Jim's moment of glory

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@jimmckenney.com
Mon, 13 Jul 2009 08:04:58 PDT
Lilies have been one of my most ardently pursued horticultural
divertissement for decades.  I’ve been a judge for lily shows for about a
quarter of a century. I’m not a competitive grower: I try to show lilies
when I have good examples, but I’ve never been the sort to study show
schedules and strategize in preparation for the shows. It’s easy enough to
develop an eye for what will bring a blue ribbon (first place in our shows),
and with that in mind, it’s easy to know what to show and what to leave in
the garden. 


But beyond the world of blue ribbons, there is the upper atmosphere of the
major awards made at each show. Competition for these awards is keen in some
circles. These awards are generally drawn only from stems which have already
won blue ribbons, and the judging teams sometimes have a lot of trouble
coming to a consensus for these awards. I’ve judged at shows where repeated
votes by the judges were taken before a tie-breaking vote was given. 


Last weekend I participated in the annual show of the Mid-Atlantic Lily
Society at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. I was officially there as a
judge, but because of the late date of the show and the concern of the show
committee that there might not be many stems on exhibition,  I took a likely
blue ribbon stem from the garden with me. 


When I entered the exhibition hall, I gasped: there were plenty of lilies
there, and a quick glance suggested that the majority of them were very good
lilies indeed. If you have not seen modern lilies, you’re missing something.
They are huge: a dozen well grown stems will create a mass of color and
occupy the space of dozens of the older Asiatic hybrids. 


I helped judge that part of the show which did not include my lily. I then
left the exhibition hall while my lily was being judged. When I returned, I
got a nice surprise: yes, I got that blue ribbon, but that lily was also
awarded the Longwood Award for  Best in Show. 


For some of you, this perhaps reads as a long braying session on my part.
Let me put it into context: this is the first time in a lifetime of
exhibiting lilies that I have gotten a best in show. Part of the message
here is that if I can do it, anyone can. 


When I got home, I celebrated by going out into the garden and gathering up
as many lily anthers with fresh pollen as I could find. I then smeared the
lily pollen all over my ordinarily silver gray hair  - this turned my hair a
brilliant golden tint and gave the skin of my scalp the aura of a gilded
Apollo. What a hoot! My companions of the evening thought I was crazy.   


You can see the stem here:





Jim McKenney


Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone

My Virtual Maryland Garden http://www.jimmckenney.com/

BLOG! http://mcwort.blogspot.com/


Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 

Editor PVC Bulletin http://www.pvcnargs.org/ 


Webmaster Potomac Lily Society http://www.potomaclilysociety.org/







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