Spring Meeting of the Middle Atlantic Chapter
The Spring Meeting of the Middle Atlantic Chapter is becoming traditional.
An endeavor is made to have the meeting in an area in which some special arboretum, garden, or gardens, something in a rhododendron way found classically in that area and facilities for handling the group, are available. For the latter, lodging, banquet facilities and space for scientific talks are necessary.
For 1959, Asheville, North Carolina was chosen because of the availability of Biltmore (House and Gardens), of the native azaleas and rhododendron and because of The Battery Park Hotel. It can be said here that for the three days, June 12, 13 and 14th during which the meeting was held, no one could have taken better care of the group than the organization of this hotel.
It was there that the program got under way on Friday evening with a dinner in the rooftop Rhododendron Room. The speaker of the evening was Dr. Henry T. Skinner, Director of the U. S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. He gave an interesting talk on the work being done in a wide study and classification of the country's native azaleas.
B. Y. Morrison, former Director of the Arboretum and developer of the Glenn Dale hybrid azaleas, showed slides picturing beautiful new hybrids he is developing now that he has retired from federal government service and moved to Pass Christian, Mississippi. One of many observations he has made is that popular favorites are large flowers with white centers ringed with a band of color. He is developing a splendid collection of these.
Slides were also shown by Austin Kilham of Charlottesville, Va., including some made at the Test Garden in Portland; Edward Manigault of Fairmont, West Virginia and Harry Seevers of Ottawa, Kansas.
After an early morning breakfast Saturday, the group boarded a chartered bus and several automobiles for an all-day tour of mountain areas with a mid-day jamboree with box lunches. Many native species of azaleas were at the peak of their bloom. Unfortunately, on Roan Mountain the rhododendron only partially exhibited their glory, but even low clouds could not hide all the beauty of the 600 acres of R. catawbiense which grow naturally there. Dr. William N. Fortescue of Hendersonville, North Carolina, a member of the Southwestern Chapter ARS, acted as guide for the all-day tour.
The Southeastern Chapter entertained the group at a cocktail party at the Battery Park Hotel on Saturday night in the Pisgah room. At the dinner which followed, again in the Rhododendron Room, the speaker was Mr. Morrison who related many interesting experiences in his development of hybrid azaleas. He was introduced by Stuart Armstrong, of Washington, D.C., President of the American Horticultural Society.
A sidelight was Asheville's Annual Coronation of a King and Queen of the Mythical Kingdom of Rhododendron, a big event on the city's social calendar. The Chapter was invited to look in on the hall which followed the ceremony.
Sunday morning, after buffet breakfast, was devoted to a visit to the gardens of Biltmore, the 12,000 acre estate (it once embraced 145,000 acres) which Mr. George Vanderbilt created just south of Asheville. Host and guide was Mr. Fred Nisbet, Superintendent of Biltmore. He and his assistant, Mr. William R. (Bill) Garren were with the Chapter throughout the three day meeting. A tour of Biltmore House followed a picnic lunch.
A representative group of the Southeastern Chapter participated in the meeting. As usual, a guest group was invited to participate in the meeting. This ,year, The American Association of Arboretums and Botanical Gardens was invited.
Following the official meeting, a number of the group went to Pisgah Inn to spend a week to further investigate the native azaleas and rhododendron in Pisgah National Park. Anyone interested might like to know that Pisgah affords as much or more opportunity for this than any other place.