The Dexter Estate - Its Gardens and Gardeners
by Eveleth C. Cowles
A Rosebay Publication
Philip A. Livingston and Dr. Franklin H. West
The Massachusetts Chapter deserves high praise for this first of its kind publication - a rhododendron book produced by a Chapter. With the talented editorial encouragement of Dr. Max L. Resnick, Eveleth Cowles has skillfully assembled in this informative 72 page paperback most of the presently available information about Charles Dexter and his master gardener, Tony Consolini.
This book represents a great deal of research work on the part of the author and the many rhododendron people she consulted. Detective work was needed because both Dexter and Consolini had the same failing - neither of them kept adequate records. Most informative are the descriptions of the species and hybrids at Shawme Farm between 1959 and 1967 when the Cowles were in residence at the Dexter Estate. A very helpful chapter on the visual deduction of rhododendron hybrid parentages is by itself well worth the modest price of the book. Best of all, Tony Consolini finally gets his overdue recognition as an important hybridizer in his own right. There is a real treasure house in the Consolini hybrids - enough to keep a committee of wise rhododendron lovers busy for years selecting, naming, and distributing them.
The book is true to its title - it keeps its focus on the men and their gardens, and leaves the descriptive lists of the plants and their names for future documentation. We hope this is the first of many useful chapter publications in this format.