Remarks By The A.R.S. President At The Annual Meeting
Edward B. Dunn, Seattle, Wash.
You have read the reports of the treasurer and of several of our standing committees. I would like to say just a few words about what was accomplished during the past year and what your Board is striving to do for the future. First of all, we have had an increase in our membership and we now total about 3,000 members in 23 chapters. There are 3 more chapters in the offing and we hope they will soon be in existence. The great problem with membership is the same as that one hears about in the schools, the dropout. We will always have members dropping out, of course, but the feeling is that we can retain many of these members by simply asking them to continue their membership.
As you well know the by-laws were amended and changed during the last year and you have been advised that there will be a dues increase beginning in 1968.
The Ratings and Award Committees have worked very hard during the past year and have prepared a great deal of information which will appear in the forthcoming Book.
There has been much closer cooperation between the eastern and western chapters of the Society during the past year. To a great extent, this is due to the good offices of Board member Alfred Martin, who attended most of the meetings. Now that Dr. Thomas Wheeldon is also on the Board we anticipate that all meetings will have a good representation from the eastern chapters.
Looking ahead, a long range planning committee is at work with the following aims in view:
- Means to provide more information and service to our membership.
- Improvement of the Bulletin and publication of additional books and pamphlets.
- Continuation and enlargement of our present very successful Seed Exchange.
- Additional rating and awards information which needs to be constantly upgraded. There are many areas where information is missing and we hope that the entire membership will join in on this work. Surely this is one of the main purposes and reasons for a Rhododendron Society.
- Encouraging a breeding program using some of the tropical varieties of rhododendrons that have been brought to attention in the last few years.
- Producing more information with regard to heat tolerance of rhododendrons as well as hardiness.
- Encouraging more inter-chapter exchange of programs, use of slides, etc., and a creation of a National Library of slides and books.
These are some of the many things that we hope to work on during the next year and these should be a benefit to all members of the Society.
As a plant Society, interested in the use of ornamental shrubs in our gardens, I feel that we have a sort of missionary role to play in this country of ours. We are all aware of the constant attrition taking place against America's landscape. The proliferation of highways, billboards, junk yards and other forms of landscape pollution has been so great that even the Federal Government is concerned. Now that Washington and many state governments are interested we are seeing a flow of tax money into so called beautification. This is most encouraging.
However, it is your money and your community. Well intentioned, as they may be, most engineers, highway, and otherwise, have much to learn about plant material and its proper use. In my own town as an example, a glaring new freeway is being planted with a foreground of 'Hino' azaleas backed up to R. 'Sappho' all in full sun and concrete glare. Some people may like the combination. I do not. But, despite taste, how long will poor 'Sappho' stand full sun, even our filtered Puget Sound variety? To say nothing of reflected highway heat?
This is a place where I feel the A.R.S. can give service to the public. I do not mean political involvement. I do mean education. Are there not many opportunities for chapter projects in local highway plans, park plantings and general horticultural beautification programs? Display gardens which demonstrate the use of rhododendrons can do much to guide advisory boards and our members can be of great help in preventing the wasteful and ugly landscaping so often seen.
I strongly feel that the American Rhododendron Society and its members are in position to aid in the beautification program. I urge all members and all chapters to take part in what surely is a very worthwhile labor.
This has been such a wonderful and successful annual meeting at Asheville that it is very hard to adequately express our thanks and appreciation to the officers, the chairman, the committees and all those members of the Southeastern Chapter who helped to make this a most memorable annual gathering. I should like to turn the meeting back to President Buck Thorne and assure him that he and his chapter members have certainly earned the gratitude of all of us for a most interesting and enjoyable 3 days.