MRHS President's Message

Fall, 2017

The weather on that crisp fall morning in Davenport could not have been better for a day with Midwest hosta friends. The food was good, the vendors provided many choices, and the raffle attracted a great deal of interest from those in attendance. The feedback I received regarding the Fall Focus day’s events was positive. This was a new venue that the MRHS board had decided to try, as an alternative event for our long running Winter Conference (formerly the Winter Scientific Meeting).

A panel discussion provided ample time for those in attendance to share information about what works for them in their gardens. Topics included nematode control, vole control methods, deer deterrents, rabbit deterrents, overwintering hostas in containers, soil amendments, fall cleanup routines, and a host of other topics. Information about upcoming changes to the Hosta Registry site was also shared. Members can look forward to having photos added to the Hosta Registry site, show classification information being added, and the new online Hosta Locator, funded by the American Hosta Growers Association. Our keynote speaker, Ron Livingston, gave an informative and educational presentation on his methods of hybridizing. He shared practical, detailed tips on what has worked for him over the years. A member of FOOSF (the Fraternal Order of Seedy Fellows), he shared how he learned about hosta hybridizing and what factors he feels are important in successfully creating new and interesting cultivars. An emphasis on having fun with the hobby and using plants that are of interest to you was a focus of his message. Ron presented information at a level that was of interest to seasoned hybridizers, as well as those just beginning to adopt the hobby.

This inaugural fall event is under review by the MRHS Board. If you have any suggestions about changes, improvements, or other ideas about this event, please email your comments, mail, or telephone me. My contact information is at the end of this message. Your feedback is important. Do not hesitate to let us know what you liked, what you did not like, and any suggestions for what would have made this a better experience for you.

As you go about Fall cleanup in your gardens, harvest seeds for your hybridizing projects, and prepare for another season, remember to take time to reflect on the joy that your garden provided this past season. We sometimes get so involved in the work of our gardens that we do not pause to remember why we garden. This certainly has come to the forefront of my thinking as I have retired from active gardening. I now no longer have a garden of my own. After maintaining multiple acres of gardens for many years, I am retired to a high-rise building in downtown Chicago. While I no longer grow hostas, my appreciation for and interest in the genus has not changed. What has changed is that I no longer must do the physical labor involved in maintaining the gardens. I am fortunate to live across the street from a 319-acre park that is beautifully maintained by the Chicago Park District. On a recent walk through the park, I met the Superintendent of Operations for Grant Park. We had a wonderful conversation about "her" gardens. I planted the seed for her to think about expanding the Hosta gardens, and we exchanged email addresses. While I may no longer grow hostas myself, I can still be a force in promoting hostas in our community.

Those of you who help maintain public gardens know that your volunteer efforts are just as rewarding as is the enjoyment of your own private gardens. For several years, I helped maintain an AHS Display Garden in Peoria, IL. That task has been handed over to some very dedicated volunteers.

Next summer, that Illinois Central College garden, along with another public garden and many private gardens will be on the Midwest Regional Convention Tour. We hope that all of you can attend "Hostas Play in Peoria" July 12, 13, and 14. We will be meeting at the Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino in East Peoria. The local Central Illinois Hosta Society (CIHS) is putting together an event that you will not want to miss. Beautiful gardens, a Leaf Show, the Seed Growers Show, the auction, a convention gift plant (Hosta 'Playin' Peoria'), and multiple vendors will satisfy your every wish for Hostas. The Peoria area offers multiple venues for exploration of everything from professional Peoria Chiefs baseball to the Caterpillar Visitors Center, where you can operate simulators of many of the Caterpillar products. The Peoria Zoo, Wildlife Prairie Park, with its Bison and Elk herds, the Peoria Riverfront Museum, multiple restaurants and, of course, the Par-A-Dice Casino, for those of you inclined to wager, await your exploration. Most importantly, you will find the local members of the CIHS to be warm, welcoming, and helpful. We look forward to seeing you next July in Peoria, Illinois. Also, mark your calendar for 2019 to join us in Green Bay, Wisconsin for our first joint convention with the American Hosta Society.

Yours in the Friendship Plant,

Barry Ankney
MRHS President
330 South Michigan Avenue, Apt. 1902
Chicago, IL 60604-4352

To see the current newsletter, please join the Midwest Regional Hosta Society by contacting our Membership Chairperson or any of the Officers. Or, click here for a printable MRHS Membership Form. By joining the society, you will receive your own copy of our informative and entertaining newsletter.