Beginners – a long personal story

January 26, 2010

Categories: Daffodil Enthusiasts, General

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From my experience, catalogs with cheap growable and showable daffodils is a good way to turn a gawker into a shower.  Brent and Becky catalogs went pretty fast at the Chicago show last year – people I talked to were impressed by Rapture on the winners table and excited when they found out they could easily buy it.  The pretty pictures were obviously a draw, but people were also interested in the picture-less Oakwood and Burdick catalogs.  There weren’t any catalogs at all left past the second morning.

When I wandered into a Columbus daffodil show in 1996, the only catalogs I had were Brecks and a couple of their look-alikes.  I thought I had all the daffodils there were in the world – 32 – so the show was quite an education.  Thinking back, I was at the show because of a notice in the what-to-do-this-weekend section of the newspaper, so publicity counts, too.

The info table had some sample catalogs.  I was given an Oakwood catalog which had a long list of bulbs for $3 each.  I ordered 3.  (Come on, $3 for a single bulb???  with no pictures?)  Dr. Reed included 2 freebies with this tiny little order.  Everything flourished and I was on my way to obsessive collecting disorder.  There was a long germination period – I didn’t enter my first show until 2005, where I got ribbons!  and a note praising my “many beautiful flowers!”  (That note is still in my important-papers file, with marriage certificate and diplomas.)  This was the first and only show in Charleston WV so we were all beginners.  There wasn’t a lot of expert help but there wasn’t any expert intimidation either – probably balanced out.  I found out about this local show because a question on how to grow seeds led me to Mary Lou, which led me to DaffNet, which led to a lot of things.

There’s certainly another long path leading to that one and only Charleston show occuring, but I don’t know what it was, just that it had to involve a lot of work.  Here’s a belated thank you – it was wonderful fun.

So my path was a predisposition to daffodils, a publicized show, a catalog with (cheap) high-quality bulbs, good experience with the merchant, exposure to a friendly community via the web, and gentle treatment at my first show.  That’s a long path with a lot of critical steps, but missing any one of them would probably have dropped me out of the show game.  Of them, I think the first exposure to a show was the most important and the easiest to influence – pounce on people walking in just to view a show and shove catalogs at them.  Being friendly probably helps, but having that catalog is vital.

Kathleen Simpson
Gandeeville, WV, where there’s a light covering of snow and more coming down

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