Donating collections

Michael Mace
Sat, 24 Dec 2011 21:29:24 PST
Randy asked:

>> what happens to my collection when I am gone?

Good question, and I think very appropriate at this time of year when many
of the world's cultures exchange gifts.

If a botanical garden wants to accept someone's collection, I think that's
worth a try.  But there are also things that we as private growers can do.
If you can no longer take care of a collection, you should pass it on to
others.  The PBS list is a great way to coordinate that.  Just post a
message and ask if anyone's interested.  If they are, great.  If they
aren't...well, you did your best.  But chances are someone will take at
least some of your babies.

I've seen this in action in three different ways over the years, and all had
pretty happy outcomes:

--Back in the 1990s, a Nerine grower named Jack Zinkowski passed away in
Oregon.  He had one or more greenhouses full of Nerine cultivars, and left
no heirs.  Steve Vinisky of the International Bulb Society organized a
rescue, and the bulbs were distributed to a number of IBS members.  Mine are
still growing well a decade later.

--When noted Amaryllis breeder Les Hannibal was moving away from his home,
he invited PBS members to some dig surplus bulbs that were growing in the
back yard.  We descended like friendly locusts, and as a result his bulbs
were spread all over the place, including my backyard, where I have about
100 selections from his bulbs.

--Just this last year, a PBS member decided that he was getting too old to
care for his South African bulbs.  He asked if anyone would take on his
collection, and I volunteered.  This summer I drove up to his place and
picked up about 100 pots of bulbs, which he gave to me for free.  But I had
to make a promise in return: when I get to the age when I can't take care of
the pots any more, I have to pass them along to someone else.  I view that
as a very serious duty, and I hope when the time comes I'll have the
integrity to handle it the way he did.  (I hope I'll also have kept his
stuff alive!  So far, so good.)

Anyway, I think he set a great example: treat your collection as something
you have custody of, not something you own.  And when the time comes, use
the PBS to hand it on.

San Jose, CA

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