> Oklahoma Convention
“Going Wild in Oklahoma”
By Tom Keepin, Houston,
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
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
The Biltmore has years of experience
catering to conventions, especially national
class horse shows and the International
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.
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
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
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.
tour: We are planning a picnic lunch at the
Wilkerson’s home and greenhouse on the way
the Mabee-Gerrer Museum in Shawnee (www.mgmoa.org).
It has a permanent collection of
Greek and Roman objects, Renaissance art,
and Native American artifacts. The traveling
exhibit during our visit is a display of
1919, the museum is located on the grounds
of St. Gregory’s University (http://www.stgregorys.edu/),
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
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
two videos of Steve and the current host of
Oklahoma Gardening viewing the
display beds at Bustani Plant Farm.
set up the plant sale room on Wednesday and
Thursday, as required, and set up the show
room for judging on Thursday.
tour: We will travel to Oklahoma State
University in Stillwater to view the
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.
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.
Show judging during the day.
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
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.
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
Kenny or Dianna Wilkerson at (405) 390-4228
with your questions.