President's Remarks At Annual Meeting Of The A.R.S. 1969
In Callaway Gardens, Georgia
Edward B. Dunn
You have now heard the reports of the committees and the general business of the Society. I would like to make a short report. I am sure that all of us have had a very fine year in our gardens. We from the Pacific Northwest have been weeping and gnashing our teeth over the terrible January that separated so many of the boys from the men. I am sure, also, that other similar 'disaster areas' appeared this winter but that is gardening. While some of us learn that we can push mother nature only so far and that we must expect retaliating punishment from the old girl every few years, still we keep reaching for the cookie jar. That is known as enthusiasm and what fun would there be without it?
Enthusiasm is high in our Society. We are learning that some areas thought to be impossible for Rhododendrons are becoming adaptable. Experimentation and persistence are paying off and I feel certain that the use of some forms of the genus will become possible almost anywhere.
Our membership, of course, is not large. Although size is no criteria of quality, it does seem that we should be reaching more people and that we could accomplish much more for all if we had, say 10,000 dues paying members. The advantages are well set out in the long-range plan for the A.R.S., as presented by that committee chaired by Charles H. Anderson. A larger membership would enable us to obtain the following goals:
- Support a permanent office with a full-time executive secretary and full-time editor.
- Increase publication activity - Publish new literature in the field, translations of foreign works and republish valuable out-of-print material. Some of this work has already started under the Publications Advisory Committee.
- Increase our knowledge of the genus by sponsoring scientific experiments and studies.
- Promote and sponsor plant hunting expeditions. You have seen what Dr. Mossman and Brett Smith have done, we should encourage more of this both here and abroad. Melanesia has very exciting possibilities now and someday, somehow China and all of Asia will be open again. We should be leaders in the field of exploration.
- Sponsor scholarships in horticulture, perhaps on both the chapter and national levels.
- Establish a library of important and valuable books. Perhaps, this could be done on a lending basis to the chapters.
- Maintain a closer connection between chapters by financing visiting lectures by some of our experts.
These goals are possibilities and all would provide more service to the chapters and members. As I have said, we are making a start on publishing in addition to the Bulletin. Hopefully. this will be financially successful and encourage new memberships. I am convinced that, as we expand our endeavors and service, we will interest more people and elicit more support. However, the members are the real recruiters and if each of us will produce one interested new member each year we will soon be able to attain some of these ends.
These are all of direct benefit to our membership. However, it appears to me that there are several ways that we as members of a horticultural society, can be, and should be, of benefit to the public at large. I repeat myself but I think it is justified, when I say that we have a responsibility to try to preserve something of our environment, as the term is used these days. Despite what might be a change in attitude in Washington regarding beautification, many people have been aroused in the last few years to the proliferation of concrete, smog and pollution. Public thinking is now much more oriented toward improvement in our environment and it is my feeling that horticultural societies should be in the forefront in the battle for conservation-preservation. It is no longer a matter of our retreating to the suburbs. At our present rate of population growth, they won't be there much longer, if we do not reduce the speed of environmental destruction.
Aside from the usual means of the ballot and communication I would like to throw out a suggestion or two about how we might help slow down this landscape pollution. Perhaps, it is not the case in the Eastern part of our country, but on the Pacific Coast it is well nigh impossible to hire a good gardener or any sort of capable gardening help. Young men just do not expect to do that kind of work after they get out of high school. Certainly, a need exists for gardeners and we seem to have unemployed people. Gardening with modern equipment is not too arduous, most of us do it for pleasure. Why then is it hard to find good gardeners even at high pay? There must be some social stigma in the minds of many with regard to the spade and the hoe. This nonsense should be eliminated. How to do it? It is done in England and on the continent, I believe, through the botanic gardens and through trade school education. I feel that we should encourage the trade schools, the arboreta and even park departments to provide training for young people who are not going on to college. In this regard I feel that we can do a great deal by granting scholarships in gardening in trade schools.
Another field that needs cultivation by horticultural groups is that of encouraging and promoting quality in street tree planting and care, and to educate the public in care of their own material. Much money is being spent these days on highway and street improvement - landscaping work - only to have it spoiled in a short time by improper pruning and carelessness. Again, this does not apply as much on the Eastern part of the country as it does out West. But where any retired logger with a saw can call himself a tree surgeon, you will find many a tree horribly butchered by ignorance and avarice. Now that the mobile crane and high rigged power saw is coming so generally into use you may get the same damage on the Eastern slope. I feel that we should join other horticultural societies in attempting to educate the public and to legislate for proper laws and licensing powers covering tree and horticultural care.
I hope our enthusiasm for rhododendrons can carry over into concern for our environment, particularly in this horticultural field which is rather neglected in the public mind.
Now I have said my piece and I believe that I have thanked almost everyone for this most successful and delightful meeting here in Pine Mountain. This is my last Annual Meeting and I now wish to turn the gavel over to Dr. Carl Phetteplace who is your new president and who will take office as of July 1st. Before doing so I want to say that this has been a great experience for me. I have met so many wonderful people and have been given such great help in administrating the affairs of the Society by all your directors and many of the members. In particular, Mr. Alfred Martin has been a pillar of strength and I feel certain that we that we would not have the unified and harmonious Society that we have today if it were not for him. My thanks go to all committee chairman and members who have done so much fine work and I trust they will join me in rendering that same kind of cooperation to our new president to the end that our Society will grow in meaning and usefulness to us all.