The Annual Meeting Report
We were hopeful that we could publish in this issue all the papers given at the Annual Meeting in New York, May 21-23. Unfortunately they have not arrived although we have held up publication for them. We hope to have the remaining papers in the October Bulletin.
These papers, which constituted one important part of the Annual Meeting, will speak for themselves. There were two other aspects of the meeting which are especially worthy of mention. The first would include the general arrangements, the chance to meet old friends and make new ones, and the general air of sincere interest in the genus Rhododendron. The visitors ate together even at breakfast which gave a wonderful opportunity to visit and get acquainted with people we have known by name but not personally. The facilities at Planting Fields were excellent for this type of meeting. There were cafeteria facilities for certain meals and caterers came in and served others. At one of the dinners, set up as a buffet, the decorations were outstanding. A buffet table probably 30 feet long was in front of a beige colored back-drop which extended some 6 to 8 feet above the table. Pinned on this in artistic arrangement were full trusses of rhododendrons with leaves. They were in excellent condition and made a most appropriate and beautiful decorative accent.
The garden tours were another very important feature of the meeting. The details of the gardens, with some pictures, were given in the Bulletin before the Meeting. It should be said, however, that the tours were run off in fine style and that the gardens were extremely interesting. Visitors from the West Coast were particularly interested in the varieties being grown. They saw a number of familiar sorts, particularly at the home of Nat Hess. Many of our so-called Northwestern varieties, which we have considered too tender for Eastern culture, were growing here in very good condition. Of extreme interest, of course, were the very nice plants of the Dexter varieties and their offspring seen in several gardens. A number of these varieties are good enough in plant and flower character to compete with some of the best of the West Coast things, and in addition to that are quite hardy. It is to be hoped that we will be able to print further evaluations of these varieties including not only appearance but opinions as to hardiness and general ease of growing.
The gardens visited were quite outstanding, not only for fine rhododendrons, but for excellent landscape design. Some, unfortunately, were suffering from the prolonged drought which has affected a large area over several states.
The last stop on the tours was at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John F. Knippenberg in Wayne, New Jersey. This was a fitting climax to five days of intensive rhododendron activity. The Knippenbergs have a beautiful home with wonderful landscape use of rhododendrons. However, of greatest interest perhaps was the extensive nursery area scattered through lightly wooded hill and valley. Here the visitors had a chance to hear about varieties, their propagation and their good and bad qualities as viewed from the nurseryman's standpoint as well as from the standpoint of the connoisseur. The Knippenbergs most generously provided refreshments and lunch for the entire group of visitors. They also provided a large number of rhododendron plants which were given to the visitors on the basis of numbers drawn from a hat. This was certainly a case where everyone was a winner.
We hope the wonderful program, banquets and tours provided by the New York Chapter will not act as a deterrent to other Chapters in inviting the American Rhododendron Society to have its Annual Meeting in their locality. It is realized that very few places, probably no other place in this country, has the number of fine old homes and wonderful estates to visit as does this particular area of New York State around Oyster Bay. Many of the homes are long established, were designed and built when grand homes were possible and very extensive gardens could be achieved and maintained.