Suggestions Covering Test Gardens and Display Gardens
Under the Auspices of The A.R.S.
Display Gardens are those developed to contain varieties that are in the trade, or available to it, and are essentially "variety collections." The purpose of display gardens is to promote interest in rhododendrons and enable A.R.S. members and the general public to study and compare varieties growing under local conditions.
Such gardens should be in a public place, arboretum, botanic garden, college or university grounds, or public park, or in a private garden where the public is regularly admitted, either free or on payment of a fee. If a fee is charged the committee in charge should have free access at any reasonable time.
Plants may be furnished by the owners or management of the garden, by A.R.S. members, nurserymen or any interested individual. Ordinarily, and unless covered by special agreement, the plants, once established, become the property of the garden management.
A.R.S. chapters are encouraged to establish, or foster, one or more display gardens in their territory, wherever and whenever satisfactory arrangements for proper care can be made. The details are the responsibility of the Chapter, but should include a written agreement between the Chapter officers and the management of the garden establishing the responsibility of each as to furnishing of plants, ownership of plants furnished, layout of garden, care needed and who will furnish such care, accessibility to the public, protection against theft and vandalism, whether or not propagating material may be taken, and any other important consideration. If at all possible arrangements should be made so that routine care will be the responsibility of the garden management and not of the Chapter membership.
Chapters sponsoring display gardens should have a regular committee to work out the details and provide continuing oversight, promotion, or whatever is needed to make the project a success.
A Test Garden is designed to provide facilities for growing new or special varieties so that they may be judged for A.R.S. awards. Since A.R.S. awards should indicate the same standard of excellence, wherever they are given, the A.R.S. should be kept informed as to the location of test gardens, the text of agreements with the institution or garden where they are located, and the list of varieties as they are accepted for test.
Obviously more care must be exercised in establishing a Test Garden as potentially valuable varieties, not yet available to the public, may be submitted for test and possible award. The theft of such a plant, or unauthorized taking of propagating material might prove very embarrassing.
Since local conditions may vary considerably, and since the local Chapter must take full responsibility for the terms of the agreement, and the supervision of the Test Garden, no arbitrary form of agreement is proposed by the A.R.S. However, any proposed agreement should be submitted to the Secretary of the A.R.S. for reference to and approval by the proper committee.
Such agreement should clearly specify the location of the Test Garden, the responsibility of the Chapter and the Garden management, the provisions for care of the plants, the accessibility and methods to be used to prevent theft. A copy of the agreement should be available, on request, to anyone contemplating entering plants for test.
Furthermore, before plants are accepted for test, an agreement should be signed by the person entering the plants clearly stating whether or not they shall be returned to him and specifically absolving the Chapter and the A.R.S. from any liability if the plants should be stolen or injured in any way, or if propagating material should be stolen.
Free access by the general public is not necessary and may be undesirable. Adequate and continuing care of the plants and provision for free access by the proper persons is most important.
The local Test Garden committee should have authority to turn down plants to exclude certain pests, or where a breeder may want to enter several similar plants and have the judges do the "selecting" which he should do.
The matter of entry fees is left to the local committee with the suggestion that none be collected. If high they will tend to discourage entries, if low they will be of little value and a nuisance to collect and administer.
The methods of judging, and other pertinent information, may be found in "Rhododendrons 1956", pp 153-157.
The above rules were approved by the Board of Directors of the American Rhododendron Society, November 23, 1958.