The Croton Society Spring Meeting - May 14th, 2011 - Mike Harris Residence

... Jim Glock: Air Layering Demonstration...

- 1:39PM: The demonstration began to come to a close, as Jim fielded some more questions, mostly about watering and fertilizing.

Greg K: "Did you ever have to get any water in there {inside the foil} after you do it or just leave it?"


- 1:40PM: Jim answered Greg's question with how he applies liquid fertilizer.

Jim: "I will fertilize the heads with a liquid fertilizer. If everything goes good, you'll have roots as big as your fist and you'll have no problems in potting them up and getting them in the ground does not take long."


- 1:41PM: Jeff Searle came in to add a tidbit of information to the demo in regards to harvesting air layers. He told the crowd how last summer he and Rob were placing air-layers on plants in Rob's yard. Rob had missed a few air layers when it came to harvest, but the following summer he was able to collect them with no problems. The point was that you can still harvest later than you planned on.


- A question was asked by the crowd if it would make any difference if a light solution of liquid fertilizer was applied to the Sphagnum moss inside the air layer. Jim's response was that since there are so few roots in the moss, there is no way for the plant to absorb the solution. He continued with why he uses liquid fertilizer on the head of leaves, since as time goes by, the fertilizer will work its way down to the air layer site and help to make new roots.


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... Jim Glock: Air Layering Demonstration

- 1:43PM: Jim asked if there was any more questions and did not get a response for the first time since he started the demonstration. There was silent acknowledgment in regards to the end of the demonstration and the beginning of the next meeting chapter was around the next minute. Jim then passed the baton onto Ron...

Jim: "I guess we'll move forward... What is it Phil? Forward through the fog?"

Phil Stager: "Onward through the fog."

Jim: "Onward through the fog, I like that... Moose... your on. What's next?"

Ron took a quick poll of the attendees and asked if they wanted to do a quick tour or get into the auction. It was unanimous among the anxious crowd as they wanted the auction to begin.


Jeff Searle: Auction - Introductions...

- Jim's time in the spotlight was over for the moment and Jeff took over as auctioneer. There were many plants up for auction so many knew it was going to be a long, yet fun afternoon. Before the first plant saw the first bid Jeff had a plan to go around and have everyone give their names and introduce themselves. This has been done at a Croton Society meeting before namely the one at Jeff's residence almost three years ago...

Jeff: "Hello, my name's Jeff, and we're going to do something really quick today. I'm going to ask you to stand up, real quick, give us your name and where you live... Try an' introduce yourselves. There's some new faces here. Let's start over here..."

Jeff walked towards Randy on the left, when someone shouted in Jeff's direction, jokingly...

Crowd: "...And who are you?" [laughs]​

I could not remember who it was that said that, but it was funny.


- 1:44PM: Then just like clockwork in a clockwise fashion, each attendee either stood or sat and then gave their name and location. What some would expect to be ordinary answers took on a humorous twist as the procession went down the line. After Randy's introduction, next was Jerry Behan, who identified himself as Geraldo, followed by Ricky and Host Mike...


- Alise Ryan spoke next, followed by John, who introduced himself as Alise's husband. The introductions came faster as some were drowned out by laughter, as certain attendees kept finding humorous ways of telling people who they were and where there were from.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction - Introductions...

- 1:44PM: ... Carol Graff spoke next followed by a quick "Connie: Tampa"...


- ... Friend of Mark Peters, Alex told the attendance of his name and location...


- The procession quickly went down the line and met up with Judy Glock, who told the mass of Ft. Myers...


- 1:45PM: It took a turn along the back 'row' and quickly ended with Keith.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction - Introductions...

- 1:45PM: The introductions went smoothly and they were followed by Andrea Searle talking to Jeff. She was mentioning the possibility of new attendees that have never been to a Croton Society meeting before and how they should be welcomed. This was done to edge Jeff on I believe...

Andrea: "I think there's a couple new people here that have never been to any of the Croton Society meetings. So, we should probably welcome them, and thank them for coming and..."

Jeff was close to rolling his eyes and cut in with...

Jeff: "Like give them a big hug?"

Crowd: [laughter]​

The laughter was subsiding as Connie stood up and announced...

Connie: "I would like to say many thanks to Mike for hosting us."

Crowd: [applause] The motion of thanking Mike for his gracious nature of giving everyone time in his yard and allowing the Society for holding their meeting here, was captured in this photo.


- Connie continued with more of her introduction with society information and an invitation to join...

Connie: "Hi, I'm Connie, I am Treasurer of the Croton Society so welcome everybody. If anybody wants to become a member that's not a member I got apps." {applications}​

Jeff added with: "Yes, please become a member if you can. Great newsletter. We have these garden tours, three, four times a year. They are a lot of fun. Great group of people. Beautiful calendar at the beginning of the year, which is well worth it, so please consider."


Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 1:47PM: Jeff started the auction by describing the basic rules and told everyone to try to keep the auction going smoothly as there was quite a few plants to go through. He went on to tell how things were going to go, while Carol and Connie got ready to write down names and keep track of winning bids. The red table was primed with plants as Ron kept it stocked as they were auctioned off to the hungry masses.


- The first croton selected by Jeff had a noticeable Home depot sticker on the pot and the donators, the Sisters, told him to remove the sticker out of embarrassment.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 1:47PM: He slowly peeled off the sticker and handed it to them, as he stated it was theirs to begin with...


- Jeff announced the first croton as 'John Bender' #200 and described the colorful yellow and green coloration with the red petioles.


- 1:48PM: After a small flurry of bidding, the plant was won with a bid of $8.00 and it was going home with John. The first auction only took a few seconds and the crowd was slowly warming up to the idea of bidding loudly, highly and often.


- Next up was a 'Bravo', a common but popular cultivar. #202 Jeff made sure everyone could hear him.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 1:48PM: The bidding was low since the diehard collectors were certain to have 'Bravo' in their collections. Jeff was doing a good job of teasing people with the plants by walking them around and showing them up close and personal. Mike throws his hand up with a bid while John double checks his wallet.


- 1:49PM: Described as a great one for the shade, a colorful 'Buddy' makes the scene. Didi was quick to start the bidding... #206


- It quickly became a duel between Didi on one side and Jim Glock on the other, with Jeff pointing at him. It went back and forth a dollar at a time. Didi was determined to get it. Jeff summarized the duel with...

Jeff: "Someone wants a 'Buddy' bad."


- Going once, going twice, sold. Jeff said as he handed the 'Buddy' over to the victorious Didi.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 1:49PM: A small 'Plaid Oak' was next on deck and its small size did not limit the bidding. #210


- 1:50PM: Didi quickly bid on it in increments of $5.00 and the action took others by surprise. The strategy worked, as she won this croton for a good price.


- The next croton was a bit of an eye magnet during the day and when Jeff grabbed it, a few "ooh's" came from the crowd. Jeff admired it as well and asked who was responsible for its appearance in the auction, Jim then raised his hand submitting one of the first bids.


- It was the uniquely red 'Angelwing' specimen that was fondled over throughout the morning. Due to the increased attention it was getting, Jeff started the bidding off at $10.00... #217


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 1:50PM: Jim was throwing in the towel and 'bowed out', after the bidding was getting too hectic on the plant.


- 1:51PM: The higher starting reserve did not startle anyone. The bidding shot up fast and went back and forth in all corners of the crowd. It was in the twenties then the thirties. Jeff allowed the Ryan's to get close and touch it.


- It was a good fight and in the end Carol Graff got the winning bid at an impressive $35.00.


- Our next croton up for bid was this very nice 'Gonzalez' with its small leaves and pastel colors. There was immediate interest between Randy and Mike, and with Rob on the other side. Mike is seen here making a $22.00 bid...


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 1:52PM: The bid made above did not last long as it was outdone by Rob as he won the 'Gonzalez' with $25.00.


- A rather heavily potted 'Wilma' found itself on the ground as Jeff described it to the crowd. #223


- It was noted as being confused with 'Colonel Bob Bullock', but that debate was cleared up recently. Phil Stager raises a finger taking an early lead in the bidding.


- Carol was interested in it and asked for a closer look, so Jeff obliged and offered to let her touch it. She was sold on the fact the older leaves turn to shades of pink.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 1:52PM: A few well timed bids at the end got it for Carol and thus extended her croton addiction with a 'Wilma' for a mere $16.00.


- 1:53PM: A change in the flow happened during this point in the auction as a freshly harvested air layer came up for bid. Jeff peels back the foil to show the new roots at the air layer site of a 'C. I. Craigin'. The crowd were now air layer experts thanks in part to the demo so everyone knew what to do with it. It was easily a 3-gallon sized plant and it went fast for six bucks. #224


- 1:54PM: There were multiples of certain cultivars and when it happened that both were noticed while pulling plants, they were often put together in a double auction. This was mostly done to save time. The plants were auctioned off together and the highest bidder in the end got their 'pick of the litter'.


- This cultivar, 'William Craig' is a very old and well known one and has been popular for a long time. Both plants were grown by Jim & Judy Glock, with the larger plant being grown in the Keys. #226


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 1:54PM: The bidding was fast and it seemed that everyone was shooting for the larger plant, with the smaller one being a prize for the runner-up.


- Bids were coming from all over and especially from Mike as he was walking back to his seat after getting a drink.


- 1:55PM: Jeff was getting so good at this auction business, he was able to do it with his eyes closed. The bidding was into the twenties and thirties in no time. A new arrival had parked their car in the background to unload plants for the auction.


- It came down to a fight between seated neighbors Mike Harris, meeting host, and Alise & John Ryan...

Mike: "thirty-two..." Alise: "thirty-five..." Mike: "thirty-seven..." Jeff asked nicely for Alise and John to give him a $40 dollar bid and they both said "forty" at the same time, making Jeff and everyone else laugh.​

Jeff: "Forty dollars going once, twice, sold." Jeff then asked coquettishly to Alise and John... "Well, which one do you want?"

The nearby attendees that heard Jeff's comment laughed as he brought over the larger of the two 'William Craig' plants. Donator of the two plants Judy Glock, proud of her croton growing skills, had Jeff read off the air-layer harvest date on the tag. The date was March 20th from an air-layer, meaning the larger plant had rooted out in a 3 gallon pot in less than two months. "Wow..." the crowd bellowed. Mike had the next highest bid and got the smaller plant.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 1:56PM: The auction was open to any plant donations, since more plants means more funds for the Croton Society. A grouping of bromeliads were donated and Jeff held up the first of many Neo. 'Fireball' plants. It is one of the best landscape bromeliads around and it sold for $2.00.


- The small bromeliads were sold for a flat $2.00 and anyone could go up and grab them during the auction. Ron walked up and handed Jeff an 'Excellent' croton. No pun intended. #232


- The bidding for the 'Excellent' croton was started at two dollars, where it did not stay for long. It went to Bud for $15.00. It was interesting to listen to the background chatter as those who were not bidding, were commenting on their specimens of the cultivar up for bid. This happened often.


- 1:57PM: It was expected during the auction for unusual items to show up including different color variations of well known cultivars. The plant in Jeff's hands is is the White Form of 'Ann Rutherford', a form not often seen even in Croton circles. #234 Phil Stager gave a short description on its history then the bidding opened at eight and went to twenty.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 1:58PM: The flow was going great as plants were quickly filling the spaces between the chairs and in the areas behind them. The area under the Ficus holding the auction plants was showing serious foot traffic. Next out in front of the red table was a 'Joannis'. A very fast growing cultivar that was already a big plant in a 3 gallon pot, partially obscured by the plants on the table. #236


- 1:59PM: A bid of $3.00 started the auction off and it became the target of acquisition between Forum members Ron Kiefert (Moose Knuckle) and Rick Leitner (TikiRick). These two are patriots of the Croton world and are not new to the art of flinging bids...

Ron: "Five...Five..." Rick: "Six..."

Ron: "You have no room in your yard for that! ...Seven!"

Rick: "Ten..."

Ron: "You bastard..." Everyone erupted in laughter at the exchange between Ron and Rick.​


- Jeff shouted "Sold!" and Rick got the prize. He was looking over his new addition as Carol Graff was describing the specimen she has in her yard, over towards the left...

Carol: "I got one of those seventeen feet tall."​

Rick: "Bragger!"​

The crowd had plenty to laugh at, as the humor was non-stop.


- The next item up for bid was a grouping of three, small rooted cuttings of the very rare cultivar 'Black Beauty'. #239 It is a small croton with a very tightly twisting, thin, dark purple-black leaf. It has been in cultivation for only two years, as Ron Kiefert discovered it recently growing near a house not far from his place.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:00PM: Jeff took the 'Black Beauty' plants around for a short walk and explained how rare they have become. As he walked about he asked Ron to tell more of the story about the original plant, present and past...

Jeff: "...It's a thin leaf corkscrew... It was an unknown croton up until what, Ron? About two years ago was pretty much not around..."​

Ron: "Actually, the guy {owner of original plant} died, he got hit with a car and I tried to buy the house and they overbid me. I got some air layers on it, but that... we'll losing that one. Cause they're gonna tent the house and it's gonna be gone."

Crowd: "What's the name of it?"

Ron and Jeff: "Black Beauty."

Crowd: [whispering] "We need to get that croton..."

Jeff: "So, a couple of years ago this croton really wasn't around and it was--"

Ron: "He told me his father planted it... in 1961."

Jeff: "Thanks to Ron, we've gotten this out a little bit."


- As the bidding started, there was a bit of confusion as to how it was going to work with three plants. Usually, the highest bidder sets the price and takes their pick. The confusion made it hilarious as people could not keep up with who was bidding on what. Attendees that were bidding could have gotten a plant real cheap, but they kept bidding against each other, driving a shared price even higher.


- 2:01PM: Eventually, it was sorted out and three happy collectors got a new 'Black Beauty'.


- The next one grabbed off the table was a small croton named 'Green Dragon'. It is a green Thai Hybrid croton with smaller, curved ovate leaves. Before I had a chance to get a closer photo of it, it was sold for $15.00 and stashed away. It can happen that fast. #243

The skies were still relatively clear and the weather had cooperated all day long. The wind started to pick up at this point in the auction, creating a few small gusts through the yard and was the only indication that the weather might change.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:02PM: The auction continued on schedule and the attendees showed no signs of slowing down on bidding. I became more selective of which plants I photographed as there were so many and it was getting hard to keep track of them all. I took a break for a short while and rested near the golf cart (close to the beverages). This turned out to be not so good, as I was handing out drinks to everyone who asked. Before I walked on over, I got a close up of this 'Tamara' as it was waiting its turn on the table.


- 2:03PM: It's turn came and Jeff spared no adjectives in describing the unusual mottling found on the leaves.


- 2:04PM: He was working over Connie, trying to get an extra dollar out of her to up the bid. She gave in.


- 2:05PM: As I was leaning on the back of the golf cart, I watched the auction of this well grown 'Fishbone' croton take place. It went to Carol Graff for a good amount and as I taking the photo, I believe that is her hand reaching out towards it. #246


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:06PM: The audience was primed for the next plant as everyone was truly enjoying themselves. Jeff was looking over the red table and chose the next lucky plant...


- 2:07PM: He selected a 'Tiger Eye' a rather rare cultivar with a very slow growth rate. It has an exceptional leaf with great color. Jeff primed the bidding with his description. The fight over this croton narrowed down between Judy Glock and Randy Wiesner (off on the right, catching Jeff's glare). Jeff mentioned in this shot how well this croton would grow in the Keys to edge on the Glocks.


- Jeff walked the plant over to Randy, so he could hold it and take a closer look at it. The bidding jumped up into the twenties and shot back and forth until Judy got it for $25.00.


- 2:08PM: A brightly colored 'Piecrust' was next and it was started with a mere $3.00 bid. #253


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:08PM: The bidding on the 'Piecrust' took a strange turn, when during one moment it was Judy Glock vs. Jim Glock. I was laughing too much and forgot who ended up with it.


- 2:09PM: Andrea Searle made Jeff turn a few shades redder with her comment as he introduced this next croton...

Jeff: "Golden Glow..."

Andrea: "That would be the look on my face when I look at you, honey."

Crowd: "Awww... Ohhh..."

Jeff went through the auction of the 'Golden Glow' in about 6 seconds. #255


- Attendees were still reliving Andrea's comment as Jeff quickly grabbed another croton from the table. He picked a showy 'Baron Le Compte' and began working the crowd. #257 The next items in line for the auction can be seen as they began filling up the red table.


- 2:10PM: It is a wonderful croton for the shade and he started on the left side of the crowd while Mike looks over his master list to see if he has it already.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:10PM: Three Forum members anchored this side of the crowd with persistent bids and great commentary. FMs. Randy Wiesner (palmisland), Jerry Behan (Jerry@TreeZoo) and Ricky Ginsberg (fawnridge) enjoy their beverages as the fifth hour mark of the meeting came and went. The time was flying past as everyone seemed to be having a great time.


- 2:11PM: Phil Stager donated this spectacular 'Maryland' specimen and it saw a huge surge in bids starting right at the beginning. The first bid was $25.00 and was soon trumped by $35.00, with Jeff himself bidding on it a few times. #259


- 2:12PM: The bidding went back and forth, with Jeff's own bids annoying the crowd as he always put in his own bid at the last second. It was between Mike and his crew and a few other contestants until they won it for an impressive $46.00.


- 'Arrowhead'... "Arrowww-head" as Jeff shouted the name to get everyone's attention. It began at a modest three dollar bid and met almost silence. It got the most comments in regards to the large amount of cuttings a grower could get from this one bushy plant. The bidding went slow and quiet in dollar increments until I heard Marie Nock on my right yell out... #262

Marie: "Ok, eight and that's my limit." [chuckle]​

Crowd: "Ten." Jeff: "Ten bucks in the back. Ten bucks going once..."

We thought that was going to be it and then we heard...


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:12PM: Marie: "Eleven!" Immediately after she made the "eight is my limit" comment FM. Marie Nock (Marie Nock) came back with a higher bid, letting loose a contagious laugh that ran through the entire crowd and which cracked herself up as well. She let out some great laughter even though she was only part way through that first beer.


- 2:13PM: With all that comedy, no one was going to bid again so Marie got herself a new 'Arrowhead' for eleven dollars.


- Another non-croton came up for bid and it was a well grown Cordyline cv. 'Maria'. #265


- 2:14PM: Jeff went through the bidding lightning fast and before Phil could put his hand down from placing the bid, the plant was already delivered to his feet.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:15PM: One of the newer crotons to make its way onto the market, 'Mango' is a colorful, small plant with lots of orange. #267


- It sounded as if almost every attendee placed at least one bid on this croton.


- The bids were coming in from all over, turning Jeff around like a spinning top. On the right, Chris Mayhew was going to place a bid, but then changed his mind; making people laugh including himself. A final bid of $20.00 won it for a happy attendee.


- 2:17PM: This bright croton was a submission by Rick Leitner. When Jeff asked him what the name was, Rick's answer was "Have No Idea". #271


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:18PM: The enlightened congregation dug into the mystery plant and came up with different names and suggestions. Some threw out names like "Sunny Star" and "Super Star" and even compared it to the common 'Gold Dust' cultivar. No one was positive on any identity so the bidding started at five bucks, garnered one bid to six, which then took it home. This croton could show up again in a garden tour with a new name and then be a new cultivar.


- The amazing 'Magnificent' croton... Jeff introduced this special cultivar with regal attention, as if it was a member of croton royalty. #273


- 2:19PM: Jeff asked if anyone was not familiar with the history of this croton, with particular interest regarding the past Croton Society meeting at Jeff's residence three years ago. During the meeting at his house in November of 2008, there was a large specimen of 'Magnificent' (Jeff is seen here describing the size with his hands) that sold at auction for $380.00. A legendary moment of lore in the croton world. Fast forward to today, this cultivar is much more common and now well distributed. The bidding on this plant started at $3.00 and sold for a mere $16.00. An example of how a very rare cultivar can become common in a relatively short span of time, but fate can also allow the reverse to happen; as you never know with crotons.


- 2:20PM: The auction crept forward with many more and amazing plants coming up for bid. There was no sign of boredom or apathy as every attendee was glued to their seats waiting to see what would come next. Only the driven power of thirst made people move from their spots and even then, the trip to the cooler was quick. Jeff grabbed another plant at random from the table and freely spoke the name 'Yuletide' to the crowd. It was not the most interesting or colorful of cultivars, but it is fairly rare. #274 It went for a quick three dollar bid.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:21PM: The famous 'Captain Gilbert Cutler', a favorite croton of many in attendance, was chosen next to have its time in the spotlight. There are few cultivars that can draw the many "ooh's and ahh's" that this one can. This point in the auction was no exception. Jeff had a smug look on his face as he was doing a 'strut' while walking around the auction area, showing off the plant and teasing his audience. #276


- Jeff repeated the name over and over and the crowd did their best to hush themselves as they eye-fondled the plant in his hand. Attendees were talking out loud selling the cultivar to anyone who would listen commenting on its great leaves, wonderful color and its superb growing ability. Jeff echoed the attention the plant was getting by beginning with a $15.00 reserve.


- The bidding climbed high in five dollar increments and reached $40.00 quickly when someone in the crowd noticed there was a second specimen of 'Captain Gilbert Cutler' in behind the table. Jeff moved this other, taller plant out and placed it on the ground next to the first one. The second plant was heralded into the front area by a round of "ooh's" and focused awe streaming from the crowd.


- 2:22PM: After the "whoa's" were replaced by the frequent bidding of a double auction, I took a portrait of both plants as they awaited their new owners.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:23PM: The bidding reached an auction record of $60.00 and before it went even higher, a compromise was reached between the two highest bidders. One bidder chose the smaller plant, yielding the larger one for the other bidder, essentially ending the fight between the two diehards.


- I was a half second early on taking this photo. Jeff had received the next croton for auction and before he could start the bidding, Andrea came over to bid him farewell. She was leaving to get the Searle Residence prepared for the Post Tour that was roughly scheduled to start at around 4:30 later this afternoon.


- 2:24PM: A rather tall and upright 'Freckles' was ready for bidding. #285


- This croton was another Rick Leitner donation and its thin and unusual appearance was due to its very recent transplanting from ground to pot. The level of chatter was getting higher and Jeff fought to keep everyone's attention.

Jeff: "Wake up left side!"


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:25PM: FM. Chris Mayhew (pocomo) got himself some 'Freckles' for $25.00.


- 2:26PM: The next plant in the auction, an 'Appendiculatum' created a small bit of confusion due to its closeness to another cultivar and the fact Jeff was having trouble saying the name. After the name was straightened out Jeff opened it up to any bid, eventually selling it for five dollars. People who were bidding on it were quiet and Jeff was laughing as he was telling them to speak up. In behind him on the right, Ron had a surprise ready to go...

As soon as the 'Appendiculatum' was delivered, Ron walked forward with a plant in hand and shouted...

Ron: "Bill donated this 'General McArthur', first hand gets it for free!"

Ron had a croton to give away and Alex raised his hand first and got it.


- "What?" This was the main reaction to when the name 'Chicken Foot' was announced as the next plant in the auction. This small one gallon plant was also called 'Turkey Foot' by those watching. The bidding went fast for a dollar, as Jeff wanted to get through it fast to avoid the naming conflict.


- 2:27PM: The bright yellow color and the oak-leaf shaped leaves were the trademarks of this 'W. C. Wallace', the next croton to capture the audience's attention. #288


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:27PM: The bidding got up into the twenties in a hurry and I took an extra second to take a closer photo of this specimen. The leaves seemed to be variable as they got older. I heard one attendee say what the "W. C." stood for, but I could not remember.


- Randy led a good fight and in the end grabbed the 'W. C. Wallace' with a $23.00 bid.


- 2:28PM: Time for another change of pace. Ron moved over and dumped a heavy bucket full of cuttings at Jeff's feet.

Greg K: "Watch out, there is some stank water in that bucket."

They were donated by Rick Leitner, who spoke over on the left to say "Just give them away, Jeff." There were about 20 cuttings in the bucket and they had been sitting in water for a long time, making some foul smells. "Beware of the stank water", became the phrase of the day.


- Jeff lifted one of them out to announce they were 'Red Excurrens' cuttings and got a good whiff of the stank...

Jeff: "Eww that IS stinky water, bro."

It was decided upon quickly to give the cuttings away, hopefully as fast as possible. The bucket of stank was moved over and put far out of the way. Attendees were told to just go up and grab them as they wanted.

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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:29PM: Rick remained the focus of conversation as the next plant up for bid was one of his that needed to be identified.


- Rick went on to describe the source of the donated plant in Jeff's hand as people commented and added their opinions. It had the temporary name of 'Easter'. The plant took a tour around and was inspected by the experts. The plant remained an unknown and was auctioned off as is.


- 2:30PM: An impressive looking 'President Reagan' was next up after the mystery plant. It had a lot of color and Jeff sped through the auction very quickly. Maybe too quickly, as no one could remember what it went for. #298


- 2:31PM: A few more crotons were auctioned off at a steady pace, one right after another, including a stretched-out 'Diane' seen earlier in the topic. The small plant seen here walking away in Jeff's hand is a 'Stoplight' and it started at a buck.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:31PM: It received one bid...


- ...and then the 'Stoplight' was sold. In a blink of an eye, a 'Nestor' was put up for bidding and then it was sold before most even noticed.


- 2:32PM: The next croton to receive some considerable fanfare was this 'Daisy Ortegas'. #302


- 2:33PM: The bidding went back and forth and it seemed that different people were waiting for this croton to work its way into the auction. The auction in general was not without some serious peer pressure. It seemed that during critical points in bidding attendees were not shy from edging others on to go in for an extra dollar or two, as Reggie here found out. I think this happened when a croton nut saw another member bidding on a plant that the nut wanted to make sure they got. Sort of like, bidding vicariously through the other member.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:33PM: A Jeff Searle original made its way into the lineup next. This is 'Yellow Croc' and is a unique yellow and green croton endemic to Jeff's yard. He did not name it until he showed it to and mentioned it to, every person he knew in the Croton world and had asked if they knew what it was. The leaves resemble the cracked, rigid texture found on crocodile skin, tinted yellow. Phil got it with a $22.00 bid.

- 2:35PM: "Who needs a nice BIG leaved croton?" Jeff exclaimed as he described 'Jungle Queen' to everyone. It almost went for a mere three dollars until everyone caught on to what was being auctioned. It sold for $25.00 after a heated fight.


- Another 'Wilma' made the scene, apparently hidden from view earlier in the auction. #306 It sold for a respectable twenty dollars to a crowd that was quickly becoming saturated with crotons.


- 2:36PM: Rick Leitner told Jeff to announce to everyone there was a stack of pots over to one side that were free for the taking. The next cultivar to grace the Ficus stage was 'Compte de Germiny', an old croton cultivar with a wide range of color. Jeff took his time to show it off to the Sisters and have them ogle it for a while. Music continued to emanate down from the house speakers and was at the right volume to add ambiance to the auction.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:37PM: Soon after the 'free pots' announcement was made they vanished... via the hands of Ricky. As he carried them off, he was getting flak from attendees who were teasing him for taking the entire stack. At least we knew they were going to a place where they would be well used.


- The supply of plant material for the auction had been worked through quite efficiently. The majority had been sold off by this point with a good portion of the rooted cuttings left to go. Jeff and Ron took this opportunity to explain to everyone the calcium buildup on some of the rooted cuttings was caused by a mist house; and how it posed no problem for the plants. It would eventually go away as the plants grew new leaves.


- 2:39PM: Phil Stager got one of the more unusual rooted cuttings for $20.00.


- A 'Multicolor' was up next and it had a good description provided by Jeff. It gets a lot more red in the leaves and grows very well in the sun. The leaves have a unique shape not found on any other croton and it grows fast while forming a bushy plant. It went fast and cheap. #312


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:40PM: This was one of only a handful of times a true -Unknown- had come up for auction. This plant was scrutinized over earlier in the day during the auction preview before and after lunch. It stumped everyone at the meeting that looked at it. This croton originated from a woman's garden in the Keys and had no name attached to it. The fact it was unknown to all in attendance made it stand out even more and caused the crowd to take notice. #316

- 2:41PM: The bidding started at ten dollars and shot off in a hurry with bids firing at Jeff from all over. It soon reached $40.00 and then the audience got quieter as the amount of bidders dropped off sharply. On the right, Didi was fighting hard for it and was going back and forth with Rob over on the left.


- Jeff was joking with Mike as Didi was using her honed bidding skills to help get plants for him and how persistent she was. The bidding slowed down to one dollar increments until Rob said "fifty-two" and took the prize. The high price drew applause from the crowd.


- 2:43PM: A trio of 'Ram's Horn' was auctioned off next followed by a pair of 'Pink Eburneum'.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:44PM: The 'Pink Eburneum' cultivar was well known for its mottled, almost camouflage pattern on the leaves and the pink or wine colored markings. Jeff had no problem finding bidders on these two plants, which were auctioned off one at a time.


- "...And one for you..." As Jeff was handing off the plant, it appeared he forgot Judy was sitting there as she had to dodge the moving pot.


- 2:45PM: As the auction was drawing to a close the bidding was showing signs of slowing down. Attendees had either used up their budget or reached their capacity for plants. A small 'Christian's Landscape', that had difficulties getting established, was lumped into another auction with an addtional croton. Soon afterwards a showy 'Charmer' was put up for bid.


- A colorful 1 gallon 'Baron Rothschild' was taken off the now emptying red table and struggled to get past its opening bid. Mark Peters raised two fingers forming the peace sign and placed a two dollar bid...


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:45PM: The offering of the peace sign worked, as Mark got the 'Baron Rothschild' and its peculiar reddish leaf color. The camera flash made him close his eyes or Jeff was making him sleepy...


- 2:46PM: The auction was wrapping up fast. Between the uniform plant sizes and the low reserve prices, the plants were going out in groups of two or more at a time. This photo shows Jeff and Ron looking over a pair of 'Dayspring' specimens. The majority of the remaining auction plants, shy a few miscellaneous items, were now all up on the red table.


- 2:47PM: Jeff was either in a giving mood or was getting tired. He was given a pair of 'Wooten's Beauty' to auction off and he decided to do them both together in a single auction, 2 for 1, much to the delight of FM. Mike (Bullwinkle). #325


- 2:48PM: A unique and hard-to-find cultivar, 'Robert Lavalois' in a 1 gallon, was taken off the table next. Before Jeff took bids, he asked everyone in attendance who had traveled the furthest to make it to the meeting. It was an easy answer. A few attendees singled out Connie before she could even respond and said she had covered the most distance; which included many hours of driving. Jeff gave it to Connie as a prize for traveling the furthest and the crowd was ecstatic. #32(6)


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... Jeff Searle: Auction...

- 2:50PM: A small and almost unrecognizable 'Fishbone' was brought up for the crowds consideration and it found a new owner in a few seconds. At the spur of the moment, Jeff spoke out the name 'Puccini' while referring to the next croton in his hand. This made a few select attendees grab their seats in shock, as apparently the cultivar 'Puccini' is extremely rare and heavily sought after. Jeff followed with the comment that bidding on a 'Puccini' would have started with a three digit number.


- 2:51PM: A 'Rembrandt' was being auctioned off in the background when I took a closer look at Jim Glock's box of air layering tools that he used earlier in the afternoon. I think I covered just about everything in there, except the beer, which is of course recommended while air layering; just watch out for the sharp blades while drunk. The auction continued with a 'Twist-n-Point', a few more 'Piecrust' and a 'Davis #1'.


- 2:55PM: The parade of plants continued with a 'Carmen Christian', 'Yellow Mrs. Iceton' and a 'Macadoo'. A newly rooted set of 'Majesticum' cuttings came up to bid. They appeared to be young tip cuttings, with smaller leaves, grouped together in a 1 gallon pot; otherwise they didn't appear to match the standard.


- 2:56PM: A 'Miami Beauty' with nice leaves came next selling for $6.00, followed by this 'Leopardia' that Jeff was holding high up in the air. His hand was moving so fast pointing at the bidders, it blurred in the shot. It went for a quick five dollar bid.


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... Jeff Searle: Auction

The rate in which the plants were going through Jeff's hands and going out to attendees was incredible. There was a surge of activity in the last minutes of the auction that made it tough to keep up with who was getting what. It was going too fast to keep track of the plants and to photograph them. The final lap of the auction took place between now (the beginning of the 3 o'clock hour) and the last fourteen minutes or so and went through a long list of interesting cultivars...

The majority included a few more 'Baron Le Compte', 'Revelation', 'Corkscrew', an olive colored set of 'Ovalifolium', and a set of four 'Lord Bellhaven' that for some reason could not be given away. The cultivar list of auction plants continued with a 'Charles Rutherford', 'William Jennings Bryan', 'Rheedii', 'Kentucky', 'Eburneum', 'Christmas', 'Reliance', another 'Robert Lavalois' and a 'Queen Victoria'. Many of these cultivars were in groups and auctioned off in any number of ways. These represented a good sized portion of the rooted cuttings.

- 3:09PM: The final grouping of crotons in the auction were 'Pride of Winter Haven' specimens. They went out one at time to anyone who wanted to pay $2.00. #337


- As Jeff was wrapping up the auction with the 'Pride of Winter Haven' plants, the attendees knew the auctions end was coming and began to move from their comfortable spots. They were moving around, getting limbered up and preparing for the last phase of the meeting, which was going to involve a few different activities.


- 3:10PM: The red table was finally clear of crotons and there was a triumphant round of applause from the crowd. It was an incredible auction, one of the best of recent memory at a plant related event. People began to move once again as Jeff was handed a stray air layer of 'Magnificent'. It was given to Alex for just being a young person at the meeting.


- 3:11PM: Attendees began to disperse when someone asked "What about the bromeliad?" A rather impressive species Tillandsia was sitting in a 'decorative' box under the Ficus for the entire day. The species was told to the crowd but I could not hear it very well, I think it began with the letter "R". A brief description was given complete with care instructions and the different ways it could be grown, especially as a ground cover. It reached a bid of $21.00 and was sold.

In behind Jeff on the right one more stray croton had found its way onto the red table, previously hidden somewhere in the Ficus leaf litter. No one claimed ownership of the plant and it had no tag. It remained a mystery plant and was sold for $5.00. The crowd broke formation immediately after and started to wander and chat with each other. Jeff received a long round of applause for his hard work as auctioneer and deservedly so.


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General Meeting - Closure & Trading...

- 3:15PM: The attendees each had their own schedule for the end of the meeting. As the auction ended people took their time paying for their winning bids as most were not in a hurry to leave, even those with long drives ahead of them. If people were not in line paying their tabs, they were off chatting about crotons, discussing possible trades, walking around the yard doing small tours, sharing a drink, etc. Rob, Mike, Reggie and Alex wait for their totals as John uses his leg as a temporary desk for writing a check. They had to wade through Carol and Connie's stashes to get close. The two of them did an exemplary job of keeping the totals organized and made it fast and easy for attendees to give payment.


- Attendees were organizing their plants and grouping them together while chatting about all sorts of different topics. The topic of dogs came up and Jim Glock was describing how spoiled his "puppy" had become in regards to getting scratched. He was animating with his hands the actions his dog performs while she lays on her back. In addition to trading, there was also some gift giving going on. A few crotons were given away in lieu of future trades, or to pay someone in return for a gift made in the past.


- An open checkbook in a sea of newly acquired plants: The best indication of a successful auction at the end of a society meeting. Jerry was waiting for his total before writing the big check. Not only was he getting plants for himself, but he also collects for the Deerfield Beach Arboretum also known as the Tree Zoo. On the left, Ricky was borrowing Ron's wheelbarrow to start transporting his and Randy's spoils out to the car. While I was taking this shot I was hearing a commotion behind me near the opposite side of the Ficus...


- 3:16PM: When I turned around and walked across the heavy leaf litter, I saw a perfect scene and took one of my favorite photos from the entire day. This shot shows the true essence of fanatics supporting their addiction at a Croton Society meeting. Near the old hammock, attendees were getting shoulder to shoulder while looking over trade material brought by Judy Glock. It was fun to watch how they were jockeying for position. They needed the best angle to look at the plants and to ask Judy what she might want for them. There were trade offers that Judy turned down in a heartbeat while others she considered for a later date. Some tried to flat out buy the plants from her, but she refused and stood her ground like the Rock of Gibraltar.


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... General Meeting - Closure & Trading

- 3:17PM: While Judy was off trading her wares the other Glock, Jim, was taking a few moments to talk with Marie Nock. I was not sure what they were discussing, but it might have to do with Marie's unique bidding style. She kept her new 'Arrowhead' croton close to her at all times...


- 3:26PM: The crowd began to thin out as some attendees took their plants out to the parking lot and left. While others milled about, talking and walking through the yard. I was giving out directions to a few people who arrived late and missed the main tour who wanted to know where to go in the yard to look for crotons.

It was at this point I was made aware of the Post Tour at Jeff's place as he informed me and others about the side trip. Up the driveway in the distance, Randy and Ricky headed out and waved to everyone down here by the Ficus. Rob was heading up the driveway waving as he was on his way to Jeff's house for the Post Tour. Jeff invited everyone who wanted to come over for the Post Tour and was giving out directions to those who needed them.


- 3:27PM: Attendees continued to do their farewells as they worked their way out of the yard. Ron Kiefert was putting together a late croton tour and was asking for those who were interested in following along. He yelled over asking for Judy's help but she was in the middle of trading with Chris Mayhew. It was quickly apparent that this meeting had been one of the most fun and profitable events for the Croton Society. People were gathering around Connie and comparing this meeting's income level with the plant sales at USF. The remaining attendees began to wonder what the grand total was from the auction.

The focus of conversation also turned to the weather and how perfect it had been all day long. The threat of rain had caused some of us to bring rain gear. There were some clouds forming to the west, but they weren't going to impact the meeting.


- 3:33PM: The curiosity surrounding the auction total won over everyone and Carol and Connie decided to figure out the big number. With Carol reading off the numbers and Connie adding them up, the grand total came to be about $1352.00. Meeting expenses still had to be deducted from that amount, but it was still a monumental gain for the Croton Society.

The golf cart was running constantly ferrying people and their plants out to the parking lot as the last aspects of the meeting were quieting down. Those of us remaining under the Ficus were unsure about who was going to the Post Tour so we just said farewell to everyone as we were leaving.


At 3:41 PM, I packed up and began to leave from Mike Harris's residence and headed out west to Jeff Searle's home for the Post Tour...

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Post-Tour - Jeff Searle Residence...

Ode to traffic lights... After making a slow crawl across western Broward County and hitting almost every red light I arrived at Jeff's place at four minutes after Four in the afternoon. Even with my long ride, I seemed to be one of the first to make to the house. The sky had clouded up a bit and the view had gotten hazy. I grabbed my gear and headed towards the front gate. When I got within a few yards of the gate, I heard the sounds of a familiar diesel truck coming down the road. Jeff drove past me as I walked up the driveway.

- 4:09PM: As I approached the end of the driveway near the house I was greeted by Jim Glock and Kane, Jeff's remarkable Cane Corso, who was defending the yard while barking with one of his toys in his mouth. With the exception of the truck, canine greeting and some bird calls the yard was very quiet. I asked Jim if it was time for a beer and he replied with...

Jim: "It's beer-thirty."

The top question on everyone's mind was "who was coming?". A few more new people began to arrive as we were directed around the house, by the patio and in through the sliding glass doors to the living room; where we were invited to sit down. We began to absorb the air conditioning. Andrea Searle was in the middle of making and serving drinks, including one of the famous ones known for PRA's at the Searle residence, the Brandy Slush. We reflected on the meeting and the events that happened during the day.


- 4:21PM: We spent some time talking, drinking and cooling off inside when we decided to start the yard tour. We exited the house through the sliding glass doors in the background and people immediately started to point out crotons around the patio, with drinks in hand. The first one pointed out was 'Pop's Yard' as it was unavoidable. It is one of the most popular cultivars Jeff has planted around the patio. The drink in Jeff's hand was the aforementioned Brandy Slush, or Slushie when stated as singular. It has become an icon of plant related tours in the Searle yard. Not far away a 'Super Petra' was pointed out to the group.


- 4:23PM: The tour left the patio area and headed straight towards the center of the yard. There wasn't really a set plan as they pretty much meandered through following the trails lined with crotons. They were looking over a bed of crotons out of frame on the right that included a 'Sybil Griffin', 'Bob Alonzo', 'Candy-Cane' and a 'Queen of Siam'.


- 4:24PM: The tour did a sharp turn and went by the full sun area and headed east. On the left, Phil Stager was given a drool-covered dog toy to throw and became lifelong friends with Kane. Many of those on the tour had been here before, so in addition to pointing out cultivars to the newer visitors they ogled over ones they wanted. 'Revelation' is the yellow/green croton just in front of Jeff and a 'Victor LeMoine' is the next one over to the right. The colorful one in the foreground with the visible air layers is an -Unknown-.


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... Post-Tour - Jeff Searle Residence...

- 4:24PM: Within the same bed seen above is this 'Coral Pride'. It was tucked in between a few other plants and was hard to photograph as part of the group. Judy pointed out how corkscrewed some of the leaves had become. Notice the one and only air layer site, pointed out by those on the tour. Rob mentioned how Judy should put her name on the air layer right now.


- I always try to think that these tours would solve questions about identity, but they only seem to create new ones, even with all the knowledge walking around. Jeff and Judy look down and over at a 'Plaid Oak' in the lower right corner of the frame.


- 4:25PM: The tour continued slowly down the turf trail that winds in and around the center of the yard. The focus of the tour was on crotons, but the occasional palm or other plant was pointed out, including the Encephalartos trispinosus seen at the bottom of the frame. Jim Glock and Phil Stager look down at two different heads of a 'Wilma' as Andrea Searle joined the tour on the far right, with a brandy slushie in hand. Next to Andrea, Alise Ryan looks over a large specimen of 'Judy's Beauty'. You can guess who that croton was named after. The conversation shifted over to the brandy slushies as Andrea asked how they were for everyone and if they liked them...

Jim: "The only decent thing that came from my ex-wife."

Phil: [laughs] Andrea: "What?" Judy: "Oh that recipe... for the slushes." [ha ha]​

Andrea: "Did you get one? You didn't drink one did you Phil?" Phil: "No." Andrea: "Do you like it?" Andrea said talking to another person...​

Keith: "Now you see why I left my coke behind..."

Phil: "What is it ah, orange sherbet or something...?" Andrea: "Here taste it." Andrea let Phil sample some of her slushie.​

Jim: "There sorta kinda like a sherbet thing..." Andrea: "No, it has orange juice and..." Andrea continued with her description of it, along with some of the ingredients.​

Jim: "...and you keep them in your freezer and you just dip them out with an ice cream scoop. Put a little ginger ale in it. I'll send you the recipe."

They continued eastward down the trail. Jim had to poke fun at Jeff whenever it was convenient...

Jim: "What do you feed your scale with? ...crotons?" [laugh]​


- 4:27PM: A short jaunt down the trail led us to this brightly colored plant that seemed to wow the tour a tiny bit. This is another Jeff Searle original named 'Catchup' seemingly a play on words with ketchup and catching up. The former being in reference to the orange and red colors that are mixed throughout the leaves. Actually, I think it was Andrea's idea to name it.


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... Post-Tour - Jeff Searle Residence...

- 4:27PM: The tour took a few extra minutes to examine the 'Catchup' so I went in closer to take a tighter shot of one of the heads. This instance of croton photography reminded me of how complicated it can be to represent the colors as accurately as possible. The light source and light magnitude can change without notice throughout a day of shooting. The guided tour continued and we walked past a 'Freckles'.


- 4:29PM: The slowly moving group reached the east side of the yard, moving and turning its way in between palms and trees. Jeff walked up onto a raised bed to announce a 'Daisy Pride' growing in amongst a few palms with a 'Thomas Hitchcock' just to the right. Jeff asked Phil and Keith if they had seen either of them before. The tour was heading to that croton filled area in the background known as the Robert Halgrim Collection.


- The visitors moved on while a few moved in close to examine the 'Daisy Pride'. The rest continued listening to Andrea as she described the work involved keeping the yard in shape including the movement of many loads of mulch. Those of us who are regular visitors looked for plants that had shown the most growth between now and our last visit.


- We entered a section of the yard dominated by the Robert Halgrim Collection. A brick walkway runs through the middle of the collection and it leads to a nearby shed. As we applied shoe to brick, I took a moment to get another shot of the 'Thomas Hitchcock'. Phil said he knew of only one other plant growing in Sunken Gardens that was once identified by Bob Alonzo. #365


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... Post-Tour - Jeff Searle Residence...

- 4:32PM: I went ahead of the group as they were walking down the brick walkway and was first to the steps leading up to the shed. From this vantage point, I took a few elevated photos as the tour came towards me. I continued as they walked down the brick walkway and made the turn around the shed and headed onwards. The heavy concentration of crotons in this collection made the group slow to a crawl to take it all in. Rain drops had started to fall through the canopy, a few here and there.

You can get a closer look at the back of Jim's Key's shirt as he stood at the head of the pack. In case you can't make out the lettering, it says... "See the Lower Keys on your Hands and Knees." Jim is definitely a booster for the Florida Keys and the Keys lifestyle...


- 4:33PM: The tour made the corner by the shed and headed back towards Palm Circle in the corner of the yard. Having croton familiars and regular visitors Jim & Judy Glock on the tour saved Jeff a lot of time identifying everything. Judy points out a thin leaf croton in the lower left corner that is supposedly named 'Wissmanii'. It was identified after another specimen was seen and named in Mike Harris's yard earlier in the day. Keith was doing his staring thing again...


- Jeff examines another big leaf -Unknown- from the Robert Halgrim Collection and shows it to John Ryan as the tour continued on. A 'Red Quill' is just behind Jeff and to the left of Rob. Many of the unnamed cultivars in Jeff's collection are assigned numbers to keep them apart and organized. #368 Phil is off to the right throwing a dog toy over and over again, as he was getting trained by the dogs...

Phil talking to the dogs: "Hey do you want this?" After he threw the toy the dogs ran off chasing it...​

Me: "Phil your going to have best friends forever."

Phil: [laughs] "... A little bigger than my Yorkie..." Me: "Oh, just a little bit."

The toy then instantly reappeared at Phil's feet...

Phil: "Oh... you again..." Judy: [laughing] Phil again picks up and throws the toy out into the yard, even further this time.​

Andrea: "Yeah, once you throw it once, forget it."

Playing with the dogs became part of the tour as they followed us were ever we went, especially Phil.


- 4:34PM: We entered Palm Circle and headed around the corner looking at everything tucked in small spots and odd locations. There are many crotons planted in this area and they were too numerous to photograph during the tour. The old croton seen here along the property edge is actually two plants growing together and also represents two cultivars spread across both plants. This is 'Charmer' that also has 'Blotched Charmer' mixed in throughout both plants. #369 Members of the group almost walked into a huge spider web as they were walking through Palm Circle. A 'Porter's Pink Veitchii' was in the landscape not far away on the right.


As we made the rounds through Palm Circle we saw some key cultivars including 'Monarch', 'Polychrome', 'General Marshall', 'Applause' and a large 'Captain Gilbert Cutler' showing some massive leaves. Jim admired the 'Captain Gilbert Cutler' and asked Jeff sarcastically...

Jim: "Hey Jeff... this Capt'n Gilbert... is this the small leaf variety?" Jeff: "Yeah, sure Jim."

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