Last fall I was honored to receive an invitation to serve as a Celebrity Judge at a local rhododendron show, sponsored by the local chapter of the Rhododendron Society of America, which I have been looking forward to ever since. And last weekend was the big event, held on the coast of Mendocino County in the small quaint town of Ft. Bragg. Never having served in this capacity before I was not quite sure what to expect. I arrived early to the school where the show was taking place and here was my first (overwhelming) view:
The breadth and depth of what I was witnessing rolled over and through me and spun itself out unexpectedly in little tears streaming down my cheeks. This was no small feat I was seeing. The toil, labor, sweat, tears and heart that went into the hydbridization, growing, selecting and collecting was not lost on me at all. There was an enormous amount of love in that room. A love for rhododendrons. Welcome to the World of the Rhododendron People.
Shortly after the several other judges arrived, who were primarily from a second chapter in the South Bay. What a lovely group of grounded knowledgeable people! I was paired with a charming woman who had grown rhododendrons for many years and knew the primary movers and shakers in the Rhododendron World. She told me about some amazing gardens on the East Coast. I knew I was in good hands with her and determined to take note and learn what I could from my time with her on Saturday. We were tasked with moving up and down those tables, choosing the best examples of various subspecies. While I did not have the criteria in hand she had, she graciously told another judge, “It’s fun working with Kathryn. She’s looking for beauty.” (Yes, indeed!) I felt my years of photographing flowers was my primary skill in helping to assess what made each selection worthy of a first, second or third place ribbon. And we were at liberty to name Honorable Mentions, so the imperfect lovelies also had a chance. My partner was fond of the yellows; I was fond of the pinks. We were a good match. We mostly agreed on all our choices and worked well in allowing for each other’s preferences. It was a challenging and fun experience and I learned a lot.
The many photos that follow will give you a tiny taste of the abundant beauty I was exposed to at this show. I have not written down all the various species. I simply wanted to be able to share a bit of what I was able to experience on this most special of days. You will undoubtedly notice that while the majority of the flowers I photographed were single flowers, entered in the show, that I have also included a few that were in large pots that were presented to the public for sale. I invite you to breath in their beauty and to enjoy!
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever…” ~ John Keats
Are these not spectacular? What a blessing the rhododendron!
Love and flower blessings,
Book News: The Whole Person Calendar in Southern California is going to be running a couple of excerpts from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in upcoming issues. I will let you know exactly when. I’m also anticipating an author event soon at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma. Stay tuned!
Posted on May 3rd, 2011 by Kathryn
Filed under: Plants