Sunday, June 24, 2018

2018 Peony 'Lavon' APS 2018 Best in Show

Peony 'Lavon'
American Peony Society 2018 Best In Show
Grand Champion

When the results for the Best in Show flower were revealed after the 2018 American Peony Society Judges Select Court of Honor and Best In Show, there was quite a bit of excitement surrounding the peony that won the highest honor of the peony exhibition. The award went a home-state exhibitor, Brooks Gardens of of Brooks, Oregon. The hybridizer of the peony also happened to be at the show, Don Hollingsworth. So it was a great win for both! I decided to talk with both of them about what having Peony 'Lavon' win Best in Show meant to each of them. Here's what they said...

Don Hollingsworth Hybridizer of Peony 'Lavon'
(named after his wife Lavon)
and Kent Tretheway, Lavon's Son

Questions for Don Hollingsworth:

How did it feel to have your Peony 'Lavon' honored as the Best In Show flower at this year's APS Convention?

"I was and am pleased. While I have known for decades that peony ‘Lavon’ is capable of making a flower which could rightly be named Best in Show, this is the first time it ever happened. And I must add: this flower winning is remarkable in that it was scarcely half the size and fullness of which ‘Lavon’ is capable. And, I am not second guessing the judges in these remarks. When competent judges do their job, flower condition (freshness, crispness) and symmetry of its anatomy are key considerations and this Best of Show flower was strong among the competition on both counts."

Were you surprised to find out that it won?

"Yes, because that was the first I was aware an entry of ‘Lavon’ had even been staged. I was not tapped for the judging, and my previous partial tour of the staged entries was focused on the hybrids classes and the floral designs, taking pictures. After judging was completed, I happened to enter the room by way of the door near where the Court of Honor was staged. Yes, it was the best possible series of events for me to be not only surprised, but pleasantly so."

How does it encourage you in your hybridizing?

"It reminded me that for years I have been wishing (and trying again and again) to find pollen in current flowers of ‘Cytherea’, which is the pollen parent of ‘Lavon’, also its seven siblings and half-siblings which have earned name registration here."

Therese Sprauer of Brooks Gardens
Accepting her Best In Show Ribbon
for her Peony 'Lavon' Show Flower

Questions for Therese Sprauer:

How did it feel to have your Peony 'Lavon' honored as the Best In Show flower at this year's APS Convention?

"Thank you for asking - it's always a thrill to compete. I really like encouraging others to do the same. I often hear how some growers and gardeners feel intimidated by such huge competition and I hope to encourage all gardeners and growers to bring even a few flowers to enter."

"I was thrilled and honored to learn 'Lavon' was awarded Best in Show/Grand Champion at the 2018 American Peony Society floral exhibit. With such strong competition, it is an absolute joy to learn one of your entries dazzled at the right moment. To share the victory with Don Hollingsworth, the hybridizer, made it even sweeter!"

"A huge thank you to the APS; the many volunteers who tagged and placed entries; and, to our Brooks Gardens team, whose work on the farm allowed me time to select, cut and store peony buds for entry."

Were you surprised to find out that it won?

"The day before the exhibit, I was in the field telling my flower cutter, Rita, that she could now cut any flowers for bouquets, as I was done gathering buds for competition. I then literally snatched two flowers out of her hand and said " Except I will take these two 'Lavon's' to enter in competition tomorrow - they look perfect." I was in a bit of disbelief when I heard that it was, in fact, a 'Lavon' that won - one of the last entries placed on the tables."

How does it encourage you in your peony growing and exhibitions?

"To see a showroom filled with hundreds of beautiful peonies is breathtaking and rewarding to all participants and visitors. I encourage all peony growers and gardeners to participate in the APS floral exhibit. No matter the level of excitement or anxiety one experiences along the way from field to exhibit table, I remind myself and others, 'it only takes one flower'. That's important to remember when you see hundreds, or even thousands of flowers brought in to the prep areas for entry selection. Bring your flowers next year and join in the fun!"

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