The American Rhododendron Society Annual Meeting Report
Pine Mountain, Georgia, April 22, 1969
Dr. J. Harold Clarke
Fig. 38. A scene along the Wildflower Trail at Callaway
Gardens, Pine Mountain, Ga. showing the Piedmont
Azalea (R. canescens) with Rain Lilies in the foreground.
Callaway Gardens photo
Blue skies, sunshine and southern hospitality combined to make the Annual Meeting of the American Rhododendron Society at Callaway Gardens in Georgia a very memorable occasion. There were some two hundred and fifty people registered, representing twenty-two of the twenty-nine Chapters. This is probably the largest group and widest representation of an Annual Meeting of the Society.
The facilities at Callaway Gardens in their Holiday Motel were excellent and things moved along with a minimum of delay. Even the early morning, before breakfast, hikes were exceptionally well attended. As a matter of fact most of the hikers had breakfast before going out but the hour was a "before breakfast" hour.
The native azaleas were very well displayed throughout the large Callaway Gardens acreage. Not all were in bloom, of course, as there is a great range in blooming time, something which those unfamiliar with our native azaleas probably did not anticipate. Some species were past bloom, others at their prime, and others would not bloom until late summer or fall. Some of the azaleas are original stand but many others are being planted in strategic places where they will be at their best, and often reflected in one of the many lakes on the property.
A non-competitive exhibit was staged in the convention center lobby at the Holiday Motel at Callaway Gardens. This was not extensive but generated a lot of attention and interest. A collection of species was brought from the Pacific Northwest by Mrs. Hugh Baird of the Seattle Chapter. Another item of interest was three trusses of an unknown variety, shown by Dr. Yelton of Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Efforts at getting these trusses identified failed but all agreed that they were probably of an unnamed Dexter variety of unusually attractive appearance.
At the Annual Meeting of the Society on Tuesday evening, April 22, Mr. Edward Dunn, President of the Society, presided. The Secretary-Treasurer's Report and other official information will appear elsewhere in this issue. Dr. J. Harold Clarke, Past President of the A. R. S. and Editor for the last five years, was awarded the Gold Medal of the Society.
As usual, at a meeting of this kind, the talks were mostly given with slides and a beautiful collection they were. It is difficult to report such talks except to list the slides and one or two of the speaker's comments. However this year the speakers were most cooperative and furnished the Editor with a written set of notes. In some cases these are simply the comments made in connection with the slides, and in other cases they have been written, more or less in narrative form. These papers and notes are presented with a minimum of editing. The remarks would be much more meaningful, of course, if the slides could be presented with them, but in general they will give a remarkably good picture of what was said and the wide variety of materials relating to rhododendrons, azaleas and companion plants which was presented.
On Wednesday, after some two and a half days of meetings and tours, two bus loads visited some fine gardens in Atlanta. The first stop was at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fred R. Hamilton where there was a very nice collection of hybrid rhododendrons which appeared to be just as happy and satisfied as if they had been growing in the most favored part of the Pacific Northwest. Mr. Hamilton is a member of the A. R. S. and his azaleas and rhododendrons showed evidence of expert care.
The second garden visited was that of Mr. and Mrs. Goodloe H. Yancey where there was a good collection of large azaleas, including several different groups, plus hybrid rhododendrons. The third garden visited was that of Mr. and Mrs. John Weisner which included a well planted hillside garden, including many kinds of ornamental plants in addition to many types of azaleas.
The fourth and last stop was at the Swan House, the recently acquired home of the Atlantic Historical Society. The visiting group was taken through the mansion which is not very old but which contains many very fine examples of continental craftsmanship in the architecture, the carvings, the staircase and an excellent assortment of old and extremely beautiful furniture selected for the home by the former owners.
Although the group was extremely interested in the priceless antiques seen inside, they were no less interested in the statement by Mr. Franklin, President of the Azalea Chapter of the A. R. S., that the Chapter is planning an azalea and rhododendron display and test garden in the beautiful wooded area, some eighteen acres in extent, which surrounds the house. There is great enthusiasm among garden clubs of the area for making the whole Swan House property an out-standing landmark of beauty for the Atlanta area.
As noted in the announcement of the meeting, this convention was the result of the combined efforts of the Middle Atlantic, Azalea and Southern Chapters. Since these three Chapters cover an area from Texas across to Florida and north to Washington, D.C., it was impossible to have the many functioning committees usually associated with a meeting of this type. Most of the detailed work fell on the shoulders of Mr. Fred Galle, Horticulturist at Callaway Gardens. He did a very fine job, much appreciated by all. He was ably assisted by the Presidents of the three Chapter mentioned, Mr. Daniel B. Franklin of the Azalea Chapter, Mr. Robert E. Lee of the Middle Atlantic Chapter and Mr. Arthur I. Coyle of the Southern Chapter. Dr. Thomas Wheeldon, Past President of the Middle Atlantic Chapter, was also active in the organization of the meeting, and moderated one of the panels.
The Annual Meeting to be held in 1970 will be in Vancouver, B. C., under the auspices of the active Chapter there. Attending the Annual Meetings is becoming a more and more popular activity of a number of interested rhododendron fans. Many from the East and South were heard expressing an interest in next year's meeting, and in planning a trip which would enable them to see rhododendrons throughout the Northwest in addition to attending the meeting itself.