MRHS President's Message

Fall, 2021

Greetings fellow hostaphiles. Being the new kid on the block let me start by introducing myself. I have met at least some of you while stationed behind a vending table at an MRHS or AHS convention, or maybe when speaking to your local hosta club. Or maybe in KC when I co-hosted the 2017 MRHS convention. More recently I have transitioned from being a hosta grower to a tissue culture lab. And while I have served on the board at the local level and at the national (AHS) level, this is my first stint at the regional level, so I ask for your patience as I come up to speed. Luckily, I am blessed to be surrounded by well-seasoned MRHS board members who know the ropes.

I soooooo look forward to introducing myself in person. It has been way too long since we were all able to come together face to face for a hosta event. And during this time of relative lockdown, we have lost some of our dear hosta friends and MRHS members. The recent passing of Jack Barta (while I was still reeling from the passing of Gary Lindheimer at Naylor Creek) hit me especially hard. It just reinforced the old notion that an interest in hostas is what initially brings us together, but it is the people that keep bringing us back. It really comes down to those life-long relationships that get formed, all as a result of a "silly plant". I will certainly miss hanging with Jack during hosta events but am re-committed to truly savor the time that we as individuals and as a collective hosta society spend together in the future.

And speaking of the future, I hope for some return to normalcy in the hosta world. And yet planning for future events ensures an emotional roller coaster ride of ups and downs. Shortly after our summer virtual annual membership meeting in June we began planning for an in person 2022 Winter Symposium event. At the time COVID case rates were trending down nationally and things looked encouraging. Shortly thereafter the delta variant kicked in and COVID case rates began to rise again. Now case rates are trending back down again and we hope and pray that trend continues. Long story short, we know we can't predict the future, but we plan while hoping for the best. We have set the date and finalized negotiations with the hotel. Thanks to Glenn Harold for being our local "boots on the ground" in dealing with the hotel. Mary Schwartzbauer has our speaker lineup set. Jim Morrow has agreed to chair the seed sales and silent auction. Jeff Moore will be donating some of his prized seedlings for the silent auction. Wisconsin Hosta Society President Phillip Timm will take care of our Friday evening hostatality event. And Dave Collura will again be handling registration. It amazes me that Jack Barta singlehandedly took care of many of these activities himself. Luckily when it "takes a village" we have a number of willing and able volunteers to help. In the meantime, you can trust that we will monitor local, state and federal health guidelines to help keep everyone safe.

Our Winter Symposium will be held at the same venue as our last event in 2020 - the Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel. For any of you football fans, the date (Sat Feb 5, 2022) was specifically chosen as it is the off week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. A Winter Symposium informational brochure may be found in this newsletter as well as a registration form. The same info will be posted on the MRHS website. I encourage you to register early.

I look forward to seeing you in Milwaukee in February.

Rob Mortko
MRHS President
16370 W. 138th Terr
Olathe, KS 66062
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