It is with great delight that I am writing this column. Unlike one or maybe two times previous where I was stuck on what to write about, I have so much to cover from the West Region Regional Meeting that was held on April 4. The meeting was held in conjunction with the West Coast Pack Trials and Sakata, American Takii and Goldsmith Seed companies were our hosts. Such a terrific program they planned for the ASCFG flower growers. We also took a slight detour and made one extra stop at Headstart Nursery. Tons of information was to be had.
    
Only 8 flower growers took advantage of this great program but we are planning to have next year’s Regional Meeting in the West with the same format. Plan accordingly, I promise you will not be disappointed.
    
I want to say it is my impression that a good number of folks do not realize the immense resource the seed companies are for growers. Seed companies don’t just produce seed for new varieties, they want growers to succeed and they have lots of technical information available on aspects of growing. These seed companies and their representatives who work with the ASCFG— Kathy Cron, Bonnie Marquardt and Jeannine Bogard—put great effort in making the ASCFG feel most welcome. Pack Trials are not all about showing off new varieties.
    
The plant breeders were all available at each of these companies and they wanted information from us, the growers. I know one plant breeder asked the group what would we, as growers, consider the most important trait for a successful cut flower? Of course, we all had a different answer: Dave Dowling, our ASCFG president, quickly answered “short crop time”.  This is so true, if we can get our flowers in and grown and blooming in a short time, we can get more to market. There are many traits that we look for in growing the perfect cut flower. I was impressed that the plant breeders respected our opinions and asked us questions. This is an important information exchange and an important purpose of Regional Meetings.   
    
At each of the tour stops we were treated to the greatest displays of blooming flowers.  Not all the varieties were cut flower varieties but each company specifically tailored a tour for the cut flower growers and we were able to talk with their plant breeders about what they are working on in the cut flower arenas. All the companies had a good selection of their cut flower varieties blooming for a great comparison session. What a creative day for my mind, considering all kinds of new ideas and varieties.
    
Packed in among all the varieties were tons information on performance trials of the varieties as well as growing tips. I have indeed neatly filed these in my office. I also want to tell you about an internet resource that I found out about at the meeting. You may be interested in putting on your ‘web favorites’ list.  www.infoflora.com is an informational website loaded with industry information and statistics. The website currently has a database of over 2000 varieties.  Given the popularity of the ASCFG’s own Bulletin Board, I think many of you will find this an interesting and helpful site.
    
One thing that struck me in our tours was that with Pack Trials, the companies are showcasing their varieties and they had great ideas for just that—showcasing. As a direct marketer of flowers, I felt there were tremendous ideas for how to display flowers. These ideas could easily be translated to making booths at farmers’ markets or flower displays at stores into ones that customers would be immediately drawn to.  It’s that old adage; you never know where you will get that next good idea.
    
Finally, I must comment on the absolute amazing hospitality of our tour hosts. As flower growers we toil away and yes, occasionally wonder if anyone appreciates our efforts. The West Regional Meeting was a day to make you, as a flower grower, feel that you are appreciated. In addition to the feast for our eyes and our minds, our tummies were happy that day as well. To Kathy, Bonnie, Jeannine and all your staff who put on such a great day, I can’t thank you enough and am already looking forward to next year’s meeting. I know I came home a better flower grower.