The New Zealand Caper
by Mark Collarino and Marjorie Baird
Thought you might like to hear about our 48 hours with 66 guests from New Zealand. It was a whirlwind friendship which we wish could have lasted longer, at a slower pace. Our plans were grandiose. We would show them the Arboretum, private gardens, nurseries, views, historic spots, wine them, and dine ,hem! But cold reality was dashed into our dreaming eyes.
Peter, one of their two Greyhound guides, phoned the night before they arrived to say that our schedule was far too strenuous: that his charges were practically exhausted from their tour, which had begun several weeks before in southern California. We could not loosen our Thursday schedule-the Arboretum and the Donald Graham garden-for Brian Mulligan was in Europe and Joe Witt had to leave at noon for a speaking engagement. The Grahams were hosting a large luncheon meeting-also at noon. Ruth and Ralph Jacobson came to the rescue and helped Mr. Witt with the Arboretum and Mr. Graham stayed home from his office that morning to guide his guests.
Thursday afternoon we left them to their own devices, resting, shopping, etc. but at five they arrived in their busses at the Preview of the Seattle Rhododendron show, held at Crossroads this year. The Arboretum Foundation co-sponsored, with us, the Preview Party, for which tickets were sold to pay show expenses. At 6:30 they were whisked away by their 14 member dinner hosts. Most dined at private homes, some at the Space Needle, and some on cruisers after a short sail on Lake Washington. All of us seemed to feel this was the most enjoyable contact-being able to talk to each other-a few at a time at a quiet, uninterrupted pace. But unfortunately that was our only chance.
Next morning they were whisked away, on their busses, to Jim and Betty Caperci's "Rainier Mt. Alpine Gardens." Jim postponed a judging engagement long enough to show them through the nursery with the help of Madeline and Art Luther. Then on to tour the lovely garden of hospitable Isabelle and Lawrence Pierce where they enjoyed a catered luncheon, courtesy of the Rhododendron Society. This was followed by a tour of the Henry Issacson's beautiful garden in the Highlands from where all proceeded to the home of Dr. C. Edward Simons, in Woodway Park to wind up our two full days together with a buffet supper, again the courtesy of the Society. Mr. Harold Marchant, the director of the tour, showed some beautiful slides of the New Zealand countryside and the splendid rhododendrons grown there. The visitors assured us that they had had a marvelous time in the United States, and in Seattle and all of us who were privileged to meet them certainly felt the visit all too short.
Nice people - the New Zealanders! We all hope our paths may cross again.