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  Manitoba Lily Growers Form Group  
By Bill Gillis, Reprinted with permission of The Prairie Garden Committee, Winnipeg Horticultural Society

The old adage, "mighty oaks from little acorns grow'; may also apply to lilies - at least, to lily organizations. The story of the Manitoba Regional Lily Society goes back to a conversation between two people, Virginia Furitana and Wilbert Ronald, about the possibility of holding a meeting among those who were interested in growing lilies.

That conversation took place on August 31, 1982. In February of 1983 the meeting was held in Portage La Prairie in conjunction with the Manitoba Horticultural Association. Dr. Ronald and Lynn Collicutt led a summer tour of five lily growers in southern Manitoba and further conversation called for an educational seminar in the spring of 1984. Julius Wadekamper of Borboleta Gardens, Minnesota, came to give leadership in an educational lily seminar in Winnipeg on March 17, 1984

Was it the "luck of the Irish"? Whatever the reason, before that day ended, there were sixteen persons who joined the North American Lily Society (NALS), bringing the total number of Manitoba members to twenty-five. Those present were anxious to go beyond that. They were determined to form a Manitoba Regional Society As an Executive member of NALS, Julius Wadekamper, presided over the founding meeting of the Manitoba group and the election of its first executives. Wilbert Ronald was elected president and Lynn Collicutt was chosen as secretary Other officers elected were Pat Healy, vice president; Jim Russell, treasurer; and Bill Gillis, newsletter editor. The selection of directors was deferred to another meeting. Plans were made for another lily display and for a tour to the NALS meeting and show in Saskatoon the following July. By July 1984, the membership stood at forty. Initial thoughts about a lily organization centered on the need to provide information on growing and identification of lilies. That continues to be the central focus of the Society's work. It is our purpose to promote cultivation and awareness of the species lilium in Manitoba. We try to provide information for the beginner and encouragement and support for those who range from that point up to the professional~ We publish educational newsletters, sponsor seminars, have judging schools and shows, have established display plantings, and are involved in scientific research in the area of lily breeding~ We are currently involved in a fairly major tissue culture program. Our annual fall sale of lily bulbs has become, not only our major source of funds, but also the means of attracting hundreds of new growers throughout the province. At each of our summer shows there are scores of people who discover that there are more than "tiger lilies'; and that there are new lilies they want for their gardens. By our estimation we are succeeding in creating awareness, promoting the cultivation, and supporting research on the genus lilium. People from all walks of life and from all ages and stages find the Manitoba Regional Lily Society to be a gathering of friends who share a common love. Some of us like to exhibit, while others have little interest in that. Many are eager to grow some of the species lilies, which are hardy in this climate, and others want to try their luck with some of the exotic Orientals. There are those who like to grow from seed and some who do their own crosses. Others are more cautious and stick to growing the hardy Asiatics to beautify their garden and landscape.

 There is room for all us and a standing welcome for others to join us.