2007 Convention (Miami, FL)

Hot Gesneriads in Cool Miami

Excitement, surprises and magical memories – that was the Gesneriad Society’s 2007 Convention in Greater Miami, July 3-7. Our home base was the Miami Airport Hilton, which sits on a peninsula in a beautiful lagoon across the water from the airport. Here we had lectures, workshops, meals, our Flower Show, and plant sale.

Wednesday was the annual Judging School, with an opportunity to take the judges test for those who needed it. That evening, the Gesneriad Hybridizers Association Meeting had its annual meeting on with a fascinating lecture by local member Thad Scaggs on his experiences with breeding Episcias.

On Thursday we headed to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, traveling through Coral Gables to Old Cutler Road, getting a rare look at old Miami. At Fairchild we saw extraordinary palms, lush bromeliads, orchids, flowering trees and vines, and even a few gesneriads. From the large and colorful library and gift shop, we boarded a tram for a guided trip through the garden.

After our tour of Fairchild, we took a short twenty-minute ride to Palm Hammock Orchid Estate, a working commercial pot and landscape nursery owned and worked by Tim and Anne Anderson. The whole nursery is covered by shade screen and tree tops and there are chairs, benches and tables throughout the nursery. Many people purchased plants and cuttings of gesneriads and other tropical plants.

That afternoon and evening were the Flower Show Setup and the opening of the Plant Sale. Flower show judging took place Friday Morning.

By popular request, there were four lectures at Convention, two on Friday and two on Saturday. Also by popular request, the lectures included basic cultural information useful for novice as well as experienced growers.

Tim Anderson (an established grower of gesneriads and other tropical plants including orchids and begonias and the owner of Palm Hammock Orchid Estate in Miami) presented the first Friday program on the topic “Gesneriads in South Florida,” with information on growing gesneriads in the garden.

This was followed by a panel on “How To’s,” which included “Packing for Travel” by Glenn Barnes (who has no problem traveling with his plants), “Propping the Leather-Leaved Chiritas” by Peter Shalit (hybridizer of Chirita ‘Vertigo,’ ‘Nemesis,’ ‘Nimbus,’ ‘Souvenir,’ and ‘Piccolo’, who cuts leaves into wedges for propagation) and “Propagation of Rhizomatous Gesneriads” by Tim Tuttle (who grows gesneriads to “de-stress” and keep balance in his life, and propagates his plants in stacked sweaterboxes).

Friday evening was our annual Banquet, with Flower Show Awards.

Saturday, July 7th began with Ron Myhr (founder and maintainer of The Gesneriad Reference Web) giving a general overview of “Gesneriads Around the World” with an explanation of how the gesneriad family fits into the plant kingdom, and many pictures of typical gesneriad habitats and plants growing in the wild.

Later in the morning, Karyn Cichocki (winner of numerous Best in Design ribbons) discussed and demonstrated “Terrariums – Creating an Interesting Landscape Plan.”

Saturday Lunch was the time for our annual Auction of rare plant material, which netted several thousand dollars for the Elvin McDonald Research Endowment Fund.

Convention activities concluded on Saturday evening with a trip to Pinecrest Gardens (the former site of Parrot Jungle) and a delicious buffet dinner accompanied by a steel drum band.

Future Conventions

July 1 – 6, 2008
Denver, CO – Hosted by the 3Gs Chapter at the Doubletree Hotel, Denver
Washington, DC – Hosted by the National Capital Area Chapter
Vancouver, BC, Canada – Hosted by the Vancouver African Violet and Gesneriad Society