Distinguished Hybridizers Honored
Betty Hager, Albertson, N.Y.
Fig. 29. Plaque Award Dinner, honoring Mr. Guy Nearing (left) and
Mr. Joseph Gable (right). In center is Mr. Sidney Burns, President,
New York Chapter. Flower arrangement by Mr. H. Schlikjer
featuring HS-2 Dexter Rhododendron with 'Rosebud' Azaleas.
Photo Rudolph Wandt, Wantagh, N.Y.
Two eminent rhododendron pioneers, Mr. Joseph B. Gable and Mr. Guy G. Nearing, were honored on May 24th, at a dinner given by the New York Chapter at the Salisbury Club, East Meadow, L. I., N.Y.
Opening the program, President Sidney Burns said: "It is a great pleasure for us to see both Mr. Nearing and Mr. Gable here tonight-they are old friends who have contributed so very much to all of us. My experience with Guy goes back about nine years. I visited Guy at his nursery and noticed the many remarkable species he grew. I would go to buy a few plants and always ended up spending several hours with him-it was always a most wonderful visit. With Joe, it was a longer trip to Stewartstown, but some very interesting things happened on these visits. To recall one-I'd be walking through the woods and see something beautiful and then see a label on it marked "Mr. Selber." I'd ask Joe about it, and he said, "Oh yes, that belongs to Mr. Selber." About a year later you'd go, see this same plant as well as several others marked with this label. So finally I asked Mr. Gable why Mr. Selber didn't pick up his plants. Then Joe said to me, "Don't you understand German? Selber means myself (selbst)-these are plants I want to keep and if I told this to people, they would try to talk me out of it, so all I say is the plant belongs to Mr. Selber and I have no trouble!" Joe said I could tell this story tonight, as this no longer works.
Guy Nearing, in speaking about Mr. Gable remarked: "Years ago my doctor told me to get out into the open air, so I thought I would start a nursery. I accidentally found out how to grow rhododendrons from cuttings (this had been tried for a hundred years, and Mr. Nearing found out in two years) so I thought I'd better specialize in rhododendrons. Mr. E. H. Wilson told me the first thing to do was to get acquainted with Joseph Gable, which I did. We soon found we had a great common interest. Although we're 75 miles apart we still managed to see each other and wrote many letters, telling each other all we know. I had a stack of these letters from Joe which I allowed others to read and I don't remember who has them now. But we both gained greatly by exchanging information and I am sure others would gain if they did the same. We exchanged seeds, pollen, and plants. This went on for a good number of years, in fact it hasn't ended yet although we are not as active as we were. There were just a few interested in rhododendrons when we started, Paul Vossberg, Mr. Dexter and others, but we carried on for quite a while without any public interest-it was growing very slowly. Now it has really mushroomed and with the American Rhododendron Society growing by leaps and bounds, many more people are becoming interested. We are certainly delighted to see this happen. What we have contributed we are very glad we could contribute to the cause-the important thing is to get more and better rhododendrons and although Joe and I are both in our 70's, we're still working at it with more enthusiasm than ever!"
Mr. Gable then spoke: "I want to congratulate you all for your work in encouraging breeding of rhododendrons-for showing them and creating interest in them. The increase of rhododendrons since my last visit in 1935 is unbelievable. You're growing varieties and species that it's impossible for me to keep where I am (just about 40 miles north of Baltimore) I am about 900 feet above sea level, just about the same as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Remembering my first meeting with Guy, upon seeing me his very first words were "What kind of a rhododendron is this?"-so we got on equal terms right there!
Sometimes we have trouble with rhododendrons that have apomixis--one species or variety will, no matter what type of pollen you use, give you results from the seed parent. Somebody asked me about this, and it reminded me of an old story
A football coach was looking for men to play football and he saw two big fellows working on a building. He walked over and overheard one saying to the other "You know, about half of these nails are no good, they have the head on the wrong end!" Well, the other man just said, "Just put them in your pocket - and wait until you get around to the other side!"
So that's the way you have to overcome this apomixis!"
Mr. Paul Vossberg said "Reminiscing about the late 1920's when I first met the Gables, I can still remember the wonderful apple pie Mrs. Gable baked! Mr. Gable has done so much for rhododendrons-he has gone through the whole gamut, from azaleas through the scaley leaf and large leaf rhododendrons. In years to come we will still find Joe Gable's azaleas on the market, they will stand the test of time. His rhododendrons, too, will come through.
About 40 years ago the late Henry Hicks and I decided to visit Guy Nearing. We were so very impressed with his species, I had never heard of many of them before, he had about 50 or 60 different kinds in containers. Later on he had the unfortunate experience with the flash flood in the river but he started all over again and created his place in Ramsey, New Jersey. 1 think Guy Nearing deserves a great deal of credit! We all should feel very honored to have these two gentlemen here with us tonight."
Dr. S. O. Curry of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, a member of the Philadelphia Chapter remarked: "There are few equals and no superiors to Mr. Nearing, Mr. Gable, and Mr. Vossberg!"
Mr. Harry Logan, a member of the New York Chapter and a friend of Mr. Nearing for the past 30 years said: "Guy Nearing and I have enjoyed a good many botanical excursions together. There isn't a more knowledgeable person when it comes to plants, either native or cultivated. Guy has also introduced some very tine hollies as well as many select forms of native plants. He's also been editor of the Rock Garden Society magazine for a number of years and has produced a very important book on the lichens. He has a great interest in mushrooms - I've been amazed many times on field trips with him, passing along a woodland path, in a dim light he will spy some tiny plant - it is amazing what he can see with his one eye - he misses nothing - he's astounding! His opinions about plants are always honest and well considered. I don't know a person who has offered us more in good garden plants for this area."
President Burns then read a letter from Dr. Clement G. Bowers: "There are no persons I would rather honor than Joe Gable and Guy Nearing. They are both stalwarts with long and solid accomplishments to their credit - and neither is kidding himself or the public in anything he says or writes. What they say is always worth listening to because it is the result of good sound conservative judgment. The enduring values of their work will far outlast the snap judgments of others who are not so richly endowed with common sense."
Mr. Paul E. Sleezer, Vice President of the New Jersey Chapter and Mr. James P. Beury, Jr.. President of the Philadelphia Chapter, both extended greetings from their members, while Mr. Nathaniel Hess, past president of the New York Chapter; Mr. John Shamanek, past president of the Philadelphia Chapter; and Mr. Willet Titus, Locust Valley, L.I., N.Y. recalled colorful experiences with our guests.
President Burns then presented the plaques:
TO GUY G. NEARING: Admired and revered for your courageous spirit, and your devoted and dedicated work with rhododendrons in the creation of many outstanding hardy hybrids and select forms of species. We present this plaque (in grateful appreciation from the New York Chapter, American Rhododendron Society. S. V. Burns, President, May 24, 1964.
TO JOSEPH B. GABLE: Renowned for your many splendid rhododendron and azalea hybrids, treasured and admired throughout the world. Esteemed for your integrity, your vision, and modesty. We present this plaque, in grateful appreciation from the New York Chapter, American Rhododendron Society. S. V. Burns, President, May 24, 1964.
On the dais table a flower arrangement by Mrs. Hugo Schlaikjer featured the HS-2 Dexter rhododendron combined with Mr. Gable's 'Rosebud' Azaleas.