SAN DIEGO GERANIUM CONFERENCE 2016 Reported by Wayne Handlos
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
1.Brenda Archer 2.Cynthia Pardoe 3.John Schoustra 4.Robin Parer 5.Debbie Lipp
& Brenda’s mom, Kate & Ken Byrne & Jerry Stewart
6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
6. Bill Lemke 7. Patricia Andrea 8.Jay Kapac 9. Sandy Connerley 10. George & Geri Plaisted
& Jean Hausermann
The San Diego Geranium Society hosted the Sixth Annual Geranium Conference on April 2, 2016 at
the San Diego Botanic Garden (formerly the Quail Botanical Gardens). The Garden was a lovely venue
(although we didn’t have time to explore it), nicely landscaped and well-maintained. The garden emphasis
is on water conservation and sustainability; 18 "Water Smart" gardens are featured. The garden has easy
access to the Freeway and is many miles north of the city of San Diego. The conference was held in the
Ecke Building (the Ecke family of poinsettia and Ranunculus fame) with large stained glass panels of quails.
The Club organized a very educational program with six speakers covering a wide range of topics. Wayne
Handlos began with "The Other (Mostly) Zonals"; he was followed by Sandy Connerley whose topic was
an intriguing "The Untold Story of the World’s First …"; the morning session ended with George Plaisted’s
tips and views of "Watering".
The afternoon session began with Robin Parer’s presentation of "Endangered Geraniaceae"; she was followed
by Cynthia Pardoe’s "Update on the Pelargonium Preservation Project" who was followed by Brenda Archer
and a talk on "Regals of David Lemon." A raffle concluded the activities of the day.
refreshment area for drinks and food. The tables were decorated with Pelargonium
plants and each place had a "swag bag" (red shopping bag printed with the club name
and conference date). Included were a note holder and a sheet of recipes using scented geraniums. On
the shaded terraces surrounding the building, tables were set up for the vendors selling plants. The large
commercial vendors included Geraniaceae (Robin Parer) and Greenwood Nursery (John Schoustra).
Smaller vendors included Debbie Lipp and Bill Lemke (with his and Zelda Leach’s plants). Jay Kapac
introduced three new cultivars, ‘Queen of Orange’ which is of the Unique type, ‘My Valentine’, which
is an early flowering regal and another of the Unique type.
"The Other (mostly) Zonal Pelargoniums" was a comprehensive survey of the variety of zonal geraniums
beyond the standard red-flowered bedding plant. The plants were considered under the category of bio-
logical mechanisms determining their characteristics. These included the basic genetic systems – dominant
and recessive characteristics (bird’s egg flowered Pelargoniums, red/green leaf coloration), incomplete
dominance (cactus-flowered Pelargoniums), multiple alleles (leaf and flower petal patterns), groups with
no reported genetic research (formosa and stellar zonals), floral control genetics (single, semi-double,
double, rosebud and green flowers), transposons and jumping genes (New Life, speckled and paint-box
zonals), chimeras (white and gold margined leaves, butterfly leaf patterns, marbled variegation; ‘Mr. Wren',
tulip-flowered zonals, carnation-flowered Pelargoniums); virus induced characters (leaf-clearing virus, flower
-streak virus); interspecific crosses (yellow-flowered pelargoniums influenced byP. quinquelobatum or
P. articulatum; P. acetosum-influenced cultivars; P. tongaense-influenced cultivars).
This talk was followed by Sandy Connerley with a history of the Frank Andrea family, their businesses and
ultimately their production, patenting and introduction of three tulip-flowered zonal pelargonium cultivars. Finally
she solved the mystery of the girl who was pictured on the cover of GATW (v. 14, n. 4, 1967). The girl was
Patricia Andrea for whom the first patented tulip-flowered zonal was named. After other family members
declined the honor of having a plant named after them, the only girl among six grandchildren was chosen as
the namesake for the tulip-flowered zonal.
Lunch was delayed because of an accident on Hwy. 5 which slowed the traffic in which the catering truck was
travelling. So it was decided that George Plaisted would give his tips and advice about watering plants in general
and Pelargoniums in particular. He then answered questions about perlite and pumice. He thought each had
its place (and he sold both to garden clubs).
After a delicious lunch of dinner rolls, the freshest Caesar salad, perfectly cooked fresh asparagus, roasted
chicken breast with peach garnish and sauce, mashed potatoes, and a world-class chocolate on chocolate
on chocolate cake, the meeting resumed.
Robin Parer (Geraniaceae Nursery) gave a thought-provoking talk on "Endangered Geraniaceae". This
covered all the genera in the family: Pelargonium, Geranium, Monsonia including Sarcocaulon, Erodium.
She considered the factors of habitat destruction, land clearing, animal damage and climate change. She then
covered the factors of excess collecting, difficulty of cultivation, import restrictions, difficulty in finding
various plants and cultivars. She then explained about loss of cultivars through exuberant propagation and
naming of minimal variation citing the cases of 87 names for cultivars of Geranium pratense, 109 cultivars
of G. phaeum, and 80 of G. sanguineum. In the case of scented Pelargoniums there is confusion of the
taxonomy and a plethora of scents (to say nothing of differing abilities to detect various fragrances). The
loss of small family nurseries has meant the loss of locally adapted cultivars. In addition, disease organisms
ike the bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum which causes bacterial wilt in tomatoes, tobacco, pelargonium,
potato and banana, have resulted in prohibition of the importation of plants in these groups. She emphasized
again the need for gardeners and growers to label (and retain the label) of their various plants so that identities
are not lost.
Cynthia Pardoe gave an update on the Pelargonium Preservation Project and noted the contributions of Jean
Hausermann (enthusiastic and appreciative ovation), Jordan Nursery, Bernice Ladroot, David Lemon,
G. Stewart and Lloyd Smith among others.
Brenda Archer paid tribute to the commercial cultivars of David Lemon and the beautiful and extensive display
of these plants at Balboa Park. Sadly, the plants were mowed down and eventually removed even though the
plants had enhanced the beauty of the park immeasurably.