be of interest to Dr. Croat. They appeared to be the same Pistia found everywhere in Florida by the ton. Let me know if I'm wrong; I still know how to find them again. I also found a small cluster of palms I was sure was a new species. But I mentally channelled Julius and he informed me by telepathy that they were plain palmetto palms. Like I said, it's not as easy as it seems.

At least I avoided the wonderful stingless bees that seem to have been a favorite of Leland when in Brazil. Or maybe it's more accurate to say the Leland was a favorite of the bees.

I have some resolutions I can recommend to others. Maybe you have thought about attending but wonder how someone not at the A-list level of aroid horticulture might be received. First, you will be welcome regardless of your experience. Second, plan to spend some time in the exhibit area as well as the banquet and auction. If you are curious and have questions, this is where to get answers. Also, the breadth of plant knowledge extends to beyond aroids. People at the show seem to know about lots of kinds of plants. Third, bring a plant. If you have several, bring them for the show and to donate for the auction. Especially if the plant is weird or unusual you won't find any better audience than this. Fourth, bring some money and bid on some rare plants or buy them from the helpful vendors.

And for those of you that are not members, join the IAS.

Ted. The one from Detroit.
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