Visiting plant people in other countries (was: What's the deal with Hippeastrum arboricolum?)

Jane McGary
Fri, 23 Jul 2010 09:59:32 PDT
I completely agree with Lee Poulsen that one should try to visit 
other keen growers when traveling abroad. I've even been known to 
pull over and strike up a conversation with a gardener when I spotted 
a really unusual garden. For instance, when Terry Laskiewicz, the 
Dobaks, and I were in northern Chile a few years ago, we passed a 
startlingly unusual garden devoted mostly to cacti and succulents. A 
man was working in it, so we introduced ourselves, and he proved to 
be the owner and a landscape architect. He invited us to explore and 
photograph the garden. I also have no compunction about talking my 
way into the back lots of botanic gardens, where (often) the really 
interesting plants are kept by curators who are too underfunded or 
too afraid of theft to put them out in public.

I'm sure most of you also share my pleasure in introducing visitors 
to nearly areas where interesting native plants can be seen. It's 
great fun to see the reaction of someone from another continent on, 
for instance, first seeing a wild trillium or Lilium washingtonianum. 
It's about the way I reacted when I first saw wild crocuses.

The big problem is getting to the gardens. I've driven around alone 
in New Zealand and Australia, but I won't do so in England. (Have you 
ever attempted complex navigation while driving alone? Not fun -- 
especially if you're on roads with no place to pull over, not to 
mention driving a car from the right side and not being fully aware 
of where the left edge of the car is exactly.) My dream is that I 
might meet people who want to make a driving trip of, say, the great 
bulb collections of their native isle, in exchange for my driving 
them around some of the great plant sites of the US Pacific coast.

In default of private travel, which is really the best way to see 
almost any country, I can recommend the plant tours put on by 
Greentours. I'm planning to go on their "fall bulbs of Jordan" trip 
around the beginning of December. It was to be "winter bulbs" with 
Onco irises included, but has been rescheduled for some reason. 
Still, it would be worth it for the archaeological sites alone.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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