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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gardening Competitions

I’m amazed at the number of opportunities that gardeners have to compete against each other. County fairs, state fairs, rose-daylily-orchid-name-the-flower shows, pumpkin weigh offs and more allow gardeners to compete for the most perfect, prettiest, biggest, tallest, tastiest, smallest of any number of flowers, vegetables, fruits, and plants.

Yet, the paradox of gardeners is that after competing to win that blue ribbon or certificate or maybe just some bragging rights, the winning gardener will often turn right around and offer cuttings, seeds, tips and techniques, and other help to fellow gardeners who will use those offerings to compete against them in the next competition.

When I think of friendly competition, I think of gardeners!

Here at May Dreams Gardens, I’ve hosted a few “friendly competitions”, most often when I think I’ve grown a real winner, of course.

Last summer, I posted that I had grown the “tiniest tomato” and soon several others got into the spirit of competition until Chigiy at Gardeners Anonymous beat us all with her currant tomatoes.
Then in a comment, she offered to send me some of the seeds from her winning tomatoes.

See what I mean? We gardeners like to compete, but we like to help others compete with us.

Why?

I can not come up with a logical reason. Maybe it can’t really be explained.

I’m just happy that gardeners are willing to share with other gardeners not just plants and seeds, but knowledge gained from experience and observation, from their own failures and successes in both the garden and in life.

Now, who would like to join me in a few friendly gardening competitions this summer? Would you like those competitions to be announced in advance or just to pop up periodically on my blog like this one...

Who has a prettier, fancier, more exotic looking flower than my night blooming cereus?

No, it isn't blooming right now, that picture above is from this past fall. Right now is its more or less dormant time. I give it very little water and no fertilizer in the winter. I let it get pot-bound as that is one of the secrets to getting it to bloom when you grow it entirely indoors.

See what I mean. I just helped others compete with me to get their indoor grown night blooming cereus to bloom. We gardeners just can't help ourselves from helping others.

18 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I like the idea of Pop-up competitions. What ever pops into your creative, competitive mind. I can't wait to see a blossom more anything than your cereus blossom.

kate said...

I'll be curious to see what you come up with! I have always enjoyed the cooperative spirit of gardeners.

Curtis said...

Me too count me in. Just let us know!

Chigiy beat us hands down with the tiny tomato. I would like another chance at that one this year.

vonlafin said...

If you added stinkiest to that list I would definitely win with my blog from last week on my Vodoo plant. ;)

Frances said...

You are an inspiration to us all, Carol. Bring it!

Frances said...

Come see my entry to the most exotic flower contest?

Frances at Faire Garden

Rosehaven Cottage said...

That is one gorgeous flower!!!! I don't think I can top that!

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Layanee said...

Such a clear white! You are right about gardeners and the spirit of sharing which also transcends to the growers. I worked for a grower years ago and the owner of a competitive business came by to visit. They shared tales and plants! Very interesting business. I don't know if the big, major growers would do that. I think not but that was a nice lesson in sharing! Always an interesting post, Carol!

nikkipolani said...

Wow. What a gorgeous gorgeous bloom. I loved reading your post about the generosity of gardeners. I think it's because of the innate bounty of gardens.

CommonWeeder said...

Carol,
that is one stupendous bloom! I agree with you about the generosity of gardeners. At our little country fair in Heath I always enjoy listening to the winners of the best zinnia, marigold, lily etc talking to other entrants about their secrets. There is no real jealousy over the blue ribbons, just an enjoyable spirit of competition that spurs us on to next year. Thanks.

Dawn said...

Oh, what a beautiful night blooming cereus! No way I could compete withat that, but I'll be watching what others come up with.

I do think it's a very good thing gardeners cooperate the way they do. If you study the history and development of agriculture over the ages you'll see it was only successful because of cooperation. People could not learn how to raise plants alone. This was a group effort from the very beginning and was what really helped create early civilization. Personally, I think gardeners are programmed to cooperate. There are exceptions, of course. ;-)

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

It would be hard to judge the stinkiest or best smelling blooms, but I think other competitions are fun. The only thing I have to compete with your stunning flower is my tree peony blossom here: http://mcgregorsdaughter.blogspot.com/2007/12/gardening-year-in-review-underachievers.html.

Melinda said...

Carol, love this post. I've recently begun training to be a Master Gardner, and I am amazed how 45 people in a room can come from very different backgrounds, but immediately bond because of their common love of gardening.

I also just began a challenge for my readers, and I am so impressed by how supportive they are of one another. They come from all over the world, and yet there is a common desire to help one another. It is truly lovely.

And LOL: YES, if I can compete with my mostly fruit and vegetable garden, I'm certainly game for a good competition!

Tina said...

Carol,
came across these and think you really, really need some!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/73872182@N00/
Aren't they the cutest?! Might be nice topic for a competition, too. lol. Who says it has to be plants - most gardeners are pretty darn crafty.

rusty in miami said...

Great idea, I think I my night blooming cereus is ready for some competition.

Carol said...

Lisa at Greenbow, I guess that's why they call the cereus, "the queen of the night". No one beats the queen!

Kate, I also love how gardeners are so willing to help each other out.

Curtis, I can't guarantee that we will repeat the tiniest tomato contest, but give it a try, 'just in case'.

Vonlafin, No doubt, you would win "stinkiest flower" but do you want to? LOL

Frances, it looks like you are bringing it with that orchid you posted. But I still think my night bloomer wins!

Rosenhaven Cottage, The night bloomer is a stunner and it smells so sweet when it blooms.

Layanee, That is a great lesson in sharing. Thanks for inspiring us with it.

Nikkipolani, Yes, the generosity of gardeners often starts with the bounty of the garden. Who wants some zucchini this summer?

Commonweeder, How true that gardeners often have an 'enjoyable' spirit.

Dawn, What a wonderful thought and history lesson!

Mr. McGregor's Daugher, Really, do you think a tree peony can beat a night blooming cereus, "the queen of the night"? It's a good try!

Melinda, There will be many vegetable competitions, well at least more than one, later this summer. Looking foward to seeing how you compete!

Tina, those are cute, and you are right that the competitions don't always have to be about the flowers.

Rusty in Miami, No fair, your night bloomer is outside and has multiple blooms at a time. Mine is a special one, grown entirely indoors! Don't make me have too many rules so I win!!

All, thanks for the comments and demonstrating the cooperation of gardneners!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Mary said...

I broke into a smile when I remembered your "tiniest tomato" competition. Too funny!

Carol said...

Mary, Thanks! Always happy to have made someone smile. Summer memories of the garden make me smile all winter long, especially on cold days like this one!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens