A CSSA Chapter
St. Louis, Missouri
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Major Storms Dampen Annual HSCS Show, Sale
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Even the elements challenged the July 15-23 Henry Shaw Cactus Society Show and Sale, as extreme heat and thunderstorms cut attendance and fund-raising sales for the club. Wind gusts up to 90 mph toppled trees and took down power lines at Missouri Botanical Garden and throughout St. Louis.
After the first wind blasts, half a million households lost electric power. Most of the club volunteers at the show had no power for much of the week. Some still had no power after the show ended. Others had no water service, either.
On July 21, garden staff temporarily closed the show and evacuated Orthwein Floral Display Hall as storm cells approached. Although the garden's power went down for the afternoon, the facility remained open.
"A team effort from long before start to finish, good planning and a real positive attitude took us through some rough days this year," Show Chairman Mike Hellmann said. "I think we instilled some depth in our group during this show."
The show began with a dedication to longtime HSCS member and mentor Dorothy Weitz, who attended with four generations of family members. "Some can paint, some can write, some can build rocket ships," Hellmann said during the ceremony. "Dorothy grows plants. It was a God-given gift."
Missouri Botanical Garden Executive Vice President Robert Herleth also congratulated Weitz, then presented the sweepstakes awards and officially opened the show.
The waiting crowd that streamed into the hall was greeted by some 500 entries in 150 show classes. Hellmann took first place in the sweepstakes competition and received the Dorothy Weitz Award for Best Cactus for his Mammillaria hahniana 'superba.' Pam Schnebelen was second in the sweepstakes. Her popular Fockea crispa took the Dorothy Weitz Award for Best Succulent. Michele Erickson barely edged Joe Robertson for third prize in the sweepstakes division.
Schnebelen's grouping of ariocarpus was selected as a Judges Choice. Notheis' brightly blooming Adenium obesum won another Judges Choice. Hellmann's tightly trimmed Portulacaria afra also took a Judges Choice from Chuck and Connie Staples, Hazel Zimmerman and Thomas Schwink.
Plants for Sale
Attendees came to shop, as well as admire the show entries. Vendors Bob Smoley of Gardenworld, LoWilla Wilson and Drummond Nursery offered a huge selection of sale plants with prices from $1 up. Large plants were especially popular this year.
After 30 years of commercial growing in eastern Oklahoma, Wilson said this would be her final sale. She said she will miss the annual HSCS event, but happily recognized a few plants on the show tables that she had previously sold.
Smoley's long trip from Florida brought more excitement than usual. Due to the storms, he and his son were stranded in a motel elevator for half an hour. Later, Smoley ran out of gas on the way to the show because all the stations he passed were out of gas or, without power, simply out of operation.
Garden Damaged, Chihuly OK
The storms also reduced attendance at Missouri Botanical Garden's Glass in the Garden exhibit of colorful glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly. Although fallen sections of large trees blocked pathways and smaller ornamental trees in the Japanese Garden were destroyed, the Chihuly pieces survived intact. Damage to the roof vents and windows of the historic Linnean House was being repaired as the HSCS event ended.
Despite initial logistical problems and the subsequent bad weather, Hellmann and co-chair Janet Kister called the 2006 Henry Shaw Cactus Society Show and Sale a success. In addition to a decent local turnout, guests from the Des Moines, Kansas City and Chicago CSSA chapters visited. More members than ever took an active part in planning and setting up the show. Better plants were on display, too.
"I believe the plant quality was the result of the society's focus in the last year on educational programs," Hellmann said. "Education Committee Chairwoman Pam Schnebelen's workshops, articles and drive were instrumental, as well as the focus on plants at each meeting, rather than business."
Kister is still dealing with post-show details, but said she will likely be back to help organize the club's 65th annual program. "I enjoyed working with the other members so much that the challenges and hectic pace didn't seem so bad," she said. "I think the results were worth it."
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