Yesterday I had the privilege of being invited to a luncheon and talk by Diane Ott Whealy, one of founders of Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. The lunch was also a great opportunity to meet some other Chicago area bloggers and get myself out to the Botanic Gardens (because clearly I don’t go there enough already?). I think the luncheon was probably the most interesting part, if only for the reason that I found out that people who garden in the city (as opposed to me way out in the burbs) apparently have a problem with RATS as a serious garden pest. Yuck. I’m not sure why that’s so much more yuck than squirrels or racoons but it is. It really was nice to talk to other bloggers from there area though, especially seeing as I haven’t really met any plant people since moving here and my lack of interacting with other plant people is starting to turn me into the planty equivalent of a crazy cat lady.
The talk was a lot more interesting than I expected it to be. Not to say I went into it with low expectations about the content or anything, but I’ve been to enough talks to know that 9/10 times they get hijacked by some random audience member and you spend the entire time talking about some bizarre, oddly specific problem that no one on earth other than that person will ever conceivably have. That did not happen this time and I couldn’t be happier about it. Instead we learned about the ins and outs of running a massive seed bank, the work it took to get it started, how they keep all their thousands of varieties pure and things of that nature.
I was really pleased that the talk stayed positive and didn’t delve into a speech against hybrids. Maybe it’s just me but after going to school for horticulture I’m sick to death about the endless arguments for/against hybrids and heirlooms. I know it’s important to a lot of people but this just wouldn’t have been the appropriate venue for it so thankfully it wasn’t an issue.
After the talk there was a seed exchange but I don’t really need anymore seeds (on that note I got a community garden plot! 10×20′ of space for me to grow whatever I want!) so I just did a quick browse (and sure enough there was nothing I actually needed) and went for a wander around the gardens. I was just there a few days ago and just did a big post a few days ago so I’ll spare you the 400 pictures and only post a couple of my favorite witch hazels (many of which happened to be in full bloom in spite of the 4 inches of snow on the ground). My favorites were Brigit and Amethyst because I just loved that deep burgundy color. I’m pretty sure I need one or two (dozen?) of these now.