We didn’t know that we were going on an historical adventure when we decided to go to the Stilesboro Improvement Club’s Centennial Celebration Chrysanthemum show. We took the back roads through some pleasing farm land. The cotton had just been harvested and the old homes and surroundings took us back in time.
The StilesboroAcademy was built in 1859 by local landowners and I am told that students from all over Georgia attended. The classes ranged from kindergarten to the equivalent of today’s junior college. General Sherman ordered the building spared during the burning and looting of his march to the sea and occupied it for a limited time. More information may be found at The Stilesboro Improvement Club website. When I travel, I like to take pictures of historical markers just in case I want to go back and look at them. Here’s the sign from the Georgia Historical Society:
As I entered, I grabbed a shot of the StilesboroAcademy sign:
We paid our admission (a whopping $2.00 each) and entered the display area. It took a while to take in the array of different types and classes of chrysanthemum flowers. Most of these flowers had been carefully grown for size, using disbudding techniques. I was taken by the spider mum right off: (I tried to get Dekie’s hand in a lot of the pictures to show the size of the flowers)
We looked at the displays for a while until I glanced through an open doorway and saw that they were serving Brunswick stew. In my book, Brunswick stew takes precedence over looking at flowers most of the time. Mark Twain once said, “I never eat Brunswick stew at a restaurant because I don’t know what’s in it and I never eat it at home because I do know what’s in it.”
We took a break to eat and I pronounced the Brunswick stew some of the best ever—and I consider myself a well-informed judge. As to the flowers, though, I was familiar with growing the show flowers but I wanted to find out a bit more about what was going on. I’m still without a voice, but my wife Dekie is very helpful and patient in assisting me with an interview. It was not difficult to find help. We met Jan and LeeRoy Shepherd.
I found out right off that LeeRoy was the “Stewmaster” and had put together gallons and gallons of the wonderful Brunswick stew. I told him how impressed I was with it. Jan was very helpful in offering us a history of the show as well as giving me information on the growing of the flowers. I was told that the ladies of the organization ordered rooted cuttings in the spring and grew them carefully. A process called disbudding is used on the plants, removing all but one flower bud as the plant grows in order to increase the size and vigor of that one flower. I remarked that they do the same thing to produce prize winning watermelons and pumpkins. She agreed.
When I asked about varieties, Jan gave me a catalogue from Kings Mums and told me this was the company they ordered their cuttings from every year and that the catalogue was full of information. I found a page on King’s Mums website that showed me the flowers by class and variety. If you are interested in seeing a variety of impressive flowers, click here to go to King’s Mums page on “Cultivars”. I clicked on the pictures and enjoyed the show.
This is a centennial celebration of the chrysanthemum show. Miss Campie Hawkins is credited with having originated the idea for the first chrysanthemum show in the state of Georgia in 1912. This annual chrysanthemum show is known as the oldest continuously held show of its kind in the state of Georgia.
Jan Shepherd told me that the worst enemy of the large flowers was the grasshopper. She said that there have been quite a few instances of a carefully tended flower bud being eaten just before it opened. I could imagine the dismay with which one could watch months of careful attention turn into a meal for a grasshopper. That didn’t happen to the flowers pictured here, though.
You may wish to click the link review a related article on perennial garden mums from the first of October.
As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?
If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org