By Sue Andersen Berger
The anticipation was high Tuesday morning, September 10th, 2019. Deb Stephenson would soon pick me up and off we would go on a fabulous adventure!!!
Was it a trip to the Alameda Antiques Faire to buy “maybe unnecessary”, but “I want it anyway” vintage items? Or, was it the first day of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale? Not this time, and arguably even more fun (and certainly less expensive), we were going to the National Heirloom Seed Expo!!! This 3 day event, held in Santa Rosa at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds (not the Petaluma Fairgrounds as we found out) draws people from all over the country. The show began in 2011 and has increased in size with more speakers, vendors and exciting exhibits each year. I’ve only missed one.
Arriving, we each headed off in different directions to compare notes on what we saw later on.
1. Heirloom Rose booths.
This was an opportunity to purchase “old garden roses” so seldom seen and available, my favorites! I found 3 treasures: 2 hybrid musks, Felicia(1928) and Clytemnestra(1915) along with a hybrid perpetual, Miriam’s Pink Powderpuff. This last variety was renamed by Miriam Wilkins (founder of the Heritage Roses Group, Bay Area), whose French rose had lost its tag while en route to the US. The new name is most appropriate.
2. “Wild Boar Farms” exhibit.
It was my great luck to speak to the owner, Brad Gates, about the fabulous tomatoes that he has developed. I got the scoop on all the new and exciting tomato seeds that are available to grow next year. Got lots of fun seeds!
3. Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.
They have a beautiful and extensive catalog that you may have seen, featuring incredible varieties of everything edible. The representative explained that the company didn’t have sufficient quantities of select beans and squash to offer in their catalog so they decided to give them to the adventurous growers attending the show. I have lots of extra seeds to share with anyone would like to grow them next spring. Some varieties I have include: Zuni Gold Beans, Dolico-Occhio Nerone Beans, Caparron de la Roja Beans and Citrouille de la Touraine Squash.
4. Heirloom Tomatoes presentation by Karen Golden, a Michigan grower
She offered great advice based on extensive experience.
The “Take - Away”:
5. Deb attended a lecture on bees, (not honey bees) and was quite impressed. She would be happy to talk to you about this.
6. Dahlia Flower Show- WOW, some amazing blooms!
7. Exhibit hall featured a 15 foot pyramid of various winter squash and pumpkins, tables and tables of tomato varieties, watermelons, peppers, pears, apples and so much more.
8. Building with lots of vendors selling wonderful stuff you can’t live without. The Iris booth is fun!
9. Fabulous speakers on many topics:
10. Delicious Food Trucks!
Deb and I left completely overwhelmed, inspired and energized for the next growing season!
“HelpMeFind” online website to view photos, descriptions and sources of roses, peonies and clematis