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Home > Oklahoma Convention

“Going Wild in Oklahoma”

By Tom Keepin, Houston, TX

The 2011 National Convention and Southwest Region Get-together will be hosted by the Fred A. Barkley Branch on Wednesday, May 11th to Sunday, May 15th 2011 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Our hotel is the Biltmore Hotel Oklahoma located at 401 Meridian Avenue (1-40 @ Meridian) Our room rate is $65.00 per night plus tax. For reservations please call 1-800-522-6620. A free breakfast buffet each morning of your stay is included. Check out their website at

The Biltmore is a one of a kind hotel. There are others around the country, but each is individually owned and not part of a chain. This Biltmore Hotel has a western theme as they cater to Horse Show and rodeo attendees and participants.

The convention will kick off on Wednesday May 11th with tours starting at 9:00 A.M.

(Oklahoma City and the surrounding area has some great antiquing. If you are interested in antiquing as part of a tour please let Dianna Wilkerson know as soon as possible at 405-390-4228 so arrangements can be made if we have enough that are interested.)

Here are just a few of the tours we have planned for you:

Bustani Plant Farm is a must see if you like tropicals, perennials and just the unusual you can visit their website at

You can take a look at the Mabee Gerrer Chapel, Museum and School by going to Google. The Chapel was built in 1875 and run by monks. The Chapel today is still run by monks and is a working monastery; there is a museum and small college on the property.

We’ll visit the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens. OKC spent millions of dollars redoing the grounds over the last 4 years. Mark Howery, of the Barkley Branch, will walk with us and help identify plants and wild birds.

Seminars include Steve Owens of Bustani Plant Farm speaking the evening before we visit his nursery. Dr. Rekha Morris will describe her latest collecting trip. And, Mark Howery will give us an insight into trailing scandents.

And start grooming your plants – there will be a judged show! This is your chance to show your plant at a national level. Remember – if you don’t enter you can’t win.

These tours and seminars are just a sample of what we have planned for you. Oklahoma City is a beautiful city with a lot of things to see. We are looking forward to having you come and visit and be treated to real Western hospitality

We are using the Biltmore Hotel Oklahoma for the convention The Biltmore has years of experience catering to conventions, especially national class horse shows and the International Finals Rodeo. 

 For those folks driving to the meeting, the Biltmore is located at the intersection of I-40 and Meridian Ave on the west side of Oklahoma City. If you are flying into Will Rogers World Airport, the Biltmore has a contract with Airport Express shuttle service. Airport Express uses blue vans with an “Airport Express” logo in yellow letters. Airport Express will transport you between the airport and the Biltmore free of charge.

Our room rate is $65.00 per night plus tax for a room with either one king bed or two double beds. This rate is guaranteed thru 27 April. Two breakfast vouchers are included for each room. For reservations please call 1-800-522-6620.

There will be a small number of larger rooms (suites) available at higher rates. If you have any questions about the facility or would like to enquire about more spacious accommodations, our convention contact is Brittany Littke. 

Note: The Biltmore is a two story facility and there is NO ELEVATOR to the second floor. All handicapped accessible rooms are located on the first floor. Please plan accordingly.

Wednesday tour: We are planning a picnic lunch at the Wilkerson’s home and greenhouse on the way the Mabee-Gerrer Museum in Shawnee ( It has a permanent collection of Egyptian, Greek and Roman objects, Renaissance art, and Native American artifacts. The traveling exhibit during our visit is a display of Rembrandt etchings.

Built in 1919, the museum is located on the grounds of St. Gregory’s University (, which is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in Oklahoma.  The school traces its roots back to a mission founded in 1875 by Benedictine monks. We will also have an opportunity to view some beautiful stained glass windows in the university chapel.

Wednesday night seminar: For the past 35 years, Oklahoma State University has produced Oklahoma Gardening, a weekly 30 minute gardening show broadcast on a state wide PBS network. Our speaker, Steve Owens, was the host of Oklahoma Gardening from 2001 to 2006 before he left the show to pursue a lifelong dream of owning his own specialty nursery. Today, Bustani Plant Farm ( is a unique nursery which carries a mix of perennials, tropicals, and Oklahoma native plants.

Here are two videos of Steve and the current host of Oklahoma Gardening viewing the display beds at Bustani Plant Farm. and

We will set up the plant sale room on Wednesday and Thursday, as required, and set up the show room for judging on Thursday.

Thursday tour: We will travel to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater to view the Botanical Garden & Arboretum and all the outdoor display gardens. After lunch we will journey to Bustani Plant Farm, located just a few miles south of Stillwater, for a tour and a shopping trip.

Thursday night seminar: Mark Howery, longtime Barkley Branch member and grower, will give a presentation on trailing scandent begonias. Mark is employed by the state of Oklahoma as a non-game wildlife biologist.

Friday: Show judging during the day.

Friday tour: We will travel to Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanic Gardens . Mark Howery's office is located on the Zoo grounds and he will be leading the tour. You will be back to the Biltmore in plenty of time for supper and the plant sale. We plan to open the doors of the members’ only plant sale and the show room at the traditional starting time of 7:00 PM.

Saturday: The plant sale will be open to the public from 8:00AM to 4:00 PM. We are still working on the speaker lineup for the Saturday morning classes and seminars. Lunch is scheduled for noon. The afternoon is reserved for ABS and Southwest Region board meetings. We plan to start the awards banquet and funding raising auction at 7:00 PM.

If you put plants in the show we request you remove them Saturday night after the auction or early Sunday morning. We must have all plants and equipment out of the meeting rooms by Sunday noon.

We have tried to arrange the tours to show you places in Oklahoma where you have not been before. Your registration packets should be in the mail in early February. We hope to see everyone in Oklahoma City for the convention.

Call Kenny or Dianna Wilkerson at (405) 390-4228 with your questions.

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