Fred C. Galle, Callaway Gardens, GA
As I See It - The Role of the ARS In The Next Decade
The 1980's offer many exciting challenges. One is a sense of rebirth and a sense of pride in our nation, in our communities and in our gardens. Hopefully, we can feel in this new spirit a sense of pride in our own American Rhododendron Society, as we enjoy the fellowship, the exchange of ideas and information. We can now look forward to growing many of the new hybrids being produced. We are fortunate that the Society has had a great number of dedicated individuals who have worked diligently to improve rhododendrons for our gardens and many others who have worked very hard in the development of the Society.
I would like to thank each of you for your interest in the Society and in your local chapters. A special kind of thanks to our officers and directors and to members of the many active committees of the Society and, especially, our thanks to the Massachusetts Chapter, their fine members and committees responsible for this excellent meeting.
Unfortunately time does not permit relating each of the programs of our several committees, but I would like to highlight a few. Our Seed Exchange made a 'jump' completely across the country and, under the leadership of Bill Tietjen, reported another good year of service to our members.
Going into print this year are two books, The Rhododendron Hybrids is the first one and has been in the planning and development stages for many years. Mrs. Meldon Kraxberger accepted the active role as compiler and with her committee's work, the book is in press at this time. The second book, Rhododendrons of China, is a translation into the English language. This joint project of the ARS and the Rhododendron Species Foundation will be off the press this fall.
Our Publications Committee, under co-leadership of Dr. Fred W. Coe and P. M. (Jock) Brydon, have plans for several publications in the future.
Don McClure and his committee on Shows and Judges have developed a schedule and guidelines, which was presented and reviewed by a panel at this meeting.
Our Editor of the Quarterly Bulletin, Ed Egan, has taken several new approaches in our fine publication to make it even better.
Ed Parker, our Registrar, spends a great deal of time and correspondence in the compiling and registration of new rhododendron and azalea cultivars.
The Rhododendron Research Foundation has given a grant of $ 1,000.00 to Dr. Robert Lambe of Virginia Polytechnic Institute to initiate research on Azalea petal blight.
One of the prime needs of the Society is to obtain new members. I hope in the future we will move to increase our membership. With increased membership, we can expand even more the privileges and services we now have. Each of us in our way can help to reach the goals of the Society by talking about rhododendrons and azaleas to our neighbors, showing them copies of The Bulletin and explaining the advantages and benefits we offer. We can do the same in our universities, in our schools of horticulture and in our public libraries. We need to increase our membership within commercial industries which are growing plants for our vast public. Our Membership Committee, Russell Haag and Mrs. Janet Binford, are working on some of the challenges before us and investigating the reasons for the drop-outs in membership. Hopefully, we can find ways to relate our common interests in rhododendrons.
The Society has been operating, since its inception, on the original bylaws. An Ad Hoc Committee on Bylaws, initiated by the Past President, Dr. Ed Brockenbrough, and under the leadership of Dr. Franklin West, has studied our bylaws for updating and for relating them to the Charter of the Society. This Committee is working to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the Society to meet the needs of the general membership. This work has been going on for three years and will soon be coming to a vote of the membership for approval. The Bylaws Committee has reviewed many of the bylaws of other plant societies and related organizations. Some of these ideas important for our own Society have been incorporated into our revised bylaws.
There are a number of members of our Society who have taken an active role and it would be difficult to single out each and every one, but there is one lady, Mrs. Esther Berry, who has been extremely active in the Society for a large part of her life. She has been active in the initiation and the activity of the Seed Exchange and has been, for a number of years, our very responsive and diligent Executive Secretary. She has asked to be replaced to have more time to spend on her own garden and her own plants. A special thanks, Esther, to you for your dedicated interest in the Society. Effective June 1, I am pleased to announce that Fran Egan (Mrs. Ed Egan), will be our new Executive Secretary.
Yes there are many challenges for the ARS. Our gardens play an important part in our lives and in our nation, as we see more activity in gardening. We must be ready to step forward to help the novice learn the excitement of growing plants, particularly our rhododendrons and azaleas, which are such an important part of our lives.
In closing, a statement by Edmound Burke, M. P., an eighteenth century English gentleman who had supported the colonists' cause in Parliament. "To make men love their country, they must make their country lovely", is appropriate today. Attractive, beautiful gardens are one important way to keep and make our own country lovely. Thus, as we share our love of plants and gardens, we increase the interest and appreciation of our communities and the nation.