As June approached,
preparations were underway for the trip to Windsor
Locks, Connecticut, where the Worlds #1 New Hosta Show would be held. Plants had to be selected,
dug, potted (very
clean pots), and made to look their best.
After all, First Look is a SHOW to exhibit the
newest and best of the
hostas. There were
the minor things to
take care of, as well, like sending in my registration, reserving a
making plans with friends, and luggage to pack.
This year was going to be a mind-blowing
and Friends, what more could ya ask
The night before
departing I headed over to meet friend and fellow
hosta buddy, Cheryl Cravino, of the famous Hosta Amour nursery. Last minute details
required that I deliver a
few flats of mini plants she would use in her “Fairy Garden”
chatted and laughed as plants were loaded.
I would go down early to help out where I
could and to give me a head start.
and Deb Myrick would both be working late Friday before heading down
together. With some
plants for exhibit, some for
friends, some for auction, and some for the contest loaded, it was time
good night’s sleep.
I woke early, with
excitement, as I wanted to be on the road by 10 a.m.,
arrive by noon, have lunch, and catch up with friends.
As luck would have it, it was a cool morning,
with lots of clouds. I
the car, programmed “Mabel” the GPS, and gave my pup, Morgan, a cookie
I went, just as the rain started.
rain, nor snow, nor sleet would keep me from First Look 13.
arrived early, enjoyed lunch at the hotel, and scouted the lay of
the land. I knew where the classes, vending, and banquet would be. Then I ran into Kathie
Sisson, who was
setting up the “check in station.” I signed in, got my gift plant,
cards, and ID badge, then chatted a bit before heading out to help the
duo of Bill Meyer and Carol Brashear, who are the hosts of First Look. Unloading plants of all
kinds for an array of
different functions soon followed.
helped set up display tables, then finished unloading plants. On the final cart of
plants, I recognized the
Keynote speaker walking towards the entrance.
Yes, world famous hybridizer,
photographer, friend, and speaker, Ron
Livingston, had arrived. As
Ron and Fran
settled in, more and more hosta fanatics began to arrive. The hotel was abuzz with
I ran off to the
class I had signed up for, which Kathie Sisson was
teaching, with the joint knowledge of Carolyn Schaffner and Cathy
Clinic I was fantastic. Focusing
on cut leaf, we learned what goes on
behind closed judges’ doors (sworn to secrecy on that!), what they look
see, and comprehend in their efforts to educate the public about the
We studied the guidelines and
procedures, then took a test on the basic
understanding and function of a hosta judge.
Following that, the real fun began, live
review of cut leaves. The
judges formed a panel and educated us on
the techniques used to determine what makes the perfect leaf, how
deducted, and how it applies to new plants.
In the class we learned many wondrous
things as we discovered much about
judging and the steps to becoming a judge.
Step 1 completed, I passed! Now I need
to volunteer on some panels and
get some experience.
After class I got a
text from Ron and Fran asking if I had eaten yet.
We met in the lobby and decided on the
Bar and Grill located in the hotel.
MacLachlan joined us, and talk of hybridizing, collecting, growing and
everything in between relating to hostas filled the night. The food was really good
and the company even
better. After the
three-hour dinner and
conversation, most called it a night, as activities would begin early
day. I said goodnight and headed to the
Hostatality, hosted by Paula Lehtola and Mary Arnberg.
Laughs and antics followed, with Jeff
Tucker, Viktoria Serafin, and Cindy King
and a few other
die-hard hosta-fevered friends. Then
I found my way back to the room in the
wee hours of the morn and slept for three hours before heading down for
Saturday had arrived
and is the focal point of the weekend events.
I began the morning by assisting
Carol in setting up the Best Plant in a Pot, Largest Leaf and Oddity
displays, and voting. As
started to waken and come downstairs, we headed down to the continental
breakfast included with the registration.
to vending where I acquired Hosta
‘Biddy Blue’, ‘Lost World’, ‘She’s a Dancer’ streaked, and a ‘Fairy
Japanese Maple. Many
of the vendors
carried some new and exciting things, some classics, and even some
one-of-a-kind plants. It
was a GREAT
start to the day, and it was only 9:30 a.m.
I then dropped off my five entries in
the First Look competition entry
station. Each was
assigned a number, and
I received a receipt. They
photographed and placed in their category for display and judging, a
Meyer, Kevin Plumley, Roger Smith, and Kathie Sission have mastered.
first presentation was about to begin.
Carol Brashear was speaking on
that menace to
hostas everywhere - voles. Her
was a detailed intro on how to recognize, trap, and protect hostas from
shared her insights on
baits, caging, and traps, and what worked best.
The wire baskets and how to plant
a hosta in them are always a topic of
presented a slide show
that illustrated many of the techniques used to prevent vole damage. She even had door prizes,
which included new,
no-touch traps from Ortho.
presentation was Cheryl Cravino’s on Fairy Gardens.
She had several displayed, using
containers, custom-built fairy houses, and some great miniature plants. She told the story of how
would make them clap their hands when stepping off a path to let the
magical creatures know to watch out.
while in the woods, her grandmother explained to her she had to be very
to catch a glimpse of the woodland fairies.
Was her grandmother just very
clever in keeping the kids quiet, or was
there some truth in her tales of magical fairies? I guess you will have
plant your own garden to find out.
I followed these
great presentations with the view of the exhibits.
There was a table set up to guess
the ID of
eleven hostas, the Name That Hosta Contest.
I only got five of them correct. On
display for voting purposes were best hosta in a pot and themed
O’Brien won best hosta in a pot, with his
well-grown ‘Spring Fling’, and Cheryl Cravino won themed planters with
Bunting’. A large
group was gathering to
view the Best in Class winners in the main competition.
Ribbons had been placed on the
displayed and the judges presented some discussion about what lead to
that ribbon. It’s
informative to hear what the judges thought processes are in choosing
That Hosta contest
wrapping up for the day, a scheduled break before the
banquet was needed. All
plants had to be picked up, while everyone prepared for dinner.
The banquet began
with an auction.
Bidding was furious and good-natured.
Some great plants found new homes,
including ‘Blushing Banana’, donated
by Matt Sanford and now living here at my house.
Several of Ron Livingston’s intros
it into the auction, including ‘Atom Smasher’ and ‘Presweetened’. With the auction complete,
took the podium and presented “Have Hosta Gone to the Dogs?” The presentation was
themed on how ALL the
dog breeds originated from one gene pool, the wolf.
There being several species of
hostas with a
wider source of genes, where could we go with hybridizing them? Ron’s
presentation involved feedback from the attendees, what they would like
in a hosta, and the thought that any idea is a moldable concept. Just look at how far red
in a hosta has come
and imagine how far dogs have evolved from the wolf.
The conclusion was reached that
much more can
be developed and shared in the world of hosta.
The meal was served and
conversation was ample. Concluding
the day, awards were presented for
both judges’ choices and attendees’ choices.
John O’Brien’s ‘Snow Squall’, a
curly new sport of ‘White Christmas’,
won both new sport awards from the judges and the attendees. Kathie Sission’s most
unique powdery blue
folded seedling, which she will name ‘Billfold’, won the
judges’ choice for
best new seedling. Chick
Wasitis won the
attendee vote for best new seedling, with yet another of his
rock-n-roll classic name is
in the works for Chick’s new plant that he will no doubt reveal on New
Eve, for the unveiling of the First Look 13 website.
Carol reminisced about this year’s
prayed for those no longer with us, and thanked everyone for making
13 one to remember.
the meal, many retired, while those of us who can’t get enough of
the company of other hosta fanatics sat around sipping wine and
thinking of the
next new dog breed! That would be hosta breed!
Sunday morning came
much too quickly, many said goodbyes over
breakfast before heading out to the three fantastic tours of the John
Matt Sanford, and Brashear/Meyer Gardens.
All the gardens were exceptional
and so beautiful.
At the O’Brien
nursery and gardens, visitors were given the chance to
see ‘Snow Squall’ up close and personal, while shopping for that
hosta and perusing the display gardens filled with conifers,
perennials, and of
course, hostas, hostas, and more hostas.
garden showed the detailed work of an exceptional
hybridizer, from his start and his hopes to his goals and his first
realizations of them. His creations, such as ‘Madison’, ‘Yellow Ledbetter’,
future intros were on display. Watch
for his ‘Rumor Has
It’, ‘Look at Me’, and ‘Luscious Legs’ to come into the market. They are spectacular.
My last stop of the
day, before heading home, was the garden of Carol
Brashear and Bill Meyer, a garden built by hybridizing and collecting. Many variegated plants
were displayed along
the paths, mingled with some of their own creations and discoveries,
‘Pole Dancer’, ‘Flaming Queen’, ‘Black Licorice Sticks’, and ‘Mayflower
Moon’. A visual
delight of texture, color, and form
was everywhere in the garden.
You ALL for making First Look 13 one to remember and I hope to
see everyone at First Look 14, where memories and friends are forged.