A Report from John C. Wister
Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Last spring I tried the experiment of sending out a one-page mimeographed letter about my activities the previous year. I was amazed and pleased at the response. That has encouraged me to send out this longer letter this year. My news will be of more interest to horticulturists than to others.
I wish every one of you could have been here to enjoy last spring's gorgeous bloom in Swarthmore. The Magnolias and the flowering Cherries and Apples, the Lilacs, Azaleas and Rhododendrons and the Iris and Peonies were really marvelous. The Daffodil collection attracted the greatest number of visitors and we expect even more this year to see our new planting in the nursery, 30 rows, 400 feet long, covering close to 500 varieties.
My first trips were to Chevy Chase to see the Daffodil show and meet the organizers of the new American Daffodil Society and later to Staten Island to Kenneth Smith's who has the finest of the new British Daffodil varieties and many fine seedlings. In May I visited the Iris collections in Cedar Brook Park, Plainfield, the Rutgers collection of over 1100 varieties and the Presby Memorial Iris Garden in Montclair.
A longer trip took me to Cleveland to visit Tony Shammarello, a breeder of a new race of early flowering Rhododendrons; to St. Louis where I spent three days with Harold Wolfe seeing his remarkable collection of Tree Peonies. He grows them better and in greater quantity than anyone I have ever seen. He and I worked together on an article for the January National Horticultural Magazine which has been very well received. We visited the Missouri Botanical Garden of course. In Des Moines I saw again the Ewing Park Lilac Collection. I am each year more proud to have been associated with this. On the way home I visited the Morton Arboretum, the D. Hill Nursery and Mission Gardens, and also Orville Fay and David Hall.
In May I attended the dedication of the Morrison Azalea Garden in the National Arboretum in Washington. Several hundred of the leading horticulturists from all over the country were present.
In May also I went to Greenwich, Connecticut, to see Mr. Beinecke's new planting of Dexter hybrid Rhododendrons, some of them gorgeous deep pink shades. On May 20th I received the "Distinguished Service Award" of the New York Botanical Garden.
In June I attended my forty-fifth Harvard class reunion. I made four other visits to Boston in connection with the very unhappy controversy over the Arnold Arboretum. I feel that the changes that the Harvard officials are making there are very detrimental, and fear they may in time entirely destroy the value of the Arboretum.
In August I made a long-planned trip to the Pacific northwest. I visited five arboretums all new to me--the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, the University of Washington Arboretum in Seattle, the Finch Arboretum in Spokane, the Whitnal Arboretum Dutside of Milwaukee, and the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison. Each was full of interest. I met people with whom I had corresponded for years and I never had such a good time in my life.
The Holly Society held its Spring meeting in Swarthmore and its Autumn Meeting in Millville. At the spring meeting we were fortunate in having Miss Elizabeth White, whose death later in the year we all mourn.
During the year, in addition to the new Daffodil planting, we enlarged our Rhododendron collection and planted a whole new collection of 150 varieties of Lilacs. At the Tyler Arboretum in Lima we planted a woodland collection of Rhododendrons and related plants and completed the preparation of the ground for the new Pinetum. In both Swarthmore and Lima we took a beating from the October 15th hurricane, and have been busy cleaning up ever since. Fortunately in neither place, did we lose many important trees, but we did lose some very fine ones.
My winter plans to finish a new edition of Swarthmore Plant Notes, on which I have some 600 typed pages of manuscript, were rudely interrupted February 2nd by a fall which broke my hip, and I was in the hospital more than a month and I am now home confined to a wheel chair. My spring work will be handicapped, but the doctors say I shall be walking by summer. I have had visitors galore and gifts of fruit and flowers and innumerable letters and cards. Everybody has been perfectly wonderful to me. I never knew people could be so kind.