2021 Summer Celebration: A Review

We have always had the summer celebration on the first long weekend of August so this year it was Aug 1 and 2, 2021 (Sunday/Monday).  We decided to feature gladiolus this year and we worried that there wouldn’t be enough glads  but it turned out there were. Part of the reason we chose glads this year was the NAGC (North American Glad Council) wanted to feature Reg Powys-Lybbe as a speaker and record his talk for distribution to all the dahlia and glad clubs in the USA and Canada.  As Reg pointed out, he learned from experienced growers and producers and he wants to pass along this knowledge.  Reg is a well-known grower and exhibitor of both glads and dahlias and has propagated several new varieties of both. He and Marlene are the editors of the “Canadian Gladiolus Society Annual” which is an awesome booklet full of interesting articles.   Ken Jensen oversaw procuring the videographers (a teacher and his son) who did an excellent job.  We have not seen the finished product yet, but they were very nice people and had all the equipment needed including directional mics.  I think the NAGC will be very happy with the resulting video.

Day 1: (Sunday) Reg (aka Dr. David Suzuki look-alike) did an awesome job (as usual) of keeping everyone interested and focused by intermixing personal stories and jokes.  He gave each person a popsicle stick with a yellow paper circle stapled on and said it is to remind everyone to ‘Do what makes you smile”.  His talk and demo were on the different arrangement principles and types.  While he explained the different types of arrangements, Eileen Grant, Marilyn McArthur, and Evangeline Pastor were making arrangements to support his talking points. 



The two hours went by fast and then we took a break for lunch.  After lunch Reg touched on a few more points, like how to add props to your arrangement display, and then we all got busy making our own arrangements with the large supply of glads (and dahlias) and fillers available.  Green containers with oases were all ready for us to use. 

 A total of about 15 arrangements were made and displayed so that everyone could vote on their favorite.  They were all spectacular!  Everyone had the option to take theirs home, and those that were left were auctioned off in a silent auction.  I think most went for around $20 and someone commented that this would be a $80-$100 price at a florist. A donation box collected about $200 and the silent auction brought $90 more. 

An excellent supper was provided for everyone starting at 5:00 pm consisting of roast beef (cooked by Darrell Hatt), salads and desserts.  Water bottles were kept in a cooler of ice all day and juice and lemonade were also available throughout the event. Everything wrapped up around 7 or 8 pm. 

Day 2: (Monday) Ken is a senior judge for both dahlias and glads.  He is our ADS representative and is on several committees with the ADS (American Dahlia Society). He is also the Vice-President of the NAGC (North American Glad Council) and is a regular contributor to their quarterly publication “Glad World”.  He is also the president of the Alberta Horticultural Society. In the morning he explained how dahlias are judged differently in the Trial Garden than on the Seedling Bench or the Flower Show.  He went through the points of form, color, substance, foliage, stem and bloom position and why each is important in judging.  He had many examples of cut flowers to demonstrate his points.  Everyone was engaged and took advantage of his extensive knowledge. 

Lunch was leftovers from the night before which was beef, buns and desserts. 

The weather this day was much cooler and it even sprinkled a bit.  After lunch Ken spoke at greater length about how to color code a dahlia.  Everyone had the opportunity to color code several different dahlias.  At the end of the afternoon four people wrote exams to go up one level in the judging program. Mike Walliser wrote the ‘Accredited’ exam.  Melody Friesen, Earl Jackson and Debbie Hatt all wrote exams to be Senior judges.

We were able to use a loaned 30×10 tent which was so handy for the workshop and the supper!  The weather was very hot (32 degrees) on Sunday.   Brian and Dawn’s “Voyager Tile” tents provided the perfect backdrop for Reg’s talk and provided shade for most of the audience. 

There is a lot of work to organizing and setting up for an event like this.  We didn’t always have a ‘Summer Celebration”.  When the flower shows were held at venues in the city we thought it would be nice for the general public to come to the Trial Garden and view the beautiful blooms and see what the club was all about.  We have been doing this for several years and attendance has been dropping each year although the work and the cost remains.  This was advertised as a free event (as in past years) with a donation box available.  Now, with declining participation and with the Flower Show (Aug 20, 21) at the Trial Garden, maybe we don’t need or want to continue with the Summer Celebration.  Anyone who came to the event, especially those who had never been before, just thought it was spectacular.  Our Club did an awesome job of providing a first-rate event, workshop and meal.

Flower Show and Sale Aug 20 & 21, 2021

Lots of planning went into our 2021 Annual Flower Show and Sale.  In the past we held our show at different venues in Red Deer but, because of the Pandemic last year large gatherings indoors were prohibited which left us to host a much smaller show at Lorne & Marilyn McArthurs’ outside and in the open garage. That worked out so well that we decided to buy a party tent that we can use annually for the show and have the event at the Trial Garden. The tent cost $1600 but is very good quality and if we decide we don’t want or need it anymore we can always sell it or rent it out.  Mike Walliser was instrumental in finding the tent and, with the help of a few people, put it up a few days prior to the show.  Terri-Lynn and Ron Dodd offered one of their own party tents and we weren’t sure how much room we would need so we took them up on their offer.  Their tent even came with their own set-up and take-down crew! Deb & Darrell Hatt donated eight new tables to the club and Melody, Ken, Mike and Shirley brought tables so we had about 25 tables in all, which was enough.  We probably will still need the second tent next year and will appeal to Ron and Terri-Lynn Dodd to borrow it again.  Diane Gunter donated all the black tablecloths and Shirley Cullum hung one of her quilts (dahlia themed) and also a wall-hanging (also dahlia themed) and it all looked really nice. We are mulling over the idea of having a quilt display along with the flower show next year.

Friday morning started fast and furious and didn’t slow down!  Everyone was putting their exhibits out and admiring each others’ wonderful blooms.  Reg & Marlene came from High River and Dave Stephenson came from Glenevis, both with entries. Abbi Singh, Ross Smith and Margaret Crossen came from Calgary to help out even though they didn’t have any blooms in the show.  We all really appreciated the extra help along with our local dedicated helpers, Bob Halford and Earl Jackson.  The weather was beautiful, not too hot and not too cold although the wind did pick up later and we had to put the sides on the tents.  New this year was the photo contest which Terri-Lynn graciously agreed to organize.  Part of the reason for the photo contest this year was that the NAGC (North American Glad Council) wanted some photos for their convention later in the fall so we put out the call for photos of glads and our members came through with lots of photos.  Reg made a beautiful red & white arrangement in memory of Jeanne Carter and Ken & Eileen made a display with past memorial ribbons. The wasps were awful and even though we had wasp traps all around the area most of us got stung!  Judging commenced at 1 pm and lasted about two hours.  After the show closed to the public we had a delicious meal of beef on a bun, salads and dessert. Thanks to all the helping hands here.  We left all the tables and exhibits up overnight with prayers for no deer and no wind. Deb and Marilyn considered sleeping in the tent with Marilyn’s starter pistol but that was a fleeting thought.  In the morning everything was just as we had left it.

Saturday was mostly a day of relaxing and greeting visitors. Sales of flowers was steady and we all really enjoyed looking at the winning entries many times over.  Over and above was the enjoyment of each others’ company and the special social time. We started to pack up around 3 pm although it was suggested that next year we wait until 5 pm (as stated on the advertising) because people were coming to see the show after 3 pm.  This was our first year with the tent so there are a few things that can be tweaked for next year.  We found that some of the classes could be spread out so that the judges weren’t crowded and the show book could show the “3-Blooms” classes in with the regular classes and not in a class of their own.  The head table was also crowded but we will work on that next year.  All in all visitors were greeted with friendly people and a colorful and awesome display of blooms. Many thanks to all the helpers and organizers who made this possible including Joanne and Maxine who helped at the head table.  And let’s not forget the wonderful arrangements that were made for our enjoyment by Marilyn and Lorne!


Garden Tour and Progressive Lunch August 27, 2021

What an awesome day everyone had at our first ever garden tour and progressive lunch!  The weather was a bit gloomy but, as gardeners and farmers, we won’t complain about a little misty rain.  About twenty people showed up at the first stop which was at Darrell & Deb Hatt’s acreage in Delburne. This one-acre piece of land was originally a pasture so when Deb & Darrell bought the place in 2006 there was a lot of work to be done.  They showed a book of ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures which highlighted the progression from 2006 to winning the ‘Acreage Beautification’ award in the County of Red Deer in 2014.  Some features were the row of ornamental birdhouses, the gazebo, the cobblestone walkway, brick work in the front which flows around and ends up in a ‘heart’ shape, and the Chestnut Tree. Deb advises that her dahlia patch gets bigger every year, but she is going to stop at 200 dahlias.  All the work was done by Deb and Darrell and now they are tired, and Darrell is hoping there are no more big projects! Coffee and muffins (made by Diane Gunter) were available at this stop. 

Then it was on to Shirley and Evan Cullum’s beautiful farm just east of Three Hills.  Evan bought this farm when he was just 17 years old, and Shirley continues with the farming business while Evan has a construction company.  They have added on to, and remodeled the original farmhouse to the beautiful, modern, and stately home it is today. Shirley’s quilts adorn every room adding warmth along side her other handmade craft items.  All the landscaping is wonderful, but the highlight is their dahlia garden with over 400 dahlias. The cooler weather and recent rain had done wonders for the dahlias, and they were in full bloom that day.  There was no lack of interesting features to catch our eyes and marvel at including the gazebo, the wood carvings, tree house, bird houses, and the huge perennial garden! Oh, and we can’t forget the showcase of antique farm equipment especially the tractors (mostly all in running condition)! We all gathered inside for a pasta salad, buns and juice and discussed the flower show.  This was followed by a special dahlia book presentation by Shirley to Lorne & Marilyn McArthur for all their work for the club over the years AND for all the wonderful display arrangements they made for the show, and to Debbie Hatt as the winner of the Arrangement class at the flower show.  More book presentations will be made but some of the winners were not present.

Next, onto Ron and Terri-Lynn Dodd’s home just south of the hamlet of Rumsey. Ron’s grandparents were pioneers in the Rowley and Morrin districts and these farm families have received recognition for over 100 years of family farming.  They are a farm and ranch operation and over the years they developed a cattle feeding operation that has now evolved into a cow/calf herd.   We meandered through their neat and tidy yard and examined their large dahlia garden of about 200 dahlias. We were especially impressed with the lush lawn and the long perennial flowerbed that ran along the field. There were so many varieties of dahlias that we had never seen before, and everyone marveled at how healthy the plants were.  If you paid attention, you would find lots of interesting little corners throughout the yard for sitting and relaxing or you might find a little steppingstone pathway leading to a succulent garden or other quiet nook.  Dahlia arrangements or bouquets were featured in every room along with handmade quilting items. Terri-Lynn provided a choice of cakes and cookies along with juice to round out our progressive lunch.  Terri-Lynn and Ron have just finished their first year membership with the Alberta Dahlia and Glad Society and are very pleased with the Novice and Open show outcomes this year.  Terri-Lynn says: “We are very thankful for our new and old friendships through the club!”

Trial Garden Clean-up

The Trial Garden Clean-up day is always fun, especially when the weather is nice!  A group of about ten of us met at the Trial Garden on September 22, 2021 for the job of digging up the tubers and discarding the the ones we are not allowed to keep. It didn’t take long for the job to be completed and you can see the amount of tuber clumps that will be stored and saved for the tuber sale next year.  Not all these tubers were from the trial garden.  About half were from Lorne’s own garden and some have been donated by members already.  We really encourage and hope that members will donate some of their tubers back to the club for the tuber sale.  It is our main fundraiser!  If you have trouble over-wintering your tubers just bring them to Lorne and he will take care of them.  For the next two weeks Lorne could use help in putting the tubers safely to sleep in his cold room.  This involves cleaning and pruning them and packing them in crates. It’s a GREAT learning oppportunity! If you can help Lorne give him a call at 403-346-4902. 


Marilyn & Don Harvey from Canmore generously donated all their dahlias tubers to the club!  That presented an opportunity for a road trip for us girls!  So on September 23, 2021 Shirley Cullum, Deb Hatt, Terri-Lynn Dodd and Wendy Kingsmith departed on a fun day including a picnic lunch along the way.  It didn’t take long to dig the tubers and we were very careful to leave the flower beds in a neat and tidy manner when we were done.  We brought home about 70 clumps of tubers so that will be a real good boost to our club tuber sales next Spring including some new ones that we had not seen before.  Thank you so much Marilyn & Don!

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