ARS 1976 Annual Meeting
Valley Forge, Pa. - May 20-23
John H. Topp, Honeybrook, Pennsylvania
Start making your plans now to attend the 1976 American Rhododendron Society International Convention. This, the thirty-second annual meeting sponsored by the ARS and hosted by the Philadelphia, Princeton and Valley Forge Chapters, will be held at the Valley Forge Sheraton Hotel in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania from May 20th through May 23rd, 1976. For those driving to the convention, the hotel is convenient to all the major highways in the area, Route 202, The Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Schuylkill Expressway (Route 76). Excellent parking is available. Hourly limousine service from center city Philadelphia and nearby International Airport is available for those using other means of transportation.
Recently opened, the hotel is one of the most beautiful in the Philadelphia area. Designed to attract conventions, its facilities range from large banquet halls to meeting rooms accommodating groups of any size. There are excellent restaurants, a night club, movie house, sports facilities and shops and services catering to the needs of a convention.
The old contrasts with the new at Valley Forge.
The history buffs among you will be interested in knowing that the hotel overlooks the scenic and historic Valley Forge Park. All during 1976, historical places of interest will be open and bi-centennial activities will be a constant attraction in Philadelphia and the surrounding four-county area.
Registration will begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 20th and continue throughout the convention to accommodate those unable to attend the entire session.
The President's Reception at 5 p.m. on Thursday will provide a gracious atmosphere for making new friends and renewing old acquaintances. Later that evening, Heman Howard of the Heritage Foundation, Sandwich, Massachusetts and Dr. Franklin West will co-chair the opening session with an illustrated talk about C. O. Dexter, the man and his rhododendrons. In addition, to prepare us for the upcoming field trips, slides will be shown of the gardens and arboretums scheduled to be visited during the convention.
Activities will start Friday, May 21st, with bus trips to the Tyler Arboretum and the private gardens of Dr. John Wister, and Joseph and Doris Bacale. The Tyler Arboretum is a tract of about 690 acres of woodland and fields, near Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The original grant was made by William Penn to Thomas Minshall in 1681. The land remained in the possession of his descendants, the Minshalls, Painters and Tylers for seven generations, until 1945 when it was bequeathed to trustees as an arboretum for the use of the public. Of particular interest will be a section of approximately ten acres devoted to rhododendrons and azaleas. Here is probably the largest collection of mature Dexters in the country. Hybrids from Gable, Nearing and Shammarello and other American breeders and the ironclads make an impressive display on the hilly terrain. Tender European hybrids and a large group of late blooming rhododendrons developed by the Scott Horticulture Foundation at nearby Swarthmore College are an unusual feature of the collection.
The Philadelphia and Valley Forge Chapters have established both a display area and test garden at the arboretum. Recent plantings include collections of two contemporary eastern breeders, the Robin Hill azaleas of Robert Gartrell and the Linwood azaleas (article in the October, 1975 Bulletin) of G. Albert Reid. New hybrids from all sections of the country, and many deemed too tender in this area, are being evaluated in the test garden.
A concentrated version of the Tyler Arboretum is embodied in the personal garden of Dr. John Wister. It is a gardener's garden blooming continuously from February to November. Here in a three-acre, naturalistic setting are gathered the Biltmore and Skinner collection of native azaleas, some of the best Dexter's hybridized and propagated at the Scott Horticulture Foundation and many Knap Hills and Exburys. Dr. Wister was the first Director of the Scott Horticulture Foundation and the Tyler Arboretum (1930-1969) and Mrs. Wister presently is a Director and Trustee of the Tyler Arboretum.
Joe Bacale, whose start in rhododendrons goes back only fifteen years, has achieved more than most of us can contemplate in a lifetime. An interest in rhododendrons and azaleas combined with an equal enthusiasm for dwarf conifers has resulted in one of the most extraordinary gardens in the Philadelphia area. Occupying a little over one acre in a sloping, terrace setting with high shade, the Barcales, through collecting and hybridizing, now have over 1,000 varieties. Making from ten to twenty carefully selected crosses a year, Joe has been successful in developing a group of low compact rhododendrons and good, clear yellows. A large planting of Exburys and Knap Hills; approximately 20 of Polly Hill's introductions, the North Tisbury azaleas; rare and unusual dwarf conifers and broad leaf evergreens; and choice specimens of 'Mardi Gras', 'Acclaim', Dexter's' 'Champagne" and Hardgrove's 'Golden Star' will make this a memorable visit.
At the conclusion of lunch at the Du Pont Country Club near Wilmington, Delaware, Fred Galle, Vice President and Director of Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia will give a presentation on eastern native azaleas. An undisputed expert in this area, Fred will talk about his twenty-five years of collecting and research with this group of plants.
Dinner that evening will be a buffet at the Valley Forge Sheraton and George Ring, a member of the Gable Study Group of the Potomac Valley Chapter, will discuss the results of a three-year research program on Joseph Gable. Valuable assistance from Caroline Gable and access to Joe's records and notebooks will make this an exciting and stimulating session about the work of one of America's foremost rhododendron breeders.
A tour of Swiss Pines Gardens in nearby Charlestown, followed by a walk through Charlie Herbert's garden in Valley Forge are only a prelude to the activities on Saturday, May 22nd. Swiss Pines is part of a private estate and maintained by the Bartschi Foundation. It was originally designed by David Engels in the early sixties. In 1967, Katsuo Saito, a third generation Japanese landscape architect and one of the world's foremost garden designers, supervised the expansion and development of new areas. Now, approximately thirteen acres in size, it is a garden of unusual beauty and serenity where one may stroll along winding paths, over arched bridges, through a moss garden and a stately bamboo grove, all the while viewing authentic stone lanterns, statues and unusual plant materials. In addition to the Japanese Garden, there are extensive collections of rhododendrons, evergreens and deciduous azaleas, heathers, heaths and herbs. A woodsy walk is of special interest to lovers of wild flowers and ferns.
Charlie Herbert, recipient of the bronze medal, past president and founder of the Valley Forge Chapter and one of the founders of the Philadelphia Chapter presents a garden that is a mecca for rhododendron and azalea enthusiasts on the East Coast. Two acres, on the side of a hill, with a high covering of oak and pine, provide a setting for innumerable species and hybrids of both rhododendrons and azaleas. Virtually every important group of plants developed during the past forty years is represented, as well as a notable collection of Charlie's own efforts. The opportunity to view 'Pickering', 'Valley Creek', 'Bob Herbert', 'Schuylkill', 'Pikeland' and 'Bonnie Brae' will be especially rewarding.
Box lunches on the buses going back to the hotel will permit events to continue at a fast pace in the afternoon. A plant sale will be held from 1 2 Noon to 1:15 p.m. Dick Murcott will lead a program on Hardgrove and Nearing hybridizing activities from 1 :30 to 2:40 p.m. At 3 p.m., the Princeton Chapter, with years of experience for guidance and six hours of frenzied preparation, will open the doors to the truss show.
Our setting, an indoor courtyard, completely glass enclosed, and flooded with natural light, has been gratuitously provided by the American Baptist Association in their building across the road from the hotel. For members traveling some distance to attend the convention and who will want to exhibit at the truss show the hotel will provide cold storage facilities to keep trusses in good shape. Over fifty classifications will be considered for awards.
Concurrent with the opening of the show, Betty Hager, with the aid of the Azalea Study Group from the New York Chapter, will introduce new evergreen azalea hybrids. At 4 p.m., the newly formed Native Azalea Study Group will have a panel discussion on hybridizing with native azaleas.
A cocktail hour is planned at 6:30 and the day's activities will close with the President's speech and Awards Dinner in the main ballroom of the hotel at 7:30.
The events on Sunday, the final day, will require participants to make a decision since they occur simultaneously. The increasingly popular Breeder's Round Table, under the very capable direction of Dick Murcott, will start at 8:30 a.m. in the morning and continue all day. The optional bus tour of three very beautiful private gardens in New Jersey will leave the hotel at 8 a.m. The gardens to be visited are those of Thomas Koenig, a national director of the ARS, Mrs. Carl Luenenschloss, and G. David Lewis, President of the Princeton Chapter. Gable, Nearing, Shammarello and Dexter hybrids are well represented among the rhododendrons and Glenn Dales and Gables predominate in the azalea collections.
Due to the bi-centennial activities, many organizations have scheduled their national conventions in the Philadelphia area during 1976. This has created a crunch on the availability of hotel rooms and transportation facilities. The convention committee has booked 250 rooms and has made a tentative commitment for buses for our garden tours. The hotel will not hold these rooms beyond May 1, 1976. More important, however, the bus company requires a positive decision on the number of vehicles required by April 1 5th. Because no private cars will be permitted on the garden tours due to parking problems, we urge those of you planning to attend the '76 convention to mail in your reservation as soon as possible. It will be impossible to guarantee rooms or bus transportation after the dates indicated.