Book on East Coast Cultivars Planned
Philip A. Livingston, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
Before the Second World War the lovers of rhododendrons and azaleas in Eastern North America had few varieties to choose from. The plants that flourished in the Pacific Northwest and the gardens of England were totally unsuited to our climate.
We had "Ironclads" and 'Roseum Elegans' was in every nursery, but 'Scintillation', 'Cadis' and 'Ramapo' were unknown. We could have azaleas if we were happy with 'Hinodegiri', 'Snow' and 'Coral Bells', plus a few good deciduous varieties.
Today, to paraphrase an advertising slogan, "We've come a long way, baby". Hundreds of rhododendrons suitable to the climate - many of spectacular beauty - have been created and are slowly appearing in the nurseries. The azalea creations of Gable and Morrison opened a new world to specialist and suburban gardener alike.
How did this revolution come about? Who were the plant breeders? What are the varieties? With the naming of the Dexters substantially accomplished, a group of members of the A.R.S. in the Eastern States and Canada have undertaken a major publishing project, the writing and illustrating of a history of hardy cultivars suitable for use in Eastern North America, with biographies of several of the outstanding hybridizers.
The story of the Dexters, because of its timeliness and the large number of cultivars introduced, is the core of the volume. A great deal of the manuscript for this chapter has been completed by Heman Howard, Horticulturist of Heritage Plantation of Sandwich, Massachusetts, and Dr. John C. Wister of Swarthmore. A number of other Eastern hybridizers will be included, some with extensive biographical treatment; others by reference to their outstanding cultivars. Suitability for garden use in Eastern North America is the basis for the inclusion of a variety. Plans call for an attractive volume, generously illustrated in color and black-and-white, and it is hoped the book can be published before the end of next year.
Chairman of the committee planning the project is Dr. Franklin H. West, a member of the Philadelphia Chapter and Acting Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Hahnemann Hospital. Among the members of the committee (there is no formal group) are Dr. John C. Wister, former director of the John J. Tyler Arboretum, Lima, Pa., and of the Arthur Hoyt Scott Foundation, Swarthmore College; Heman Howard of Heritage Plantation; Alfred S. Martin, President of the A.R.S.; Lewis Bagoly of the Valley Forge Chapter; Fred Galle of Calloway Gardens; Paul Sleezer of Mountain Lakes, New Jersey; Philip A. Livingston, a book publisher and member of the Philadelphia Chapter, who will handle the technical details of designing and producing the volume.
The project received the blessing of the A.R.S. at the Pittsburgh meeting in May, and many outstanding experts in the Rhodie world have given advice and offered help in writing or illustrating.
Members of the American Rhododendron Society are invited to participate in the project. Color transparencies of outstanding varieties are being sought; any information about the work of Eastern hybridizers (Dexter, Gable, Nearing, Shammarello and Morrison in particular) will be appreciated. A questionnaire will be mailed to members of the A.R.S. residing east of the Mississippi, asking for their experiences with the cultivars created by these hybridists.