Monday, March 22, 2010

The First Show of Spring

The first gesneriad show of Spring! What better way to welcome Spring than to spend a weekend among plants and friends. And if those plants are gesneriads, even better. AND, if those gesneriads are PETROCOSMEAS then it's joyful indeed! I was priveleged to spend my first days and the first weekend of Spring among wonderful friends and wonderful gesneriads while attending the annual spring gesneriad show of the African Violet and Gesneriad Society of Western New York, held in Buffalo, NY. I have attended and judged this show for the past three or four years and it is always a superb time. This year was no exception.

While driving up to Buffalo from Pittsburgh, the promise of Spring was dampened somewhat when I approached Lake Erie near the borders of northwestern Pennsylvania and Southwestern New York. In the photo above, those white clouds in the background behind the vineyards are NOT CLOUDS...but the still-frozen Lake Erie!
Of course, once I arrived at the show, the frozen lake was a faint memory as the abundance of skillfully grown gesneriads took over my visual senses. I love, and grow many plants, many gesneriads too, but my heart always draws me to the Pets! The show this year has number of beautiful Petrocosmea among the entries. This year, I was able to both judge the show as well as enter some of my own gesneriads. I brought three of my new hybrids to enter in the class for "New Gesneriads". The only collection in the show, pictured above, was a spectacular collection of Petrocosmea hybrids and species grown by a master Pet grower...Paul Kroll. His collection won a first place award...not because it was the only collection, but because it also scored greater than 90 points. When exhibiting a collection, the pressure is on the exhibitor to showcase several well-grown plants that show the diversity among the plants within the genus. Pauls collection did a nice job of doing both. I felt that the choice of brown fabric complimented the green plants well.

The Petrocosmeas grown for the ornamental qualities of the foliage had a nice representation as shown here. The public was repeatedly drawn into the table with the Petrocosmea entries. For some reason, the foliar habit of Pets seems to mesmerize people.

A nice surprise this year was that an eductional exhibit entry also showcased some recent and ongoing work studying the Phylogenetic relationships of the species within the genus Petrocosmea! This exhibit was presented by a professor from Niagara University and showcased work being done there. I was quite familiar with the work as I have been honored to have been a small part of it through contributions of plant material, hybridizing data, and morphological information. The authors of the work are hoping to finish the study this year.

One of my entries, a selection of my hybrid cross between P. sericea and P. minor veined leaf form named P. 'Keystone's Bluejay' was honored with a first place award as well as selection for Second Best in Show! The comments and feedback from the judges were quite kind and welcomed. I was very excited to see such enthusiastic support and appreciation for my new hybrids. This is the only plant selected and named so far from that cross, which flowered last year. I have kept four other plants for further evaluation. Judges loved the silvery curls in the center of this plant. I was able to make several distributions of leaves from this plant, and hopefully, will see others exhibiting it in the near future.
The show had a number of spectacular gesneriads, designs and natural gardens. The artistic section of the show was especially nice this year. Petrocosmeas showed up in several of the natural gardens and terrariums this year too. It is great to see a growing interest in my favorite genus.