THE PRELIMINARY AWARD
When the A.R.S. system of awards was set up a number of years ago it was realized that there was need for some award to encourage rhododendron breeders to have their best seedlings looked over by a competent group of critics. There had been no system of awards in this country and only a few of the more experienced breeders were aware of the system being used in the British Isles. The Preliminary Award, therefore, was set up to mean just what the name implies. It was to encourage breeders to have their varieties looked over but was not considered to be the final award. To encourage participation at that time it was offered on the basis of a cut truss brought in to a Show or to a meeting of Awards Committeemen. More recently it has been given only on the basis of an entire plant, either seen in a garden or dug and exhibited at a Rhododendron Show.
It was realized, of course, that not all of the varieties receiving the P.A. would live up to their apparent possibilities as indicated the first year or two they bloomed. It was hoped that most of these varieties would be shown again after a few years, when their growth habit and potential were more evident, at which time they might receive the Award of Excellence if they seemed to merit it. However, relatively few P.A. plants have been called to the attention of Awards Committeemen for consideration for the A. E.
The Board of Directors has discussed this matter a number of times. There has been a wish on the part of some to terminate Preliminary Awards after a given period and one period suggested has been seven years. At the last meeting of the Board of Directors this was brought to a vote and voted down by a narrow margin. Probably most of the Directors were in sympathy with the idea but did not see how an award once given could be removed. Once an award has gotten into print and that information has been distributed all over the world it is pretty difficult to work out any practical technique for removing that award.
In an endeavor to improve the situation in so far as possible, the Directors did two things. First they voted that the P.A. Award should carry the year with it. The idea was that if a variety received a P.A. tenor fifteen years ago, and has not attained the A. E. it would obviously indicate that the variety is not too high in quality, or that the owner or introducer did not want to go to the trouble of asking for a higher award. P.A. - however indicates that this is a new variety, which seemed worthy of a Preliminary Award and it would be hoped that the originator would in a short while put it up for a higher award.
The Board suggested that this matter be called to the attention of the members and that those who have varieties which received a P.A. in years past should be urged to have the plants observed for possible Awards of Excellence. According to present rules only varieties with a P.A. are eligible for an A. E.