C. I. Sersanous
The year 1955 proved to be a good one for the American Rhododendron Society. Much progress was made with increased membership, increased interest on the National level and on the local level, additional Chapters were added with more in the making. Splendid shows were also in evidence with most all of the Chapters participating. Our goal of 1000 members was reached and currently as of October 1, 1955, we have 1047 members from 914 as of October 1, 1954, which includes our exchange list.
We now have ten chapters, Portland having formed a Chapter as of July 1, 1955; British Columbia of Vancouver, B.C., having formed hands with the A.R.S., giving now an International aspect to our National organization. Grays Harbor Chapter of Hoquiam, Washington, was admitted and just recently our latest Chapter was formed in New Jersey called the New Jersey Chapter of the A.R.S., with headquarters in Montclair, New Jersey. Other chapters include, New York, N.Y.; Mid Atlantic at Richmond, Virginia; California Chapter at Oakland, California; Eugene Chapter at Eugene, Oregon; Tacoma Chapter of Tacoma, Washington; and the Seattle Chapter of Seattle, Washington.
The financial condition of the Society continues to improve; the auditors report having been published in the July Bulletin, Vol. 9 Number 3. Sufficient funds are available as of January 1, 1956, to proceed with the construction of the exhibition cool house building. The October, 1955, issue of the Bulletin, Vol. 9-Number 4, Pages 216-17-18 carried a story with an artists drawing of this proposed building. It is hoped, and which is a must, that this new project will be in readiness for our Portland rhododendron show as of May 19 and 20, 1956.
The Circulating Slide Library has not functioned too well during the year 1955. Only a few Chapters have requested use of these slides which are available on a basis of no rental and only postage to and from Portland, Oregon. The present collection consists of approximately 35 good selections of rhododendrons and azaleas. More should be secured and the Board of Directors resolved to purchase from any member duplicate slides of the original of good garden subjects. It is thought that we should have some 50 slides covering species and 75 covering hybrids.
Much interest was shown by growers of new seedlings during the year 1955 as evidenced by the activity of award committees. Seven splendid plants were awarded preliminary awards and after further tests, if successful, will be eligible for Test Garden Certificates. Some eight new seedlings were given preliminary awards in 1954.
This hybridization work requires time and patience upon the part of those growers engaged therein and results so far indicate that in the near future, some beautiful specimens will be available to the membership as New American Hybrids. Congratulations to those who have produced these P.A. plants and to the committees of awards who made the selections.
Seattle on May 12, again had an outstanding floral show co-sponsored by the University of Washington Arboretum. The landscape displays, some eighteen in number, in which keen competition and interest was shown, made a magnificent showing. A full account of this show was published in our Bulletin as of July 15, 1955, Vol. 9-Number 3.
The California Chapter won two blue ribbons at the Spring Show held in Oakland, California, on April 28 to May 6. This is the second time the California Chapter has won a blue ribbon in 1954. This Oakland Spring Garden Show sponsored by the State of California, is the show of shows for that State, the attendance at this show being over 100,000 garden enthusiasts. Congratulations again to the California Chapter for their splendid efforts.
The Portland Chapter held their eleventh annual show on May 14 and 15, at the Test Gardens on Crystal Springs Lake Island and on June 11 and 12, held a second non-competitive show for the benefit of the later blooming varieties. With over 2500 rhododendrons and azaleas, most of them in bloom during both shows, gave the public a sight to behold.
On November 11th a storm struck the entire Pacific Northwest, coming from the Gulf of Alaska and for one week there after, temperatures on the West Coast reached all time November lows from 4°F to 30°F above zero. Accompanied by high north or east winds, the storm created havoc and devastation with the more tender varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas.
The resultant damage was magnified by the condition of the plant which was still in a lush state of growth and with no apparent dormancy fell an easy prey to the rigors of the North.
What to do about it? Due to the weakened condition of the shrub it is not advisable to do any pruning until possible damage from this November cold spell can be determined. There most certainly will be a considerable amount of die back and to cut back now weakened plant tissue, that could be further damaged by extremely cold weather such as could happen in January or February, may kill the plant entirely.
Now is the time for heavy mulching. Do the cutting back at the time new growth starts in the Spring.
Our Quarterly Bulletin has proven during the past year responsible for many new members joining in our efforts in creating greater interest in the growing of rhododendrons and azaleas. The editor, Rudolph Henny, is to be commended for his efforts in this publication which without doubt is rated as tops among all single plant societies in the U. S. Mr. Henny will welcome from the membership any material of interest. Good pictures are also needed. He further extends thanks to the many contributors of reader material for the contributions they have made during the past year and which he trusts will continue during the year 1956.
The Board of Directors attended each and every meeting held during the year with a near perfect attendance. I should like to thank them personally for their splendid cooperation in carrying out the business affairs of the Society.
On behalf of the Directors and your President, may I thank Mrs. C. T. Hansen, Secretary of the American Rhododendron Society, for the efficient and cooperative efforts through her office in making 1955 a very successful year.
To our advertisers many thanks from Mrs. R. M. Bovee, Chairman of our Advertising Committee, for the support given the Bulletin for 1955 and a continuation through 1956.
To other Committee Chairmen and their Committees, may I personally thank them for their sincere efforts during the past year and their accomplishments. To all the Chapters, their members, and the entire membership, my very best wishes for a Happy New Year and a year that will bring forth much success to the Society. It has been a privilege and honor to have served you.