In the Beginning.....
Excerpts from an article, From the Beginning, written by Tom Rood, of Penn Yan, NY,
on the origins of the Finger Lakes Daylily Society
Three people are directly responsible for the formation of the Finger Lakes Daylily Society. The first is my late mother Grace, second is Sydney Eddison, and third the late Bill Munson in that order. My mother was an AHS member back in its early days. She taught us how to hybridize, and my very first cross was made not much later.
February 1994 was the date I accepted an early retirement buy-out from my employer. There was a lot of snow on the ground that year and we spent most of the time reading. Kathy found Sydney Eddison’s book Passion For Daylilies and suggested I read it. She said it explained a lot of things about daylilies that inspired my mother and described the people we had heard my mother talk so much about.
After reading her book, I wrote Bill Munson requesting a visit when we planned to be in Florida later that spring (April 1994). Bill wrote back welcoming our visit. When we arrived at Bill’s Wimberly Way Gardens, he met us in the driveway carrying plastic chairs. We sat there in the shade and I remember it just as if it were yesterday, Bill looking at us and saying, “Now, what questions would you like to ask me?” We talked for over two hours. This father of modern daylilies encouraged us to get involved and not stay in our own garden so-to-say. He suggested we begin by becoming a display garden. Little did he know what doors he was opening. He had a vision for us beyond what we could see, let alone understand, at that point in time. If a clincher was needed, it happened when Betty (Bill’s sister) came out with a tray filled with Bill’s latest blooms. We had never seen anything like those in my mother’s daylily collection or in Wild’s catalog. We were hooked, including line, sinker, reel, and pole.
Getting involved in daylilies instills a hunger for more- more daylilies, more information, and more people to talk to who understand the various levels of daylily addiction. We soon found out that there was a daylily club in Albany, 200 miles away. We also learned there was a new club just getting started in Buffalo, the Buffalo Area Daylily Society, and that there was a social group called the Rochester Area Daylily Society. We visited and joined all three.
The 300 plus miles between Albany and Buffalo were a barren wasteland when it came down to finding “full service” daylily organization. What was needed in central NY was a new club. I took the current AHS Membership Roster and placed a pin on a state road map locating every AHS member living in Upstate NY. There were equal collections of pins around Syracuse and Rochester. The two are a hundred miles apart. Well, the thought occurred that Geneva was right smack in the center and we had the use of a free meeting room at Geneva’s NY Agricultural Experiment Station. Earlier that year, the Buffalo club set up a booth at Rochester’s spring Garden Scape flower show and we collected names of people interested in a local daylily club.
Using this list of names and the AHS membership roster, I sent out 80 letters to ascertain interest in forming a full service club thinking we would need ten or twelve to get started. Depending upon which group had the largest response, we could meet in either Auburn, just west of Syracuse or Canandaigua just east of Rochester or in the center in Geneva. We got only three inquiries back and decided to drop the idea.
A chance meeting with three of the people receiving our letters while visiting Rudy Zarko’s Rochester garden rekindled the quest for the new club. All three “jumped” on me asking when we were going to start the new club! I wanted to know why they had not responded and got a variety of excuses. So, back home, we phoned every one of the 80 people on our mailing list. There was little interest from folks in Syracuse, but there was great interest in the Rochester group.
We sent out a second letter inviting those expressing interest in a full service daylily club to attend an informational/organizational meeting. We selected Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua because it is well known as our first meeting place. We went prepared with an outline based on the organizational set up of the Hudson - Adirondack club that we loved so much. To our happy surprise, 37 people attended the kick-off meeting. They selected the name Finger Lakes Daylily Society and made the decision to hold only four meetings per year instead of the usual monthly meetings most clubs have. They also decided to accept the HADS system of organization with the exception of having our club led by a chairperson rather than a president.
More quips, quotes, & photos to follow.