New York Chapter Garden Tours
For three successive weekends (the last two in May and the first one in June) the New York Chapter concentrated on rhododendrons and azaleas with a singularity of mind probably never before evidenced with the exception of its hosting of the national meeting in 1965. The weekend following our first two day flower show at Walt Whitman Shopping Center in Huntington, L. I.; over 65 persons gathered under a cloudless sky to tour the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Phipps in Westbury, N.Y.
Those of you who attended the national meeting in 1965 will remember seeing the results of Mr. Phipps' hybridizing as one of the highlights of those garden tours. This year our tour, conducted by Mr. Ewen McKinnon, remembered especially a huge plant of 'Mrs. Furnival' X R. fortunei just coming into bloom and three choice plants of 'Mars' X 'Vulcan', one of which was absolutely magnificent. Mr. Phipps consistently wins many blue ribbons for his trusses at our annual flower shows and it was truly a rewarding experience to see these plants blooming where they are grown.
Mr. and Mrs. Hugo Schlaikjer had generously offered to let us see their large Dexter collection in Halesite, however, since the Dexters bloom relatively early, the majority of them were past their peak by May 25th, the date of our first tour.
Our past president, Sidney Burns, and his wife, Clara, were not going to be home this particular weekend as he was judging at the Princeton Chapter's flower show, but they opened their patio and garden to us for a delightful place to eat our lunches and for a fascinating trip through their garden. Mrs. Schlaikjer was our hostess and Richard Murcott conducted tours through the garden. Some of the plants that were of particular interest to our members were a group of R. smirnowii seedlings with heavy brownish indumentum, a charming Knap Hill azaleas, 'Gwyneth', 'Cumbarb', an American species azalea cross, and some plants of the Candelabra group with unusually large calyxes.
The following Saturday, June 1st, again a beautiful cloudless day, over 40 persons from New Jersey, Connecticut and New York met at Skerryvore, the estate of Mr. Edwin Beinecke in Greenwich, Conn. for a second day of garden touring. We drove in a procession, led by Mr. John Tainter, along narrow roadways, all bordered by Hosta, which wound between hillsides enhanced by natural rock formations and planted with a magnificent variety of rhododendrons and azaleas. The more heavily shaded areas, already beautiful, are being made even more so by the planting of ferns and primulas. After we parked our cars near the orchard where we were later to eat our lunches, we broke up into many small groups each to revisit on foot the areas which intrigued us most. At times the clicking of camera shutters almost drowned out the noise of the bees.
After we finished eating and comparing notes, we set out for the home of Mr. Jerry Lukins in Port Chester. Mr. Lukins' five acre garden, manicured to perfection and set along the scenic Hutchinson River, was a collection of treasures that a small part of one day could never do justice. His large rock garden contained not only a superb collection of dwarf conifers and sun loving plants but also many interesting and unusual rock garden plants. Shadier areas were planted with Hostas, ferns and a variety of wild flowers, especially some pink lady slippers that had come into bloom especially for us that day.
Since, our time was limited, we left with regret and drove a little further south to the home of Mr. Harold Epstein in Larchmont, N.Y. Mr. Epstein, a past president of our New York Chapter, has been collecting rare and unusual plants for many years and every nook and cranny of his garden was a plant-lover's delight. Bright red Kalmia, Enkianthus cernuus rubens, a collection of yak seedlings, and a number of unusual varieties of Polygonatum would be naming only a few of the treasures in his garden. He also showed us into his greenhouse where he houses his extensive orchid collection. By this time it was late afternoon and we headed for home to recuperate somewhat, cut trusses, and just generally prepare for our final flower show of the season the following day.
For those of our hosts, hostesses and tour members who read every quarterly with relish, please let me thank each and every one once more for making my initial endeavor as garden tour chairman such a smashing success.