Saturday, June 8, 2019

2019 APS Best in Show Peony 'Noma Volz' Awarded to First Time Grand Champion Winner, Mike Miller

Mike Miller with his First Ever Grand Champion
Peony 'Norma Volz'

It was an exciting day on the show table all around with many entrants on the Court of Honor this year that may not have been the usual suspects. The same was true for the winner of the whole show - both the flower and the entrant. Mike Miller of Great Seal Peonies won the top honor for the first time ever at the 2019 APS Flower Exhibition this year. Peony 'Norma Volz' was the flower that won him the honor, eliciting three ribbons - a 1st place Blue Ribbon, a Court of Honor Rosette (light blue) and the Grand Champion Rosette (purple). You can tell by the look on his face how thrilled he was, and I couldn't have been more happy for him. It really is nice to see new winners on the Court of Honor and for the Grand Champion of the show. Peony 'Norma Volz' was also a first time Grand Champion, as this peony variety had never before won the show's top honors - until now! Congratulations to Mike with his prize winning show flower, Peony 'Norma Volz'!

Peony 'Norma Volz'
2019 APS Best in Show / Grand Champion

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

2019 APS Treasurer and First Time Entrant Wins 2 Court of Honor Ribbons & Best Novice Specimen Rosette in the American Peony Society Flower Exhibition

Kris Wins Novice Best Specimen on the APS Court of Honor
Peony 'Age of Victoria'

As I examined the final selections on the American Peony Society Court of Honor this year, my heart leapt with excitement as I found that Kris had won a spot in the top honor of the entire flower show! I practically ran to find her and bring her back to the table at the front of the show. I think I might have been more excited than she was! Her Peony 'Age of Victoria' won a blue 1st place ribbon for its class, the Best Pink Hybrid Court of Honor rosette and the Novice Best Specimen rosette!!! 3 Ribbons! Wow!!! I think she was surprised that she had placed a flower in the Court of Honor - the best of the best flowers in the whole show! Little did she know another surprise awaited her...

Kris Wins 2 APS Court of Honor Ribbons
Tom & Kris with Peony 'Coral Scout'

As Kris was chatting with friends and fellow APS members about placing a flower on the Court of Honor, I decided to go over the rest of the table to see who else placed a flower there. I was surprised and excited to find another flower with her name on it, Peony 'Coral Scout', which won a blue 1st place ribbon in its class and the Best Coral Hybrid Court of Honor rosette. So not only had she placed a flower on the Court of Honor on her very first show, she had placed 2 flowers on the Court of Honor on her very first show! What an achievement!!! I could tell her husband, Tom, was very proud of her, and so were her entourage and fellow APS members - Deb and I!

Kris with Her Entourage
Adriana, Kris, & Deb

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

2019 Pay It Forward, Helping a Peony Exhibition Newbie at the APS Convention

Me, Deb, & Kris

This photo really captures the heart of the convention for me this year. I feel so proud to have spent so much time with the two ladies in this photo, working alongside them, getting to know them better, and teaming up to help Kris enter her first ever peonies into the 2019 American Peony Society Convention Exhibition. Kris has tirelessly served as the APS Treasurer for years, but had yet to enter any of her own peonies into the APS flower show. Since her garden was on tour this year, and she was a convention co-chair (she was just a tad busy), she hadn't thought much about entering any flowers into the show.

Kris Trimming a Peony
Kris in Her Garden

So that's where we came in. With just a little coaxing from Deb and myself, Kris agreed to enter some peonies into the exhibition. As long as we were a team, and she had a bit of guidance from someone who'd entered before (me), she was ready. I couldn't help but think of all the help that Mike & Becky Koster gave me at my first peony show. Without their help, I don't think I would have made it! They were the ones who guided me on how to get those tight peony buds to open - steam baths and field trips outside in the sun, 2015 American Peony Society Exhibition Preparation. I will be forever grateful to them for their help, dedication, and encouragement to me. So in some small way I was able to pay it forward to help Kris enter her first peony show. Somehow the joy you get from helping others succeed can touch you more deeply than your own success.

Kris Taking a Photo of a Peony Before She Cuts It

Kris was a hoot in the garden. At first she didn't want to cut any of the peony flowers. (I think she secretly really liked them better on the bush.) ;-) Eventually we were able to convince her to start cutting some. She did take a photo of each one and apologize to them before she cut them. I think this really illustrates her kind-heartedness. :-) By the time we had finished cutting peonies for the show, she had really gotten the hang of it, and wanted to cut even more. I think we trained her well, and she will be ready for next year's peony exhibitions. We ended up with quite a nice haul, and surely some ribbon-worthy peony blooms.

Kris Checking Out Potential Peonies

Show Flowers for the Peony Exhibition

Monday, June 3, 2019

2019 American Peony Society Convention Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden Tour

It was a rainy day for the public garden tour of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. I guess it was better to have the hot sunny day for the personal garden tours than the rain. Save the rain for the public garden tour since you could in theory always visit it again later. There were a few APS members with umbrellas for the sun the day before, but many more members with umbrellas on this rainy day, plus ponchos and waterproof jackets to keep the rain at bay. The rain was steady, but at least it wasn't a downpour. Luckily, it was more of a light rain.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden Entrance

Tree Peony 'Phoenix White' (Paeonia ostii)
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

We were able to find a few peonies in bloom at the Greater Des Moines Botanical garden. We found a nice size specimen of Tree Peony 'Phoenix White' (Paeonii ostii). However it was quite drenched, and someone even nicknamed it the "soggy princess". The delicate white petals of this tree peony were definitely soaked and slumped. Since spring was behind there in Iowa, only a few early blooming varieties were open. We did also find a nice little plant of Peony 'Pink Tea Cup' which seemed to be standing up to the rain quite well. The bright pink petals called to you from across the garden even in the rain.

Peony 'Pink Tea Cup'
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Bonsai Garden
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

There was also a fancy bonsai garden flanking the entrance to their conservatory. I had a nice time checking out those miniature trees. The oldest specimen in their collection was a Ginkgo biloba tree that was over 150 years old! That is quite an amazing feat. I've always wanted to grow a bonsai tree, but I don't think I have the daily dedication to do it since I've killed a few already. Maybe I just need a Ginkgo biloba! Ha ha! The conservatory of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden was a very nice surprise and a welcomed respite from the rain drops outside.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden Conservatory

Succulents in the Conservatory
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Inside the conservatory were various colorful succulents, blooming tropicals, and nice size specimens of several varieties of palms. It was fun to explore, with some pop of color or exotic bloom right around the next corner. There was also a 2nd level around the edge of one side of the conservatory, which gave a nice view of the plant menagerie below. This garden also had a lovely gift shop, where I was able to purchase a couple of treasures for my children. There was also a pretty cool living plant wall at the front entrance/exit filled with a variety of tropical houseplants. Sitting next to it just made me feel alive (must have been all that extra oxygen! LOL

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden Conservatory

APS Members & Living Plant Wall
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Sunday, June 2, 2019

2019 American Peony Society Convention Garden Tours

I couldn't believe the change in temperatures from one day to the next. It was forecasted to be 88 degrees the day of the home garden tours in Iowa, but I'm pretty sure it made it to 90 degrees (or at least felt like it!). However we really need the warm temperatures to get the peonies and other flowers to open. Most of the gardens we toured had lots of "green" since the spring season was about a month behind. There were a few very early herbaceous peonies open and a couple tree peonies open, but most of the peonies in the gardens were in bud.

Cornbred Barbeque Lunch at Prairie Moon Winery

Prairie Moon Winery Lunch

The barbeque lunch we had at the local Prairie Moon Winery was very tasty. It was catered in from a food truck company that was opening their own restaurant there in Iowa called Cornbred Barbeque. There were ribs, pulled pork barbeque, macaroni and cheese, cucumber and tomato salad, jalapeño cornbread, and your choice of beverage from the winery bar. I thought the coolest things were the wooden forks and the plates made from fallen palm leaves! How creative and eco-friendly!

Girton House & Garden

Peony 'Nosegay' and Red Fernleaf Peony in Girton Garden

There were plenty of snacks at every garden. The homemade pies and cakes at the Girton garden were very delicious. I had to try the carrot cake since it didn't have raisins in it (just how I like it), and it was very delish! Everyone was vying for the shady spots since the Girton garden was mostly a full sun garden, and we were all melting. However they did have a nice assortment of teas and lemonades with ice to try to keep us cool! My favorite peony in bloom here was the double lavender P. Rockii, which reminded me of the lavender P. Rockii seedling in my own garden.

Shady Spot in the Girton Garden

Lavender P. Rockii at Girton Garden

The sun continued to be relentless even at the Jurik garden, but thankfully there was much more shade with many mature trees surrounding the house shading an extensive hosta collection. The fruit cups garnished with mint were a hit, as were the assortment of homemade cookies! People were able to find a few early blooming peonies open here too, as well as a few tree peonies. The APS ALM Committee was able to use the Jurik garden as a great training ground for their new judges during the 2019 American Peony Society Convention ALM Judges Training as well! All in all it was a great day! :-)

Tom & Kris Jurik House & Garden

Jurik Garden Extensive Hosta Collection