Lesley Ramsay, New Zealand

New Zealand School Shows

October 16, 2010

Categories: Societies and groups, Youth

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Melissa asked me to send any comments on the School Projects to all.  So here is what I sent to Bill recently.  Peter

Hi Bill,

Yes, keep it simple with one bloom to a vase (or tube).  Our Challenge Class is for six varieties, one stem of each, six vases.  Then follows one trumpet, one large cup, one small cup, one double, one NOE.  All of these flowers come from a special patch at each school which are looked after by the children.  Regular visits to each school by the mentors is absolutely necessary.

Some of the children are doing their own hybridizing and collecting seed.  One School (Newstead) has collected seed which is being grown on by their teacher with the hope that one will be good enough to name for the School’s Centenary in six years time!  Graeme Miller is that school’s mentor and he has had a keen group of children to his home “patch” where they made crosses which Graeme will grow on for them (I think).  I have also had kids making crosses and taken sessions on breeding, including  the merits and demerits of line breeding (we live in a bloodstock breeding district – the Kentucky of the South).  The children make extensive use of the Net – Daffseek is, of course,  a favourite.   They used it extensively in an exercise on where daffodil names came from – this resulted in a beautifully prepared chart which we displayed at the Tulip and Daffodil Festival show.

 I have many lovely anecdotes to tell about what the kids said and did – my favourite is Graeme – a rather tough, rugby player aged 10 who was not impressed with the thought of growing flowers, and nor was he noted for verbosity. When we were planting the bulbs he stood back with his arms firmly folded.  Wanting to involve him, I said “Hey Graeme, these kids are getting tired can you do some spade work please?”  Could he what – I couldn’t get the spade away from him.  Gradually Graeme became more interested – he was particularly interested in what made up a good flower, especially as I developed a Rugby Union metaphor, based on ball shape,  to describe form.  When we were selecting blooms for the competition he said “Doc Ramsay, I think this one is pretty good!”  “Why do you think that Graeme?” I asked.  Looking at the flower carefully and with all the children watching and listening he delivered the following statement which left his teacher and me dumfounded – “ The colour is very clear”, he said, “good stem, no nicks, but the form is not quite right”  “Why”, I said, “what’s wrong with it ?”  “The petals are Ok” he said, “but those sepals are all different shapes!”  I exchanged glances with the teacher – both of us had incredulous looks on our faces – this was Graeme’s longest ever speech.  “Well done”, I said, “is it good enough for the Challenge Class?’  “Yep”, he said, flashing a glance at the other kids,” better than the ones they want”.  And so it went into the Challenge Class, staged personally by Graeme.

Now Graeme will never be a daff grower – he is more likely to become a top Rugby player.  But what it demonstrated is that our favourite flower can capture the attention of everyone, and the younger they are the better!  So go for it Bill, there will be a Graeme in your group!



3 responses to “New Zealand School Shows”

  1. Bill Lee says:
    Peter, thanks for pointing me to the NZ site and the school shows.
    I think we will try this locally and see what happens. The students seem very enthusiastic and this could be an effort well worth undertaking. I’m thinking we would start with single-stem entries, maybe 3-stems, and then watch it grow.
    Our local club has lots of daffodils to share and I’m giving them generously.
    I suspect as the children grow they will lose interest in such things. But we’re in the business of planting seeds, aren’t we? When these children are adults, I hope to see some of them be future members and leaders of our societies.
    Bill Lee
  2. Becky Fox Matthews, Tennessee Becky Fox Matthews says:

    Thanks for those comments, Peter. I have a similar story of a young boy whose family was checking out the show at a mall in Jackson, MS a few years ago. Tables were set up near the show for coloring daffodils, making tissue paper daffodils, and for flower dissections. The young man was not interested, until I mentioned that the dissection activity was actually SCIENCE and that got him interested. He wound up an ADS youth member with winning entries in the local show. Who knows if he will be involved as an adult, but you are right, we must plant those seeds.
    It sounds like Graeme Miller has a high level of involvement with his school and I’m sure that greatly increases the chances that these students will enjoy gardening and daffodils in their future.
    Thanks for the ideas! Becky Fox Matthews that daffy girl near Nashville
    — Becky Fox Matthews Educator/Special Projects Manager Adventure Science Center http://www.adventuresci.com
    1st Vice President American Daffodil Society, Inc. http://www.daffodilusa.org http://www.daffodilusastore.org http://www.daffseek.org Middle Tennessee Daffodil Society http://www.daffodiltn.org

  3. Peter and Lesley Ramsay says:

    Hello All,
    Yes, Graeme is doing a great job, and so too, are our other Tutors, Ian Hook and Robin Hill. We are into the “wrap-up” part of the annual project – one more visit to the Schools to talk to the children and more importantly at this stage the teachers. The tutors will do an evaluation (probably informally at the Club’s Xmas Party) before a meeting with the four Principals to plan next year’s project. One of the beauties of this project is that the four Schools are in a “cluster” and meet regularly – this makes administration of the Challenge much easier. We also chose “country” schools as most of the children who attend the School live on farms or “life-style” blocks so they have enough ground available to grow some daffs at home.