President's Message from the Current Newsletter

October, 2017

Barry's Beat

Hosta 'World Cup'

Hosta 'World Cup'
2018 Hosta of the Year

I was approached by more than several fellow members following the August meeting and again at the Fall Banquet questioning why I was moving to downtown Chicago. I was happy to tell all that this represents one of several lifelong dreams. I have been an active gardener since I was a young boy. I recall, at the age of six, asking a neighbor for starts of strawberry plants that she was thinning and throwing away from her huge strawberry patch. I thought it a waste to not see those little plants find a new home. She agreed, and gave me about fifty plantlets that I took home. I asked my father to till and mound up a bed, and then I planted and watered them, tending them for years and enjoying their fruits every June. Long after I had gone away to college, Viet Nam, and eventually moving to Illinois, my parents continued to enjoy “my” strawberries.

I also recall that at the age of, maybe four, while visiting my grandpa, I walked next door to an older lady’s house to admire a bush that sported the loveliest pink flowers in the spring. (My siblings would not go next door with me, as they were convinced that she was a witch. Funny how kids make up things.) Anyway, this lovely lady, who usually chased kids away, took a liking to me. When the family returned to visit grandpa a few weeks later, she beckoned me next door to her home, where she had waiting for me a small pot with a start of that beautiful bush, no longer in bloom, but promised by her to bloom every spring. I proudly took my new gift home and, I imagine, with the help of my father, planted it in the front yard of our house. I never knew what the plant was named, so we all just called it “Barry’s Bush”. Starts of that plant have gone with me to every home I have owned over the years. I was now faced with a dilemma. One cannot grow Barry’s Bush on the 19th floor on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Not to fear. My son and daughter-in-law, having heard the history of the plant offered to take a start of the plant to grow in their Chicago yard, with my grandchildren promising to continue the tradition by taking starts to their own homes when they are grown. By the way, when I became an adult, I did some research and found that “Barry’s Bush” is dwarf pink flowering almond (Prunus glandulosa 'Rosea Plena').

Having spent the greater part of sixty years as an active gardener, I find myself at the point in life that I wish to pursue some of my other interests. I am not giving up on gardening. I am just giving up on doing the work of gardening. From my apartment, I cross the street to a 319-acre park, called Grant Park. It is as beautiful as any garden I have ever attempted to maintain, and it is maintained by the Chicago Park District. I enjoy, they work. As important as is the park, my other interests are now steps away as well. Symphony Hall is one block to the north. The Auditorium Theater, with its ballet performances, is one block to the south. The Art Institute of Chicago is across the street and one block north. Theaters featuring Broadway in Chicago performances are within walking distance. The Lyric Opera House is the most distant from our apartment, but is still within walking distance in good weather.

Given my love for Art, Theater, Music, Ballet, Opera, and gardens, could there be any better place to retire? I think not.

I plan to continue my volunteer work in Hosta Societies. I am just no longer growing hostas. I will continue to serve as webmaster for CIHS and MRHS. I am currently President of MRHS, and I am VP Publications for AHS. My love of plants and the people who love plants is unchanged. What has changed is that I no longer labor physically to enjoy my love of gardens.

I thank you, the members of the Central Illinois Hosta Society, for the opportunity to be of some small measure of service to your organization. I may not see you as often, but I will be behind the scenes, taking care of the website and making sure that information you want is only a click away.

Happy to have served you.

Barry Ankney

CIHS President