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Tropical Fern & Exotic Plant Society - Annual Auction - 2015

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Palmarum

Tropical Fern & Exotic Plant Society

Annual Auction

Monday evening - October 26th, 2015

 

Garden House auditorium - Fairchild TB Garden - Miami, Florida

- 6:49PM - The night had finally come. I think everyone in attendance had anticipation for what might show up in the auction this evening. Jeff Searle, his son Travis and I ventured to the meeting together and arrived at the same time as the plants were being added to the tables. I figured seating would be in short supply so I claimed a corner chair with my camera bag, first thing.

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- The selection was overwhelming. I picked a table at random and started browsing.

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- I had foreseen knowledge of certain rare items that were going to be in the auction and I made sure I looked for them. Without having to look far I found the stunning specimen of Pentagonia wendlandii that was donated by Marie Nock of Ree Gardens. It was by far, one of the rarer plants of the evening.

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- I was expecting maybe a one gallon or smaller sized plant, but this was a large 3 gal. specimen and it was flawless. The color was very intense and the white veining in the leaves stood out from across the room.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- Aroids had a strong presence at the auction. A finely grown example of Anthurium regale awaited bids and onlookers. That plastic bag to the left was filled with moist sand and held an exotic plant. I will let your imagination handle that one.

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- A complete ecosystem in a pot, ready to go. A water lily, Nymphaea capensis var. 'Dwarf Blue' complete with future Leopard Frogs, via abundant tadpoles. I wasn't sure if it was producing the bloom or it was from another plant and was stuck in the pot. Any plant can show up for auction and seeing an aquatic plant was a welcome surprise.

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- Jeff brought an assortment of different plants, including a Chambeyronia macrocarpa

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- It was sporting a red new leaf.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 6:53PM - As plants arrived, tables were filled. Society members kept having to set up more tables to keep up with the influx. At one point, they had to ask Fairchild staff members for any spare tables they could find. The selection was strongly Fern and Croton related. The rare and unusual spanned into those two groups as well as palms, tropical flowering trees, aroids, heliconia relatives, bromeliads and more. As attendees arrived, they registered for a bidding paddle; a paper plate with a number drawn upon it.

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- Plant tables spanned the far wall and rounded the corner. The food spread was being assembled, complete with a Halloween theme.

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- Ferns big and small were part of the auction. One of the massive tree ferns of the world, Angiopteris angustifolia*, was part of the selection.

*When I went to double check the spelling of the name I noticed there was a recent shakeup within the genus Angiopteris, involving name changes with this species. I am not a fern person by any definition so I left the name as is, but the info source is legitimate. After tracking things down, apparently A. angustifolia was lumped in with A. palmiformis, which in turn was lumped in with A. evecta, which in turn was lumped in with A. yunnanensis. [phew] With that complexity, I left the name as is.

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- A well-grown, plaque-mounted specimen of Microsorum linguiforme.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 6:56PM - As I was going through the selection, I was getting an education on Ferns as I went from plant to plant. Learning the different genera was the fun part. This particular fern, Pleocnemia irregularis, caught my eye.

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- It had a great form to the pinnate fronds. The pinnae have really nice, delicate, scallop-shaped edges.

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- One of the very large, broad leaves of a Kavalama urens, a Fairchild donation. It was propagated from seed collected from the gardens' own plant that recently flowered for the first time. The leaves get even larger and emerge bright red in color. The monotypic genus is native to India where it grows as an upright tree. Mature trees produce burgundy-red inflorescences. It was one of the key plants of the evening, selling for over $130.00.

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- Travis and Jeff browse the selection. Jeff was one of the evenings auctioneers and he was preparing.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 6:59PM - The Fern selection was vast and spanned many genera and different families.

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- Tropical flowering trees had representation, including a 3 gal. Brownea grandiceps complete with a bloom. This was one of Jeff's donations. The bloom was taken from one of his full size trees and attached to the plant. 

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- A Chamaedorea adscendens was added to the selection for the palm people in the audience.

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- A large leaf Ficus, Ficus benghalensis, stood out at the corner of the first table that started the line of tables that ran along the far wall.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 7:01PM - The plants kept coming. The selection of plants for the auction was growing by the minute, no pun intended. Space along the wall for tables had run out, and additional ones were set up in the middle of the room. Society members Lenny Goldstein and Steve Nock bring a folding table to near the entry door.

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- Ahh, the food. As soon as the first person grabbed a plate, the food spread became swarmed with attendees. The kitchen area had even more entrees, appetizers, hors-d'oeuvres and desserts in reserve, in case they were needed. Veteran landscaper and collector Larry Dieterich dives into the deviled eggs.

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- Travis and Jeff were not far behind with their first courses of the evening.

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- Beverages were made ready at the end of the food spread. Steve scoops out some ice for Larry's drink.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 7:03PM - On the left, Forum member George Sparkman (George Sparkman) works his way down the line as FMs. Lenny Goldstein (Leonard Goldstein) and Ellis Brown (EllisB) do the same on the other side. I tried as much of the food as I could, and it was all good.

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- Crotons became a focal point throughout the evening. They were donated en masse, from the common to the rare, from the well-known to the unknown. Croton enthusiast Jose Lopez wheels in one of his croton donations, a large unknown cultivar. It was the largest plant of the auction. The croton people in the room examined it thoroughly, and to my knowledge, were unable to come up with a name.

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- One of the stunning, very thick, leathery leaves belonging to a Philodendron x 'McDowellii', biding its time before going home with a new owner.

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- Crotons numbered high and were among the later arrivals. They occupied several tables.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 7:08PM - Under the heading "strange and unusual" comes Sauropus spatulifolius a member of the family Phyllanthaceae. It was donated by Silver Krome Nursery and has an interesting pattern in the leaves. It stands on its own as a unique plant and doesn't fit into any horticultural grouping that I know of. The family includes several commonly grown ornamental plants and a few fruit trees.

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- A rare and endangered orchid, Cirrhopetalum putidum was a species orchid that caught my eye among others. It was hidden in among larger plants on one table and I almost missed it. It is a small plant and I had to rearrange things on the table just for the photo. For scale, that is a 4 inch (10cm) basket. 

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- A dessert worthy of recognition. Marie Nock's own Chocolate Heathbar Trifle.

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- I can't say enough of how good it is. If there were less people around, I would have dug into it with my bare hands and ate it all.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 7:21PM - It was almost time for the auction to start, which was scheduled for 7:30. Attendees continue to peruse the selection and eat.

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- Like with any other plant society meeting and auction, there are attendees that prefer to sit while others like to stand and be more mobile. Seats began to fill as people sensed the auction was about to start.

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- 7:33PM - The first auctioneer of the evening, Lenny Goldstein, gets everyone's attention and starts the evenings main event.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 7:34PM - Lenny began by introducing himself and welcoming everyone. He went over the ground rules for the auction, including raising your paddle when you want to bid and bidding increments. Lenny and Jeff would switch back and forth as auctioneers during the auction, more so when one or the other knew more about a particular plant up for bid.

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- I made my way up onto the stage to get a different perspective. I used the view to get another look at the plants on the front tables.

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- The auctioneers had support staff ready to hand them plants to be auctioned off, and then to carry them to the holding area. The group were going over the details of the procedure.

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- The first plant of the evening was... a croton. With the abundance of Crotons to be auctioned off, it was decided that every other plant in the procession would be a Croton.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 7:40PM - A few plants in, the auction was underway.

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- With the huge amount of material to go through, they kept the pace brisk.

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- When a specific plant of a more unusual nature came up for bid, they would often hand the mic to Craig Morrell of Pinecrest Gardens for a more detailed description.

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- Bid paddles fly up for an exotic aroid.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 7:47PM - Lenny goes into high gear, describing plants and getting bids.

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- A palm he knows very well, Lenny describes a large 1 gal. specimen of Areca vestiaria var. 'Maroon Leaf' to the audience...

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- The promise of a maroon red crownshaft and a maroon new leaf woke up the bidders.

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- The supply chain of getting plants to the auctioneers was non-stop.

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Ryan

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- 8:01PM - Staghorn Ferns of all shapes, sizes and rarities were part of the auction. Up next for bid was a Platycerium veitchii var. 'Long Form'. It drew some ooh's from the crowd and saw some serious bidding.

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- To help go through the massive selection in a timely manner, identical plants of the same size were often auctioned off as a group...

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- Two 1 gal. Calathea bella were auctioned off together. As a species Calathea, they were a popular duo; selling for $38.00. It is worth noting that this species, along with many others within Calathea were recently removed from the genus and placed into an old genus, Goeppertia.

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- For Croton enthusiasts in Miami-Dade county, this was the meeting to attend.

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Ryan

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- 8:11PM - Next up was a big one. Travis carefully moves the Pentagonia wendlandii from its spot on a side table...

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- ... and hands it off to Michael, who holds it at the ready. The crowd started to murmur as Lenny finished the auction of the last plant.

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- This moment of the auction called for some added description from practiced hands. Grower and donator of the Pentagonia wendlandii herself, Marie Nock, borrowed the microphone from Lenny and went on the describe the rare plant, with special attention on how to grow it. Her presentation ended with a rise in inflection from the crowd. Bidding went back and forth between several people for a short while, ending up a duel between two attendees, with the winner getting the plant for just $66.00, an incredible deal for such an exotic item.

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- The audience was still getting over the last auction when they were presented with a Black Bat Plant, Tacca chantrieri.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 8:15PM - The array of Ferns available was incredible. Listening to the society members describe them was inspiring as it reminded me of the old days of the original Fern Society, now just a memory.

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- The bidders lining the back of the room made their presence known when there was a plant they wanted.

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- Many of the Crotons donated were rarer than usual, and it was the first time many of the attendees had seen certain cultivars. This fact seemed to drive up the bidding.

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- The red leaf sporting Chambeyronia macrocarpa was next and it was a favorite among the Palm people in the audience.

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Ryan

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- 8:27PM - "We have some instant gratification here." Certain plants required more room than others for the ride home.

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- Even with a tag, identification can be challenging when you can't read the handwriting. Please print.

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- Jeff took a moment to describe the next Croton, known as Dreer #7, to the audience. He explained how he re-discovered the old cultivar growing in a yard and was able to establish it back into cultivation. The added background history added to the bidding.

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- With careful persuasion, Jeff gets in close to coax a higher bid out of an attendee.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 8:41PM - The small species orchid Cirrhopetalum putidum was up next. The bidding quickly way out of my range, but it went to a good home and for a good cause.

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- I was getting dizzy with all the different Croton cultivars. The names became a blur after a while.

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- From a showy Croton to a spectacularly rare Croton. This was one of a few 'Milky Way' specimens donated to the auction. It is a smaller, slower-growing cultivar known for its speckled, night sky imitating, star-like pattern to the leaves.

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- A rarer than usual Bird's Nest Fern.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 8:50PM - Even with the gradual increase in higher bidding increments, a single auction might be slower than another. Jeff was keeping it going, or "going once, going twice." as accurately and as swiftly as possible.

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- Being up on the stage gives you a different perspective. Paper plates fly up around the room as a pair of Crotons were auctioned off.

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- As the evening continued, more attendees arrived as certain others left. Attendees could pay for their plants collectively at any point and leave if they wished, no need to stay to the end, unless you wanted to. The Society had their holding and payment system running at full effect along the left side of the room.

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- After a while, you could see a trend developing among the bidders. Certain plant groups would draw specific numbered paddles.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 8:58PM - At an hour and a half into the auction, the tables began to show signs of thinning out. There were still plenty of rare plants still to go through. Jeff describes a heavily variegated Alocasia to the crowd.

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- Next up was a more unusual Platycerium sp. with a unique growing habit. Jeff asked the audience if anyone had more information...

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- ... soon after, Fairchild's own Arielle Simon stood up and proceeded to describe the exotic fern. Unlike other staghorn ferns that form a centered mass of fronds or pups, this species will actually spread around the trunk of its host tree, forming a crown-like shape.

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- Some plants arrived sans soil and some even without a container. The cool thing about a lot of Ferns, is that they do not need much to grow.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 9:05PM - The variety of Palms for the auction were few and far between and their appearances were spaced out throughout the evening. The species that were a part of the auction were all popular with attendees, bringing in decent winning bids. Jeff describes the diminutive nature of the Chamaedorea adscendens seen earlier, to the crowd.

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- The big Croton was next. The Croton people in the room added their identification ideas to the mix, as FM. Ron Kiefert (Moose) came over to offer his. A few names were thrown about, but in the end the plant was auctioned off as pure, instant gratification with a lot of color.

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- The jovial atmosphere of the event was at a high level and it did not take much to get a laugh from the crowd.

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- Jeff would try to get a rise out between two bidders to get them to compete, sometimes with a humorous result. In the distance along the far wall, you can see the plant holding area packed to capacity, as society volunteers keep stashes separate.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 9:27PM - As the tables thinned out, plants were moved up towards the stage. Most of the plants in this photo still waiting to be auctioned off were Crotons.

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- The larger Anthurium regale was auctioned off to an eager crowd, as many seemed to be Aroid fans.

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- A popular Croton among enthusiasts, 'Fishbone' was auctioned off very quickly to wake up the crowd.

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- It seemed a good portion of the attendance were waiting for the Angiopteris angustifolia to come up for auction. The giant tree fern saw some huge bids.

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Ryan

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Palmarum

- 9:40PM - Craig's expertise came in handy throughout the auction. He would often get interrupted while eating, chatting or even bidding to describe a plant.

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- 9:57PM - It was almost 10:00 o'clock and it was departure time for those of us with a long drive home. A ton of material was auctioned off in the first two and a half hours of the auction. I am not sure how long the auction went on for after we left, but there were still rare and unusual items left on the tables, even with their now thinned-out state. The crew could not hold off any longer and brought up the mysterious plastic bag of wet sand for bid. Someone announced loudly that it was "a bag of Peyote" which got everyone's attention and caused many to laugh. It turned out to be a collection of small bulbs, kept moist by the sand.

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We left soon after and began the drive home. From my own experiences with numerous Society auctions, I would have to say this was a fantastic event for myself and for those in attendance. Like with previous TFEPS auctions and meetings, it was well organized and the entire Society made sure every detail was planned and executed with care; by plant enthusiasts for plant enthusiasts. The plant selection went far past my expectations. There were many plants I had never seen before and that is what makes it a unique experience for me. It is good to see the Society flourishing with new members and first time meeting attendees. The auction was fun to attend as always and I hope to see what the Society has planned for the future.

For more information on the Tropical Fern & Exotic Plant Society regarding meeting dates, event schedules, sales and other activities, follow the link below to their website:

Link: http://www.tfeps.org/

 

Ryan

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