The E-Mail Robin for the American Hemerocallis Society celebrated its 20th anniversary August 2014. The Robin has been a social, educational and interactive phenomena since decades before Mark Zuckerberg was even born.
The Robin began as an exchange of letters through the postal system at about the same time the American Hemerocallis Society became an official organization in 1946.
It is hard to imagine that the social network involved long periods of time between writing and then responding. These old correspondences are a treasure trove of historical curiosities.
Electronic forums became a popular means to include many members in a mass email grouping. Writing and responding could now happen with the speed of downloading through a dial-up IPS.
In August of 1994, the society opened an email forum, which Tim Fehr moderated; he is still the moderator today. This Robin quickly became popular. It is still so popular that the society has 17 listed E Mail Robins on their website. One list is for Spider lovers, for example. There are lists for other special daylily forms.
Benefits of Joining a Forum
Tim recently responded to some questions from Decoded Plants about this valuable service:
“The biggest benefit is probably expertise and experience within the membership that can be tapped with good questions and while not everyone will agree on the best method, and indeed depending on location and conditions there may be multiple ‘best methods’ to consider and try, but knowing others have had success or failures trying something new or different is worthwhile and can’t have a price put on it.”
A key component of this is, of course, members helping members grow their favorite flower.
Tim says that, “Ironically, the E-Mail Robin’s first membership was not gleaned from any AHS list but from the rec.gardens Newsgroup.”
The E Mail Robin may have begun with the humble beginnings of other plant loving forums but it was the organized American Hemerocallis Society that soon created their own species specific discussion group.
Members are passionate about their daylilies. They support and pay for services through annual dues so all can enjoy and share their expertise.
Why a Network is Important
There are over are over 60,000 recognized daylilies by the society. This is quite a huge number for a plant that gardeners have studied and improved upon for less than a hundred years.
The society lists 6 bulleted reasons for the popularity of growing daylilies. A wide range of colors and forms of the flowers as well as low maintenance from watering concerns as well as climate temperature are just a few of the more important reasons people grow this plant.
The other reasons begin with the relatively low level of pest or disease concerns. Most gardeners appreciate beauty without fuss. Soil types do not affect flower production to any great degree. And, through the impressive hybridizing programs of a legion of hybridizers, we can appreciate flowers nearly the whole season. Few other plants can boast these qualities.
Tim nostalgically comments about the E Mail Robin that, “It’s probably, to be frank, past its peak days . . .” Not to fear, he recommends all the other social media sites that are popping up. Tim quickly points out, “. . . I’d also mention that AHS group, the Daylily Group, the Daylily Pictures Group and other Daylily Facebook groups that exist and one doesn’t need to be an AHS member to participate.”
When one searches for the American Hemerocallis Society, Facebook shows nearly 900 active members. This doesn’t count the other Facebook groups that specialize in daylilies.
The Ease of Posting Pictures
So, what makes these new social website groups so popular? Posting an image is by far the most important aspect of these sites. The E Mail Robin, like many other forums of the 1990s through early 2000s, couldn’t include images.
The data processing concerns of early computers as well as the required download times simply couldn’t allow for visual attachments. Many of these problems are no longer important today. Yet, many people dislike or have trouble opening attachments.
Using a social media website eliminates these problems. It is easy to upload images. Any who choose to access the site will see images automatically displayed without any effort by the viewer. These posts show up without accessing a member’s email account which many find desirable.
The E Mail Forum and the other social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest, to name just a few, are precisely the educational and interactive aspects the American Hemerocallis Society strives to encourage.
The relatively low amount of dues help support and pay for these services so that no one person is over burdened. There is always someone who is just beginning to hybridize.
Where better to turn to get started than a sub group of members already hybridizing. Or, what about those individuals that like double flowers? There are collectors in the group who have their own collections impatiently sitting in their comfortable chairs in front of a monitor just hoping someone will ask about a new cultivar to see. The first flower open for a northern garden is a moment of excitement to share with the world.
Today may be the perfect time to again thank Tim and others in the society for their patience, diplomacy and tenacity of spirit to promote these important venues.
Daylily Social Communication
Now is the perfect time to discover a beautiful carefree perennial. Relive last season’s flowers on you favorite society sponsored social media site while the snow is flying and the sky is gray. Remember that it is always important to treat one’s self to something new with a bit of this year’s tax return.