Seed Exchange 1968 -'S Wonderful
Esther Berry, Aberdeen, Wash.
The main part of our fifth seed distribution program is now over. Probably the most important thing that can be said about it is that it is still growing strong.
To help us see more clearly, how far we have come, it might be interesting to make some comparisons with our beginnings. In the fall of 1963, the board of directors came to the decision that we should undertake a seed exchange. I got the job. not because I was the best qualified, but just because I habitually rush in where angels fear to tread.
The Board of Directors, to fund this new program advanced $100 with which I purchased some seed cleaning screens, stationery and stamps. I recruited two chapter members, Rose Haines and June Maxey to make up our first committee and we were ready for business. Our seed list was to be published in the January bulletin; on January 1 we had only 12 or 15 items to list and it appeared that the seed exchange might die. This is the one thing that remains unchanged; for the past five years I have faced the New Year in a state of panic.
Somehow, after a few delays, we were able to put together a list of 125 items. Of the 25 contributors to that original list, 11 are still with us. We sent out about 1200 packages of seed that year and we were mightily pleased with ourselves.
This year our list contained nearly 500 items supplied from 63 different sources. Our committee prepared for distribution over 12,000 packages of seed. Our income, above operating costs, will be about $2500. I should explain that the cost of printing and mailing the seed list is paid out of the national treasury, so this figure does not represent a clear profit to the society. Refunds for items which we were unable to supply total $575.
Perhaps the most exciting development has been the contribution of seed collected in the wild. From Borneo, came seed of two Malaysian species; from Johannes Hedegaard in Denmark, we have had seed collected in the Pyrenees of Spain, the mountains of Austria, the U.S.S.R., China and Australia. From Japan we have had the collections of Dr. Rokujo, Mr. Takeuchi, Mr. Wada and Frank Doleshy. It would be hard to overestimate the value of Mr. Doleshy's expeditions, surely they are the best thing that could have happened to the seed exchange.
Many people have expressed interest in the kinds of seed most requested. It is difficult to be really specific about this but perhaps some rather general information would be useful. There is a keen interest in anything collected in the wild; the various forms of R. metternichii and R. chrysanthum probably top the list but Dr. Mossman's R. occidentale was also in great demand. Second only to the Japanese seed was R. yakushimanum and its hybrids. Unfortunately, we had only very small amounts of R. yakushimanum crosses this year. Generally speaking there is a greater demand for species than for hybrids and a marked preference for hand pollinated seed over the open pollinated.
In thinking of kinds that are most frequently requested, there is a tendency to think first of those that were in short supply. R. quinquefolium, R. pentaphyllum, R. makinoi, R. chaetomallum are all highly coveted. There were also a great many requests for R. mallotum, R. caloxanthum, R. souliei which did not come in as we had anticipated. This is a hazard we must accept since we send our list to the printer before all the seed arrives.
We offered a rather large number of species for the first time this year and these attracted considerable attention. These were R. dictyotum 'Kathmandu', R. farrerae, R. fumidum, R. lepidostylum, R. stenophyllum, R. stictophyllum, R. thayerianum, R. tashiroi, R. ellipticum, R. rhabdotum, R. serotinum, R. imperator and R. strigillosum.
Several species which we have listed every year and for which there is a continuing demand, year after year are R. augustinii, R. calophytum, R. schlippenbachii, R. sutchuenense, R. fortunei, R. fargesii, R. carolinianum with the dwarf form of R. keiskei at the top of the list. The Exbury azalea seed should also be included in this list. From the very beginning, there has been tremendous interest in this group. This year's selection was the best we have offered and the response was greater than ever.
Among the hybrid crosses, there was exceptional interest in those using orange flowered kinds such as 'Fabia', 'Goldsworth Orange', and R. caloxanthum-orange, as parents. The 'Pink Twins' and 'Odee Wright' crosses were also popular. Supplies of all of these were inadequate. Fortunately, we had excellent supplies of most of the yellow crosses offered and there was a great demand for them. If we do not find the 'ultimate' yellow, it will not be for lack of trying.
It is always pleasant to be associated with a project that really succeeds, in this case, this is especially true. Those of us who have worked on the seed exchange have found the work interesting and rewarding. The membership has been very generous in expressing its appreciation and each year we put it away with the wonderful feeling that we have made a contribution of real value.