Several years ago, I started working in my horticulture club’s greenhouse to pull together our annual Spring Sale. As I put together that first order of seeds, cuttings, and plants, I gravitated toward the cultivars that I was familiar with from working at a greenhouse in high school and from my own garden. Often these cultivars were time-tested standbys, things that might have been on the market since before I was born.
Today, as I walked through the display greenhouses, I was reminded of this by seeing these familiar series as improvements were made, or colors where added. It made me think about the history of these plants, both in the industry, and in my own life.
Dr. Allan Armitage must be psychic, because the next thing I know, he is talking to a tour group about the origin of a well-known series. To me, these stories are incredibly valuable. They are rarely written down and often only exist in the minds of the people that experienced these moments. These stories are the ones that document the history of our industry, and it makes me sad that more people in our line of work are not always aware of these histories. By no fault of their own, they just aren’t always available to them.
These stories are what connects these plants to the people that made them; they ground our industry to the people and places that have changed our industry. Many of these moments may not seem significant. They might seem like just another day of work as a plant breeder, trial coordinator, marketer, grower, or gardener, but they make up a major portion of our history.
Something that I have always found enthralling is histories, but the thing with the past is it rarely exists solely in the past. Our history forms the foundation of our present, and in this industry, history is always around us. We are blessed to have many companies that have existed for several years, decades, and more in some cases. These companies, people, and families make up the legacy that the California Spring Trials is a part of.
Not only are the trials an amazing exhibition of what is up-and-coming in the industry, it is also a time where the industry gathers, connections are made, and stories are exchanged. It’s definitely a place where I have made connections with people I had no idea I would ever meet.
I think that is one of the special things about the trials; it is a time where the industry can gather and celebrate the past through stories and shared histories, while looking on the future.