Submitted by Tommy Fulton, Contributing Editor
Call to Order: The meeting was called to order by John Dukes.
K. C. Constantine gave the invocation, followed by Tommy Blankenship, who led us in song and the Pledge. Bill Oppenheimer accompanied on the piano.
Introduction of Guests & Visitors: Tom Martenstein introduced our guests along with visiting Rotarians.
Jeff Luther introduced our student guest, Cailyn Clemons from Davidson High School.
Announcements: Ken Niemeyer discussed the Neighborhood Library project which has 14 libraries. Our partner is Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Program: Tom McGehee introduced our speaker, Bill Barrick, who is the Executive Director for Bellingrath Gardens and Home. His topic was, “Mums and Magic.”
Mr. Barrick opened his talk by mentioning how important the months of November and December are for the Gardens. Forty percent of their income occurs during those two months. The Christmas display and the Mums show have attracted huge crowds. Bellingrath has the nation’s largest display of outdoor cascading chrysanthemums. Because of our “late-freeze” dates, our mums can be grown outdoors in large quantities.
The mums are displayed in various formations including, 400 cascades, 120 columns, 20 hanging baskets and 18 spheres. There are 4,000 2-gallon mums throughout the grounds. These mums come from China and are designed to bloom in November, unlike domestic garden mums. The great variety of mums allows for a large variety of colors and shapes.
Bellingrath uses indoor lighting to “trick” their mums into producing buds by simulating longer daytimes. The growing process begins in January. After four months indoors, they are taken outside. Mr. Barrick then explained the methodology used for various types of displays.
Our speaker talked about the “Magic Christmas in Lights” display, which has been a tremendous crowd-pleaser. This feature takes place from November 24th until December 31st. They use 3 million lights, 35 miles of mini-lights and over 5 miles of steel and more than 7,700 extension cords. The actual lighting process is the most laborious part of preparation. Interestingly, China is changing their production from “mini-lights” to LED lighting. This will eventually change the process.
After a question and answer session, John Dukes thanked Mr. Barrick for his presentation and presented a certificate to him, noting that a donation in his honor had been made to the Rotary International Foundation.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 pm.