Dahlia Mentors Program
Mentor Articles: My Mentors by Annie Radcliff
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
In a 1676 letter, Sir Isaac Newton wrote, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” When I was growing up, I remember many dahlia folks who hung out at our garden with my dad. They spent hours, sharing ideas, tubers and seed, always trying to improve their blooms, or working together in the dahlia societies in Everett and Seattle. They were always experimenting with one thing or another, whether it was soil amendments, staking options, disbudding strategies, pest or weed management, tuber storage, or stem and foliage development. They would compare their outcomes, and would discuss for hours how it worked out, or what things they might need to do differently things to make their flowers even better. Many of these people and those who have come after them have truly been giants in the world of dahlia growing.
My dad passed away in 2006, and since his death, his personal files have been sitting in boxes in a storage room in my mom’s basement. I needed to find some history for an article I was writing, so I pulled them out last week. I started sorting through his letters, news clippings, photos, reports, bulletins, programs and other artifacts of his very rich life in the wonderful world of dahlias. As I did this, I was struck by the sense that Dad, as well as his friends and growers that he corresponded with, readily embraced their role as mentors to each other, and especially to younger growers or new clubs. It reminded me that mentorship by other growers and groups has made a huge difference for me, as far as my own growth as a dahlia grower, club member and exhibitor.
It occurred to me that there must be hundreds of people out there who have inspired novice growers, whose stories should be told. Can you think of someone who has guided you as you have navigated the many challenges of cultivating and growing the best possible dahlias? Have you then “paid it forward” by mentoring someone else? What impact have people or groups had on your development or the growth of your society?
For most of my childhood, my mother subscribed to the Reader’s Digest, and when it arrived each month, I just couldn’t wait to read the regular feature entitled “My Most Unforgettable Person….” These first-person accounts of people who left a permanent, positive mark on their world were gripping and moving, and they tended to inspire me to try harder and be more helpful. True human experiences help to connect us, to find common ground. I, for one, would really love to hear about the people who have inspired and challenged you to raise the bar in your work and involvement in the dahlia world.
Please consider being the author of just such a story on www.dahlias.org. The stories wouldn’t need to be lengthy or complex – just the “Who, What, Where, When, How and So What” in regard to a dahlia person or persons who made a difference in your growth as a grower, hybridizer, cultivator, society leader or exhibitor. My experience in the dahlia world has shown me how very generous and sharing dahlia folk can be, and I don’t know where I would be without them. I’m sure you have someone who walked alongside you as you grew in your understanding of dahlia husbandry. Publishing such stories on the public section of our website could be a way of inspiring others who are considering stepping up their involvement, or joining a local society. Your story could influence them to “jump the broom” and go for it!
We would love to start this feature as soon as possible. If you have stood on the shoulders of a giant in the dahlia world, please consider telling us about your experience. Send your ideas to Linda DeRooy Holmes-Cook at email@example.com I’d love to hear from you!