A Four Day Journey...
From Western Canada to Shreveport

Of course, it does not take four days to go by plane to Shreveport. I could have left Vancouver, B.C., on Friday morning and arrived in the evening. But, as I was invited by my good friends, Dr. Troy and Dolores Garrett for a two-day visit in Oklahoma before driving to Shreveport on Friday, I did not expect to have even a slim chance of arriving with a few minis still good enough to enter at the Fall National. In any case, I considered It a super challenge to cut the blooms four to seven days before the show, leaving Canada on Tuesday and to possibly still have a few blooms to enter on Saturday.

About half of my roses arrived in fair condition, and I was able to enter all four classes possible with Glowing Amber, the one variety I brought. As I was waiting outside the show hall to enter after judging was completed one of the judges told me: “You have won the ‘Mini Cycle of Bloom’ challenge class.” I could not believe it at first and said: “You must be kidding.” Winning a challenge class with my own ‘Glowing Amber’ was beyond my wildest dreams.

Here is how I did it:
A week before, on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, I cut approximately 15 blooms at different stages with no more than one row of petals down and kept them in a fridge at 34-36F. On Tuesday afternoon, I cut the last six blooms. All were very tight with a couple of sepals just starting to unfurl. My smallest cooler box was too big to carry onto the plane, so I used a 8x12x12 inch cooler bag with only half-inch thick insulation, which fitted my approximately 20 minis. Each stem and bloom was protected inside 1 1/2 inch diameter cardboard tubes 8-10 inches long and each had a small orchid tube filled with “Floralife water” made almost double strength. On the bottom of the insulated bag and in between the cardboard tubes I put several small- and medium-sized bags of blue ice. I even took a leftover pint of Floralife water with me to top off the orchid tubes once during my four day trip. I also used the same (Real Canadian) water for my four entries at the show.

On Tuesday evening I left home for Seattle by car. I stayed in Seattle overnight. On Wednesday I flew from Seattle to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I arrived at friends home at 5 p.m. Then I took all the roses out of their protective cardboard tubes but left the orchid tubes on. I topped off tubes with Floralife water before all the roses were put into my friend’s fridge. All icebags went back into the deep freeze.

On Friday morning I repacked all of the roses for the drive to Shreveport where we arrived at 3 p.m. I left the bag with the roses on a table in the preparation hall until 4 a.m. Saturday when I finally unpacked them for the last time. I found that about half of my blooms were fully open and too far gone. As I had a tag placed on every bloom which showed when it was cut and how tight it was, I learned that Saturday’s and Sunday’s blooms with one row of petals down did not last. Instead only those cut really tight on Monday and Tuesday survived the four day ordeal.

As there were a record number of ‘Glowing Amber’ single specimen blooms entered by others, I used my best exhibition bloom for my winning “Mini Cycle of Bloom” entry. This “Best Bloom,” by the way, was one of three dry wrapped for two weeks which I revived in Oklahoma on Thursday night.

This experience was quite an adventure for me and it has taught me more than anything ever in my 16 years of exhibiting roses. It also shows to what length and/or distance a crazy exhibitor can travel with roses.

But I have done other crazy things before, like flying roses to England in 1984 and winning some seconds and thirds, or flying with roses to Toronto (5 hr. Flight), and winning three trophies at the 1985 W.F.R.S. Show. And, in 1996 I entered ‘Glowing Amber’ at two shows 30 miles apart on the same day. There, I left Canada at 2:30 a.m., arrived at Tacoma, Washington at 6 a.m., put in four entries winning “Mini Queen” and “Mini New Introduction.” At 6:45 a.m., I left again for the Olympia show, 30 miles south, and entered 'Glowing Amber' in every class possible there, winning “Mini Bloom Cycle” and “Best 3 Minis” in show.

Nonetheless, the Shreveport experience thought me that a four day travel with roses for exhibition was stretching it a bit far. But it was well worth all the trouble and effort I put into it.

George Mander
August 2001

( First published in the Spring 1998 Rose Exhibitors Forum, page 13 )
( Robert B. Martin, Jr., Editor )