Behind the scenes at the
2011 Glide Wildflower Show
Each year visitors to the show encounter a meticulous layout of
tables laden with a huge array of local wildflowers. The
plants may change, but the table layout is an identical pattern
year after year. Everything is neat and orderly. But only a
few days before the show, the building is filled with what looks
like total chaos. The effort it takes to amass over 600
different plants from all over the county, identify the specific family, genus, and
species names of each, place them in vases, and keep them alive for
almost a week is unimaginable unless you've been there to see it. This process is just short of a miracle.
Here's a very brief glimpse behind the scenes just days before the show. The things the general public never gets to see. This will give you a new appreciation for the effort it takes to put on this spectacular show.
To display more than 600 different species of plants you need more than 600 vases.
|There are tall vases, short vases, colorful vases, unique vases, clear glass vases. A LOT of vases.|
Those vases have been carefully wrapped and stored for the past year. They must be unwrapped and arranged by size or color on tables. They sit ready and waiting.
Then the flowers begin to arrive. Ice chest after ice chest of nature's little treasures. Once collected, the flowers must be kept cold and in the dark. These are steps taken to prevent or postpone wilting as much as possible.
Some collectors bring in only one or two chests. Others may bring in 10 or 15. Each plant is carefully removed and then identified. Though the collectors are not botanist, they certainly know their stuff. Plant names and collecting locations are written on labels and attached to the specimens. The identification takes a lot of time and effort.
Notice how many of these people are using reference books as they labor to get accurate identifications for the plants.
Identify the plant. Label the plant. Move it to the right table. The process is repeated over and over a lot more than 600 times. Some plants are collected by multiple individuals. Each collector identifies the plants they collected. For most plants, there are several individual specimens collected. That pushes the number of plants to be identified way over a thousand.
Of course, there are always plants that can't be given a positive identification. They must be set aside for the botanists to identify.
Everyone spend lots of time trying to make sure the identification is absolutely correct.
Some plants need a little extra TLC. The shock of being violently removed from the forest is almost more than the plant can handle. Here and there a plant will be encased in a plastic hood to help retain moisture. Continually more flora life is added to each container to replenish what the plants have sucked up. Every possible measure is taken to help the plants survive through the show.
The process of labeling and verifying identification goes on for a couple days. Then the botanist arrive and double check the plants already identified and soon there are no mystery plants left.
Some plants are either not blooming during the time of the show, or are endangered and can't be collected. Photos of these plants are displayed because it is the only way they can be part of the show.
And the kitchen has to be prepared for the messy job of vasing. Once all of the plants have been identified, they are put into vases and returned to their table. There a label identifying the plant's common name, scientific name, family and statewide location is added.
With a lot of work, this
turns into this
As the collectors were busily unpacking their plants someone called out, "Come see! We found a darlingtonia!" A unique plant was found this year. Its common name is pitcher plant. This carnivore was the hit of the show.