North American Dahlia Society

Dahlia Mentors Program

Previous Mentor Articles

My Mentors by Annie Radcliff
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
A Very Special Friend and Mentor

Dahlia Mentors

Steve and Sandy Boley pay tribute to Richard Rejman 

Betty and Richard Rejman

There are many types of mentors, and Sandy and I have been very lucky to have had many. Some have coached us in writing about dahlia breeding. Some have been people we see or saw regularly. One has been through communications through letters, the Internet and the telephone. One thing that was common to all of our mentors was their willingness to share what they had learned about dahlias with others. In turn, Sandy and I have tried to share the information we have learned with other dahlia growers.

We first heard of Richard Rejman when we read about Rejman’s Firecracker in Dahlias of Today. Rejman’s Firecracker was introduced in 1997 but was not available from any commercial growers in our area. So, I wrote to Richard to see how we could get
Rejman’s Firecracker. Richard wrote back and said that he would be happy to send us one. We then began contacting each other on a regular basis, most of the time by phone.

Richard didn’t just send us Rejman’s Firecracker but also R J R, Radar, and Carol Ann S. That was the start of his influence on the flowers that we breed. We were soon to be introduced to Richard’s wife, Betty, and began to learn that they both had a love of dahlias
that is simply infectious. Having a Senior Judge from another part of the country to talk to became important to me so that I could learn how dahlias were grown and judged in another area. We found R J R to be a very consistent flower, making it excellent breeding stock. For instance, R J R is the seed parent of SB’s Sunny and Sir Richard. The latter was named for Richard Rejman. We have also used Carol Ann S as a pollen parent for bicolor flowers. We had bred Carol Ann S to Cornell and got Sharky, a bicolor ball. When Ted and Margaret Kennedy in Oregon were looking for flowers to breed bicolors, we sent them Carol Ann S.

Richard’s introduction, Radar, became a flower that had a big influence on Sandy and me. This flower was unique in that it was a bicolor and also variegated, and this piqued our interest in breeding these types of dahlias. When we needed a project for our senior judging status we decided to try to breed a flower that was both variegated and also bicolor. It was successful, and we are continuing our efforts in this area. In 2010 we introduced Daffy, which is a variegated bicolor laciniated cultivar with Rejman’s Firecracker as the pollen parent.

Being of Polish extraction, Richard named his most popular origination, Rejman’s Polish Kid. This gave me the idea of naming my flowers for my Irish heritage. That is where Irish Speckles, Irish Miss and the other Irish introductions started.

In 2007 when the National Dahlia Show was in the Chicago area, Sandy and I took time to drive over to Michigan to spend the day with Betty and Richard. This was the first time that we had been able to meet face to face, and we had a delightful day with them. We are sure that Betty and Richard and their flowers have been an influence on many dahlia growers in Michigan and other parts of the country. We owe a debt of gratitude to them for their advice and friendship throughout the years, and we consider them our dahlia mentors.