EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AT WISLEY
APOLOGISES FOR THESE PAGES BEING IN A MESS FOR SO LONG.
August 16th: Took seven varieties to Wisley, I can tell you what the varieties were but not how they got on, until the Secretary of the Joint Committee James Armitage sends me his report. The bloke who takes me, you know the photographer David Le'Clercq had just bought a new Toyota, diesel it was, went like the wind, although of course we never once went over the speed limit. As we'd taken the ladies, I ended up with two Orchid flowered varieties and the giant wedged between the dash and my lap. I hasten to add a towel had been suitably placed to protect the new interior. Photo
As soon as we got to the long drive leading to the Wisley car parks I reminded Dave to go straight to the back of the admin buildings, or is it the front? It must be the front because it's on the outside of the grounds, but it looks like the back. I wanted to make sure we didn't have far to off load, as we had three boxes holding seven sets of flowers. I emptied the car asked the ladies if they'd mind picking up the incidentals and rang the door bell at the same time as someone else was about to leave. I thanked them for holding the door open for me, being the gentleman that I am, and took the first of the small carrying crates through to the exhibition and lecture hall. God how I wished I was eighteen and working as a run -about at this place, on the dahlia staff of course. Photo Hurrying back to bring the two remaining crates, I met someone who had come to see who it was ringing the bell, I explained it was me, and she told me not to forget to report at reception, which I did; not forget, but told reception.
As I set about arranging the first couple of varieties the ladies helped by filling up the vases that James Armitage had left me. I was the only breeder to have bought flowers to this wonderful place, I couldn't believe it, surely there were breeders in the South capable of bringing something, even if it was cut flower varieties, but no. Dave come back complaining he had to go miles to get the car parked, I commiserated with him , and he started snapping the vases I'd completed, it was just like working in a factory, but I could have done without his enthusiasm, but didn't tell him. The two varieties of Orchid flowered dahlias staged their self, Photo the miniature ball dahlias were the worse to set up, but without oasis I managed by pushing a piece of newspaper to the bottom of the vase and holding the stems more or less in place with further newspaper, old fashioned I know but it sufficed, after all these flowers were to be assessed for either cut flower, exhibition or garden use. They weren't in a competition, I was the only participant. I was almost finished the fifth vase when James Armitage appeared and asked me how I was, and did I have enough vases, I told him I was okay, and I had enough vases, but I could do with some registration forms, he left and within minutes was back explaining these forms were much simpler to fill in, they might be simple but I still had seven to fill in. I carried on finishing the last vase, with David still organising the `Photo Shoot' bless him, he takes a very good photo, but always complains that his glasses get in the way. James Armitage explained while I was on the last vase, they, meaning the dahlia staff had experienced a bit of trouble this year with the trials. He didn't say what, and I was to fuzzy headed to ask, I thanked him for all he'd done and he left, leaving me to tidy up. That's when a suited youngster came in and asked me where the tables were, I explained his guess was as good as mine, it appears he had to set up the tables for the gourmet meal the executive committee was going to consume. He left mumbling something, and returned with a trolley filled with plates and plates of goodies. Which he placed on the freshly found tables, obviously knowing the NDS crew had a healthy appetite. By this time the ladies decided to find Dave who had gone to book our mid day lunch, I said I'd meet them outside in a few minutes. I looked at the exhibits, I'm sure the orchid flowering will make it to the trials, I'm not sure if they are going to like Leanne's Wedding, I didn't really have a matching set, Texas Moon were a little passed their best, they were firm enough but the contrasting colour had begun to fade. That left Mayan Princess, and First Born, they should have seen First Born two days ago, having travelled in a hot car it had knocked some of the stuffing out of it. Mayan Princess however was as fresh as a daisy, but didn't have an eye, funny thing was the centres were perfect. Just shows how you could throw a variety away when it shows an elongated centre, which it did in it's seedling year. Photo Tidying the crates and picking up the bags with camera and all the trapping of a guy trying to make his way in the dahlia world, a young lady called Caroline Beck come in, she said she was the new secretary of the Executive Council, I remarked it was unusual to have such a young person involved in our hobby, although it is very nice to have young people involved, she said her granddad grew dahlias, and that said it all. No sooner had she departed, and June Nash was commenting on the vases I'd left on the stage. "Pleased we've got something to look at" she said. I nodded and left the exhibition hall. As I got half way along the narrow passage outside the hall I was confronted by no other than our General Secretary Dave Kent and the Chairman of the Executive Council Graham Carey, they looked hot and ready for lunch, having trudge all the way up the long grassy walk to Portsmouth Field to see the trials, and all the way back, I shook both their hands and bid them good bye, Dave muttered something about the gents, not in those exact words, and hurried on. I carried on, only to bump into Ken Letts and Joe Batten coming into the building via the Lily Pool entrance, we also shook hands, and I ventured out into the sunlight to see one of Wisley's most wonderful scenes. Photo
We hung around waiting for our table which was booked for one o'clock, most of the time was spent in what I can only call the Rebecca Garden. Photo. just shows you how one species can create a spectacle, but we know don't we? We grow dahlias. It wasn't long before we found ourselves sitting in the spender of the Wisley Restaurant, the only thing missing was a string quartet, a waiter come up and asked us if we wanted any wine, I said yes and invited Dave to do the tasting, he knows about these things. After the tasting Dave told him it was a lovely wine, but it wasn't a chilled, I wanted to get under the table, the young fella's face went as red as the plush curtains, but returned to normal by the time he bought the chilled bottle. I apologised for the inconvenience, I don't like to make a fuss, always imagine that the waiter will tell the chef, and they'll kick our main course around the kitchen before serving. But it didn't happen the meal was fine Poached Cod with courgettes and a really nice sauce, it didn't come up to what Irene dishes up though, but that was to be expected. Photo
August 21st: I think I better stop now, it is Sunday, and I've just consumed three largish glasses of Sweet Spanish white wine 18%, we had roast chicken thighs, and the screen and keyboard have taken on a new look. Be back tomorrow, bless you Ken.
August 22nd: Today a London based photographer was supposed to call, let me explain, back in June I received an email asking if it was possible to photograph some of my dahlias. I'd explained they wouldn't be any flowers until August, September period, but he was welcome to do it as soon as there was adequate flowers to warrant the trip. Imagine my surprise after letting him know this week would be a good time, and him confirming he'd be down early Monday, when I got an email apologizing that unfortunately he had to go to a meeting, and he wouldn't be able to make it after all. I didn't want to leave it until next week as it would be to near the National Dahlia Show at Shepton Mallet. Of course I emailed him back explain I was sorry he couldn't make it, but I hoped his project would be a success. The strange thing was, the email I sent, came back, saying that 550 mail is not accepted from a Blacklisted IP address. What the hell's a Blacklisted IP address, I hope it wasn't something I said, or perhaps it was the three glasses of wine on Sunday. He'd obviously asked for my address earlier, so as he knew where to come, but in the email stating he couldn't make it, he'd also asked for my telephone number, in case I didn't get the email, he'd want to apologise personally. Makes you think doesn't it.
September 12th: Had an email from the secretary of the joint RHS & NDS Executive Committee James Armitage, and the committee admired a couple of my exhibits at Shepton Mallet, his words. Any way they would like me to send half a dozen each of Mr. Buttercup, and Badger Twinkle next year for the trials. I didn't trouble to explain they weren't both mine, and that Badger Twinkle was John Theirmann from the States, they will know that soon enough when I fill in the particulars about the plants, or sooner if they read it here. He also said the Wisley trials had picked up, and despite the slow start the dahlia portion of Portsmouth Field was once more looking colourful. I wonder if they'll have any colour at the beginning of November, because that's when the last meeting of the joint committee sits, bit late but I'd love to take a bit of stuff up then , to finish off an exciting year.