The Publications Advisory Committee
Although this committee is a rather large one other A.R.S. members will have ideas which may be very helpful. Dr. Phetteplace would like to hear about them. The letter to committee members is reproduced here to explain what is contemplated, and to invite participation. - Ed.
For a considerable time there has been some serious thinking and discussion among a number of our A.R.S. members, especially in the Pacific Northwest, about the possibilities of a greater role that might be developed in disseminating information among our members. In response to this idea our President Dunn has appointed a new committee consisting of a fairly large group, not only from this country but including a number of knowledgeable rhododendron people abroad, and has asked me to serve as chairman. This is to be known as "The Publications Advisory Committee."
Our president either has, or soon will, ask you to serve. Each of you is a person held in high esteem by members of the A.R.S. because of your interest, knowledge, work and background in the field of rhododendronology.
First, we have very much in mind since the A.R.S. is a relatively young and growing organization our membership has a high proportion of young members. They are generally enthusiastic, energetic and eager to learn not only about such mundane matters as culture, propagation, climatic tolerance, et cetera, which they can read about more commonly, but more especially they wish to know more about the rich background of rhododendron history; the people who have contributed so much; what they did and thought about this incredible genus of plants.
Ernest Wilson, Kingdon Ward, Joseph Rock, George Forrest and others have all written beautifully of their expeditions and findings. These writings are most interesting but all are out of print, so far as I know. E. H. M. Cox wrote of "Plant Hunting in China" in 1945, which was an excellent piece of work. Mr. Cox had explored in China himself and was well qualified to comment on most of the major expeditions up to that time. But this book was out of print almost at once. He has had a paperback edition reprinted in 1961, which possibly may still be available. This is presently being investigated.
We are getting more and more members who are interested in what might be termed the technical botanical aspects of the genus. A most valuable handbook or guide to these people would be Cowan's "Rhododendron Leaf," which also is long out of print and almost inaccessible in this part of the country.
One of the objects of this committee, therefore, is to promote and disseminate so far as we can, financially and otherwise, some of this rich bank of knowledge. Probably a great deal could be reprinted. It is conceivable if nothing of this sort is done that over the years to come much of this classic material will be lost or forever buried.
As a trial venture, therefore, the A.R.S. Board of Directors has authorized our committee and voted a modest fund to engage in the project of reviewing, editing and publishing in a paperback book form a considerable portion of the Field Notes and Letters of Ernest Wilson, which have heretofore never been published. If this is successful there are a number of other projects of a more or less similar nature to be considered. Your advice, guidance and assistance as a member of the Committee is hopefully requested. This type of activity, concerned with what might be termed the older classical rhododendron literature, is our primary responsibility.
As a second objective, we know that there is a great deal of work, and even exploring, currently being done by a number of people in different parts of the world which we are not getting brought to light adequately in our publications at the present time. We would like at best to be able to present to our members reviews, reprints, summaries or complete translations into English when written in another language of any such work. We do not know the extent of problems that might confront us in this sort of project, but we would like the help and advice of members of the Committee everywhere that would help to bring such items to our members. Much of this could be quite brief, and might hopefully be put in a section of the Quarterly Bulletin each issue. Study clubs might send in reports on the work they have accomplished on a single species, for example. Other material might be so sizeable as to require separate publication and involve amounts of money beyond our reach at this time. But at least if worthy it should be kept in mind as a goal.
A third objective that comes to mind is that hopefully each member might feel some responsibility in the way of continuously improving what publications we already have, in the way of constructive criticism, suggestions, articles or notes from your own experience and observations. Even photographs are always most welcome. Often a short paragraph that comes to your mind, as you are in a garden, about a particular plant, problem or success would be very interesting to our readers. Our members are eager for information, and items that to you who have been in the field so long may seem trivial, may be pearls of wisdom to many of us. This could be a regular section in our Bulletin, under "Rhododendron Notes."
As you plainly see, your chairman is in a great need of help if he is not to disappoint our president and the Board. At this stage perhaps we are just trying to creep. With your help some time before too long let us hope we may walk.
Thank you all so very much for going along with us. I will be especially grateful if you will let me hear from you any thoughts or suggestions you may have.
Carl H. Phetteplace, M.D.