Seeds, Signs, Symptoms
Esther Berry - Aberdeen, Wash.
If you are growing uncounted numbers of tiny seedlings on a sixty foot lot and your neighbors are beginning to think you a little strange, don't give it a thought. I have it on good authority that such activity is symptomatic of a superior intellect.
In searching my mind for a new facet to this subject, I recalled an interesting phenomenon that we who have worked on the seed exchange have observed. A rather large proportion of those who participate in the seed program belong to the medical profession. It seemed reasonable to assume that these professional people who are expert in matters of human well being, had found the culture of rhododendrons a welcome diversion from the pressures of their professional lives. In a recent book by a prominent sociologist, I found an explanation which expands this concept considerably. I felt so pleased to learn of the cosmic significance of our activities that I thought I should share this discovery with my fellow enthusiasts.
I quote, "Interest in nature is an urgency of potent minds. It is the philosopher's bent to understand the wind, the tide, and a compost heap. The more educated, responsible, and involved in human affairs the man, the more certain it is, that as he gets older, he will find a place to be close to nature and time to be there. Maturity increases eagerness to see things grow, cause them to flourish, to be on a first name basis with the birds, herbs, fish and flowers. Some psychologists say it expresses a wish for everlasting fertility and an instinct to be close to a reliable on-going process."
In the event that some may hesitate to accept this accolade, I should add that the author makes a clear distinction between the process of getting older and the fact of being old. Also, the author goes on to point out that those who are fortunate enough to live in close communion with nature have both the opportunity and the responsibility to safeguard the quality of our lives for ourselves and for our children, in a technological world that is threatening to engulf us.
Of one thing we may be sure, the seed exchange is an on-going process; we are doing our part. If only a fraction of the seeds we distribute mature and flourish, we may yet out strip the bulldozers.
We are distributing more seed, to more people, from more contributors in constantly increasing variety to many parts of the world.
There is an enormous amount of experimentation going on among those who are growing their plants from seed. Many are obviously searching for the individual plant that will exhibit greater tolerance for some cultural condition that is less than ideal. The huge populations being grown insure that the genetic potential of the species as well as the hybrid crosses will be fully explored. As these plants begin to mature and selections are made, it is reasonable to hope that we will have produced some superior plants adapted to a much wider range of cultural conditions than we have known before.
It would be interesting to the membership as a whole to learn something of the results obtained by the participants in the seed program. If those who feel that they have flowered a plant of exceptional quality would supply a slide (color) and pertinent information about the plant, the seed committee would attempt to assemble them into a program for chapter use.
There have been several reports that seed of the Malaysian species has not been viable. For this reason we have decided to attempt a different method of distribution for them. Those wishing to acquire this seed should send their request list to us as soon as it is convenient. We will then have the request on file at the time the seed comes in and it can be sent out without waiting for the general distribution. This will be difficult to do since it will probably come at the time that preparations for the main distribution are under way. We may find that we are unable to handle it in this way but it seems worth a try.
Of the great number of species that have been brought into cultivation. only a fraction have found their way into the average garden. While some are admittedly difficult to cultivate and others have little garden value, there are still a great many highly desirable plants for which there is no resource. It is the prime purpose of the seed exchange to make these rarities available. As always, our longest song is for more hand-pollinated seed from selected forms of the species, but we are also eager to have the open pollinated seed as well, especially kinds that we have not listed.
We have never had adequate supplies of the hand pollinated R. yakushimanum or its hybrid crosses. The hand-pollinated seed of 'Catalgla' and 'Powell Glass' have always been in good demand and very short supply.
Other species for which there has been a large demand and short supply are: R. quinquefolium, R. makinoi, R. pentaphyllum, R. chaetomallum, R. chryseum, R. souliei, R. mallotum, R. campylocarpum, R. haematodes, R. caloxanthum, R. pumilum, R. cumberlandense and R. weyrichii.
Seed may be sent in a rough cleaned form or in a capsule. If the capsules do not open, do not crush but send the capsules as they are. Be sure to wrap securely in paper which has been double folded to prevent the seed from shaking out. The seed may be collected as soon as the pedicel starts to turn brown. We appreciate having the seed as early as possible so that we can get it cleaned and packaged.