Well, the annual international convention of the Gesneriad Society is but a fond memory now, but what a great time we had! Philadelphia was the site for this years convention and the fast-paced week was full of fun, friends, and of course gesneriads! While I do love the plants, I always leave convention reaffirming that the chance to spend a week among friends who also love gesneriads is the best part, and this year was no exception. On the Petrocosmea front, Pets got their fair share of attention. I was overjoyed to see some of my own hybrids being grown and shown by others....a "high" that every hybridizer enjoys.
Petrocosmea 'Keystone's Bantam' won big this year and was selected 'Best Petrocosmea'. The plant was grown and shown by Richard and Nancy Carr of Ohio. An interesting story about this entry was that the classification committee almost didn't let Richard and Nancy show the plant as 'Keystone's Bantam', insisting that it was actually P. rosettifolia. I was asked to come over and help to sort out the confusion, which we did. The Classification Committee were simply unfamiliar with the characteristics of the hybrid, and honestly thought they were helping the exhibitor to correct some mislabeling. The distinction, when out of bloom, is that 'Keystone's Bantam' is significantly smaller in leaf and rosette size and a bit hairier than the species P. rosettifolia. A P. rosettifolia with that much leaf volume to the rosette would have been three times the size of the little plant that the Carr's were attempting to enter. The confusion was quickly cleared and the plant was entered. It did well in the judging too! I was as proud as the Carrs were, I think!
P. 'Keystone's Bantam' also showed up in the Photography classes, and performed well there too! Dale Martens did a very skilled job of photographing her little plant early one morning just as the sun was rising and casting a golden glow upon the little plant. She captured this in the photo and the judges recognized her skill by awarding her a First Place in the class and 'Best Photograph' for the Division. Dale, a dear friend of mine and my hybridizing mentor, kindly gave me the photograph after the show! I was touched by her generosity and the photo now hangs in a prominent place in my living room.
Mary Lou Robbins won a second place award for her needlework interpretation of a photograph from this blog, taken of my hybrid seedling P. forrestii x sericea. Mary Lou wrote some time ago asking for permission to use the photo in a craft entry, and this is the result. I loved it! She even used longer tufts of thread over the calyx lobes to mimic the hairiness of this hybrid. It was a First Place effort in my book Mary Lou!!!
Another friend, Paul Kroll, executed a wonderful design using a Petrocosmea sericea as a focal point in his design. The theme was Punxy Phil, the legendary ground hog from Punxsatauney, PA, who emerges each February 2nd to predict the arrival of spring according to whether or not he sees his shadow. This design required that hairy and fuzzy gesneriads had to be incorporated into the design. I loved this one! The pieces of slate at the base were intended to suggest Phil's shadow.
This photo, taken on the last evening of convention shows some of my dear friends and mentors in my gesneriad adventures. From the top left are Dr. Bill Price, Mary Lou Robbins, Ben Paternoster, myself. Middle row L to R are: Paul Kroll and Arleen Dewell. Front row L to R are: the legendary and beautiful Rosemary Platz, namesake of my first Petrocosmea hybrid, Karyn Cichocki, Dale Martens, and Jill Fischer. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner on our last evening together. Each of these people has taught me something about gesneriads over the years that I have known them. In all things in life, having mentors and friends is most important to success. I have been most fortunate to have lots of both. I wish the same for each of you.........