A Rhododendron Renewal On Long Island
The New York Chapter Presents The 1978 National Convention
Fred Knapp, Locust Valley, New York
Many of us have been exposed, often unconsciously, to Newtonian physics. Newton said that a body in motion would continue that motion, unwavering, unflagging, unless acted upon by external forces. So we would have it with our own personal interests and endeavors, and with our world of rhododendrons. But there are always some external forces, life's little frictions, which alter our direction and sap our speed. We are all in need of an occasional renewal of our interests. We intend to provide that renewal in the 1978 ARS Convention here on Long Island, to inject an added stimulus into the rhododendron world.
ARS affairs will all focus here next May 18-21. What better time for a rhododendron renewal? To invoke another august name, even Geoffrey Chaucer was moved to say "Hard is the heart which loveth nought in May" - and he was no plantsman. We cannot claim to have invented spring, but we are sure that all members will be ready then to renew their interest and dedication. Some of the finest rhododendron collections of the East will be ready to supply their magic for that purpose here on Long Island next May.
Headquarters for the Annual Meeting will be at the Holiday Inn in Hempstead, Long Island.
Major features of this convention are guided tours to the best - public and private - rhododendron gardens on Long Island, lively talks by world-famous speakers, a plant sale featuring several unreleased hybrid azaleas and rhododendrons, an outstanding cut truss show, and a hybridizers' round table. Many new ideas, perhaps a few new plants, and some new friendships should go home with every member who attends.
As part of our desire to extend fresh impetus to the general rhododendron world beyond the individual and his chapter, our Board has made a forward-looking decision about Convention finances. Although the necessary fees are being kept low ($15 registration) we do have hopes that with a large attendance and a good plant sale there will be some net proceeds available after the show. Any such "profit" will be forwarded, in equal shares, to the Species Foundation and the Research Fund. In a similar spirit, our former national ARS President, Dr. August Kehr, has agreed to distribute some of his new hybrids through our plant sale, with the entire proceeds to go to the Research Fund. Any member who acquires plants from our sale will be renewing his own interest and plant collection and at the same time will be making a donation to these vital ARS projects.
A major truss show is planned for Saturday afternoon, to which all are invited to bring their best for competitive display. A cold storage room will be available to early arrivals, so do not hesitate to bring material from whatever distance. We expect to see many choice items from afar, as well as some remarkable un-disseminated hybrids from the Phipps Estate, which we will tour on Friday.
Guides familiar with the gardens will be available at all tours. Friday's itinerary, in addition to Howard Phipps' immense collection of his own hybrids, will include the gardens of Dick Murcott and Sid Burns. Dick, organizer of our Breeders' Roundtable, will be available to discuss some of his creations now in their early years of bloom. The Burns garden has long been the outstanding private collection of named cultivars in our chapter, and will provide a glimpse of many lesser known gems of Hardgrove's and Vossburg's creation. Saturday morning's tour will be devoted to Planting Fields Arboretum, a truly remarkable collection of rhododendrons, of majestic trees, of woody shrubs of all descriptions, a place you will not want to leave. On Sunday, for those not desiring to participate in the Breeders' Roundtable, an all day tour is planned to Old Westbury Gardens and Sagamore Hill. Old Westbury, formerly the estate of another branch of the Phipps family, has extensive formal gardens with traditional use of rhododendrons. Its outstanding feature is the Italian Garden, a carefully structured walled enclosure of walks featuring a succession of bulbs, perennials and small trees and shrubs in perfect composition and breathtaking color. Sagamore Hill, once home of Teddy Roosevelt and his family, is steeped in the traditions and aura of his time. A reflection on the life it portrays should reinforce our own theme of renewal, of energy and purpose.
A varied list of speakers will kindle your interest. On our first evening, Thursday, Joann Knapp and Dick Murcott of our own chapter are planning something light and entertaining. They are unwilling to describe just what, but it should be fun. Friday morning will open with Dr. Gustav A. L. Mehlquist, one of the ARS' best informed and humorous speakers. Dick Murcott will follow with a lecture-demonstration on exactly how to make a cross, hoping to entice a few of the more shy and inexperienced members into this (perfectly permissible even before the so called moral revolution) new sex act. Dr. Richard Jaynes will then describe his latest work with color forms of Kalmia, which may yet displace many rhododendrons from our gardens. That evening, Warren Berg will describe some of his experiences on trips to lesser known areas of the East such as Korea and Taiwan. Perhaps some of us may be inspired to follow in his footsteps. On Saturday, between truss show and plant sale, Jack Hirsch of the Rhododendron Species Foundation will describe some of its plants and future horizons for us and Dr. George Good will describe some of the plant hardiness research work he and Dr. Peter Steponkus have been doing at Cornell. Saturday evening, of course, is reserved for the Presidential address.
The New York Chapter has always had a reputation as a "good doer", just as have its favorite plants and yours. The 1978 Convention is eagerly awaited here at "the friendly chapter", but what is really needed is all of the "good doers" from all the other chapters. Come to Long Island and help us all get renewed again next spring. Bring a friend, and make a friend while you are here. If you are a bit misanthropic, and have friends only among the flowers, come anyway - the flowers will be waiting, and wanting, to see you.