Rock and other gardeners around the world should be grateful to Carol Clark.
She is a treasure for the Ontario Rock Garden & Hardy Plant Society (ORG&HPS); and for anyone who grows seeds, the germination guide she created is used worldwide.
Carol started growing seeds from available sources over 20 years ago. However, she found she needed more germination information for rock garden plants in particular. The available books were in short supply, and the internet had fewer leads than it does today.
In 2002, she suggested compiling data and sharing it with ORG&HPS members. She volunteered to do this and combed through multiple resources, communicated with alpine experts around the world and experienced rock garden society members to compile an enormous list of information on germinating seeds, now available as the online germination guide on the ORG&HPS website. The list is used to create germination codes for seeds in the seed exchange, providing members with easy access to the information they need to germinate their seeds.
At first, only 30% of the seeds in the ORG&HPS seed exchange had germination codes. By 2016, only 1% lacked codes. Information today is easier to find by internet searches. Carol asked seed exchange recipients to send in their experiences, especially from varying regions. She also requested pictures for the germination page on the website. If a plant has no germination code, she requests growers to send in their successes and failures. Leftover seed with unknown germination requirements is distributed for research, with Carol often testing them herself.
Recently, she has been concerned about a group of seeds that refuse to germinate because they have been stored dry. Requesters don’t receive them till mid-January and its too late for them to germinate. Carol found these seeds were now called hydrophilic. Some call them recalcitrant or ephemeral. She researched and wrote an article explaining the problem and including a list of these seeds which are likely to be submitted to seed exchanges; the article has been published in the ORG&HPS Journal and in this issue of the NARGS Quarterly.
Carol makes sure information about ordering seed goes to the ORG&HPS Journal, proofreads the seed exchange, contacts donors for clarification, checks for changes in nomenclature, monitors online ordering, updates and maintains the seed exchange webpage, and is in constant communication with the webmaster. She also deals with innumerable questions from the public worldwide ranging from “Do any of your members grow Hylomecon japonicum?” (A request from Japan) to “Why don’t you use common names?” Those who request to buy seed are encouraged to look at the NARGS and ORG&HPS seed exchanges and then join.
It was logical for her to combine the job with that of Membership Secretary. She keeps track of members, gives out statistics, encourages renewals, and points out that there are more resources if they join NARGS. She also works on our informative Members Handbook, produced annually. This gives information about other rock garden societies and suppliers in Canada, the United States, and other countries across the world.
ORG&HPS hosted a NARGS Winter Study Weekend a few years ago. Carol helped in the organization of that event and will be Registrar when NARGS comes to Toronto for the Annual Meeting in 2022.
Carol well deserves the NARGS Award of Merit.