Four Days in April in Atlanta: The 1984 ARS Annual Meeting
Avis Aronovitz, Atlanta, GA
Azalea Chapter members are completing final plans for the 1984 ARS convention scheduled for Atlanta April 26-29. From the moment that Delta flight arrives at Hartsfield International and the ARS convention-goer boards the Northside Airport Express bus and travels the expressway maze that rims the city's glass and concrete skyscrapers, past the gold-domed Capitol, and out to the wooded suburbs where the Marriott Hotel-Perimeter Center is situated, traditional southern hospitality will be apparent. Please check enclosure on special rates Delta Airlines is offering ARS members. The hotel is conveniently located three minutes away from a large enclosed shopping mall and a group of specialty boutiques is also close at hand. Several recommended restaurants are in the immediate vicinity, though this Marriott's food has an excellent reputation with Atlanta's "in crowd".
This is an annual meeting that ARS members all over the country had great input in planning. In the responses to the questionnaires distributed to attendees at the 1983 convention, you told us exactly what you wanted here in Atlanta and what you didn't want...and we listened and planned accordingly. The message was loud and clear — you want to see our rhododendron. That is exactly what we intend, and hope that the rhododendron and nature are equally cooperative. However, in some cases, we will have to settle for the smaller flowered, but equally beautiful branch of the family, the azalea. Activities are also planned for the less dedicated hobbyist, too.
Experiencing "Springtime in Georgia" will be an outstanding encounter that you will want to hold in your memory bank forever. Azalea Chapter looks forward to showing you the beauty and best of Atlanta in April, 1984.
|Transplant Nursery — George Beasley (Sunday Tour)|
Program Highlights: Southern Specialties
For those arriving early to participate in the pre-convention trip to Callaway Gardens, registration packets may be secured starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the Marriott lobby. Then proceed immediately to the nearby garden of container rhododendron and azaleas...in the midst of these will be found the Marriott's luxurious indoor-outdoor pool which will be the setting for a "Welcome South-Mint Julep" party. Don't forget your swim suit. Scheduled for 6:30 p.m., the event is sponsored by the North American Soil Division of the Taulman Company of Atlanta which is presently involved in a pilot project in Portland to explore the use of composted sewage sludge as a growing medium for rhododendron. More about this from Oregon State University's Robert Ticknor during the Atlanta seminars.
On return from the Callaway Gardens Thursday tour, the Plant and Art/Crafts sale will be open with Azalea Chapter members present to help you make your choices. The craft sale will feature some pure southern innovations such as our candy specialties, divinity and brittle, prepared in the kitchens of our talented women. Several members who have outstanding reputations in the art world have agreed to have their work available for sale. For the past several years hundreds of cuttings have been made from plants of trophy winning blooms of southeastern native azalea species and hybrids and these have been grown on expertly for our plant sale to be made available to grace ARS members' gardens across our continent. A "midnight sale" featuring exceptional savings is set immediately upon the return of members from Friday evening at Stone Mountain.
The Thursday evening opening dinner at the Marriott at 7:30 p.m. will be preceded by a half hour social in the hotel's Paddock Lounge where complimentary hors d'oeuvres have been arranged. Keeping in mind that conventioneers will be bleary-eyed from the day-long Callaway Gardens trip or victims of jetlag from long cross country flights, the committee selected Dr. J.C. Raulston, professor of Horticulture at North Carolina State University, to present the Thursday evening program. His multi-media extravaganza “Creating Favorable Habitats For Special Plants”, designed to entertain as well as inform in a unique fashion, will unquestionably keep any audience awake.
Azalea Chapter will have its usual annual flower show Friday and Saturday and all ARS members are invited to enter flowers. However, we must have your blooms before the buses depart for the Gene Cline Garden Tour at 8:30 a.m. Friday morning, if you are participating in that trip. On return from the Cline garden, the 1 p.m. luncheon at the Marriott will include a "plant swap". Please bring a travel-size plant of your choice that will be exchanged in a raffle for another's.
The Friday afternoon and Saturday morning seminars reflect the requests of a wide range of members. Azalea Chapter is attempting to search out the expert in each area of interest to bring you the current thinking on each subject. Friday afternoon begins with “More on the Western Azalea” from Dr. Frank Mossman. This is of interest to East Coast residents as well since this azalea is found in the background of so many hybrids. Then a panel of experts will discuss the southeastern azaleas — Fred Galle, Henry Skinner, and George Beasley, along with others. No winner will be announced! Dr. August Kehr will introduce the newest addition to his famous family of evergreen azaleas. George Beasley has been growing it on in reasonable quantity and it will be available for sale. All profits will be ear-marked for the Rhododendron Research Foundation. Those who have seen this flower say it outshines the others in its class. Al O'Rear will introduce a new native azalea stumbled upon within the city limits of Atlanta. Meetings will resume at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with Don Kellum discussing “Species Good in the Southeast”, Bill Tietjen elaborating on the "Seed Exchange" and a speaker with dual membership in both the rhododendron and bonsai societies will lecture on “Expertise With Azalea Bonsai”, another southern specialty. There will also be information on the “Pollen Exchange”. The Rhododendron Species Foundation plans an educational display during the length of the Annual Meeting to enlighten East Coast ARS members on their often poorly understood activities and purpose. Somewhere within the informational meetings authorities will answer and discuss these baffling subjects, "Are We Spraying Insecticides That Are Killing Ourselves As Well As The Damaging Pests?" (University of Georgia's Jake Tinga will tackle that one.) "Is Cloning Of Award Winning Rhododendron Already A Reality?" Also, Dr. Don Jacobs will introduce an about to be published controversial "New Key for Identifying Native Azaleas from Winter Buds Alone". Concurrent with these seminars a Breeders' Roundtable will also be in session. This will be conducted in an informal manner and listeners are invited to enter into the conversation.
Investigations have also uncovered the fact that many ARS members are "closet adventurers". Although most would never venture to remote areas of the earth, climb through impassable rugged terrain, or sleep in hostile environments to secure a "lost rhododendron" or uncover one never seen in civilization previous to his discovery...they definitely enjoy watching and hearing about the great plant explorers who do this very thing. Azalea Chapter promises a "surprise guest" to fulfill this fantasy for our ARS visitors.
Finally the Awards Dinner at 8 p.m. Saturday, again at the Marriott Hotel, will feature their highly-rated delicious seafood buffet. Boris Bauer, the Southeastern Region's audio-visual expert will present during dinner a musical program with visual effects that will undoubtedly do for rhododendron what special effects in outer space films did for Science Fiction.
More Ways To Experience "Springtime In Georgia": ARS 1984 Tours
Again responding to your request to see our rhododendron and azaleas, the tours are designed to take you to the best Georgia has to offer. Along with an Azalea Chapter host on each bus, there will be a professional tour guide along on the excursions to Callaway, the local gardens and Stone Mountain to fill in on the history and lore of the area we travel. On the Friday and Sunday tours out of Atlanta, the guides who will tour those gardens with you will travel your bus and begin the garden orientation during the bus trip. Lewis Shorn, local plant expert, is also preparing an information sheet on local southern trees and plants you will see along the way or in local gardens, particularly those expected to be in bloom. This will be in your registration packet along with a map of each garden to be visited.
Early Thursday morning, buses depart for an all day pre-convention tour to Callaway Gardens. Those who indicate a desire on the registration form to visit the “Little White House” will stop on the way to see this bit of American History — its rustic furnishings just as FDR left it. Everyone will meet at the Garden Inn for a sumptuous buffet lunch featuring vegetables in season, fresh from the garden. All tour members will see the new greenhouse complex intended to popularize horticulture by putting Disney concepts into the displays. It is designed for a southern climate, making use of natural cooling with shade and solar radiation for heating. Beautiful flowers, however, are still the garden's trademark and ARS members will drive and walk the thirteen miles of scenic trails lined with more than 700 varieties of azaleas, rhododendron and other native plants. Tours in the Gardens will be led by knowledgeable guides hand-picked by Fred Galle.
On the road again early Friday morning, the group will journey to Gene and Margarita Cline's "Gardens de Pajarito Montana", twenty five acres representing the horticultural tastes of a high school Industrial Arts teacher turned respected horticulturist. Mr. Cline found that he could "go home again" and established this remarkable garden near Canton, GA less than a mile from the farmstead where he was born and raised. Housing extensive collections of rhododendron, azaleas, magnolia, mountain laurel, conifers and wildflowers, the garden is open free to the public. Recently, the garden and Mr. Cline were honored by the Garden Club of America, Inc. with its highest award for excellence.
|Mountain Laurel in Gene Cline Garden (Friday Tour)|
Leaving the hotel at 5:45 Friday evening to drive to Georgia's internationally known Stone Mountain Park to arrive there with light long enough to view its attractions, ARS members have an opportunity to learn much about Georgia's past and present in one location in a few hours' time. The optional tour is simply an answer for time to get together in an informal setting to have a pleasant evening with rarely seen friends, but earnest rhododendron growers may elect to remain at the hotel to explore thoroughly the flower show and the treasures at the plant sale. Others may choose to explore Atlanta after dark on their own. At Stone Mountain ARS members will visit Memorial Hall for a close-up look and brief narration on the world's largest sculpture carved on the face of the world's largest granite outcropping. Then you may choose to stroll with a professional guide through the completely restored Antebellum Plantation or if you are adventurous, ride the Swiss Skylift to the mountain top to view the surrounding area. Within the shadow of the giant monolith, a real old fashioned Southern barbeque dinner will be served while you enjoy Dixieland music and mountain cloggers. The evening concludes with a moonlight, romantic ride on an authentic paddle-wheel riverboat around the lake.
|Marshall Asher Yard (Saturday Tour)|
|Kay Crouch Garden (Saturday Tour)|
At 12:30 Saturday, the group embarks on an afternoon's expedition to Azalea Chapter members' private gardens. Atlanta's famous "flowerpot" lunch will be served en route through Atlanta's magnificent Northwest residential area...one of the most opulent, extensive landscaped neighborhoods of beautiful homes and gardens in the nation. The expedition will stopover at three off Peachtree Street gardens. Mary and Marshall Asher have a compact garden on a hillside in which can be found some well-established rhododendron and fine examples of various deciduous azaleas. The Ashers say that the density of these and the companion plants lend their garden an "intimate atmosphere". Georgia State University vice president, Kay Crouch, lives in a contemporary setting amidst a multi-level garden planted along a jagged escarpment. She has some real plant gems to be viewed carefully. Fred and Hazel Hamilton's city garden is located on two and one half acres of prime real estate and began with the purchase of the property in 1952. He inherited an outstanding speciosum collection that was already happily growing on the land. Mr. Hamilton remembers launching his additions to the development of the present garden with no-name rhododendron purchased from the Kelsey Nursery for six for five dollars. Now the garden boasts 693 deciduous azalea, evergreen azalea, and rhododendron. Every spring there is a traffic jam out on the road as cars pile up to allow passengers to peer over the wall to behold the splendor of this magnificent garden in bloom. Mr. Hamilton's yellow speciosum, which has no peer anywhere, has been grown-on to small plants available at the plant sale. Shirley and Wilson Harry's garden is located in historic Roswell, a suburb north of Atlanta. Here is where Sherman located a hospital during the Civil War and Teddy Roosevelt's mother was born and married...and the Harry's established their outstanding garden. The Harry's say their one acre, twenty year old garden is constantly changing because they have the courage to dig up plants that do not live up to their reputation or have not earned their owner's affection, and replace them with newer, better varieties. The owners of all these gardens are currently primping them to be in top form for viewing next April.
|R. 'Disca' & Wilson Harry (Saturday Tour)|
Sunday's post convention jaunt departs at 8:30 for visits to Willis Harden's gardens in Commerce, Georgia and the Beasley's Transplant Nursery in Lavonia, Georgia. Mr. Harden's garden "just grew", planted in steps over a twenty year period. First there were West Coast and American hybrids from the 60's planted around his sprawling Southern Victorian Farmhouse. Then the lake area was planted in tall growing species and British hybrids, heavy with plants originating at Exbury. The two gardens are still not formally connected. Bring your hiking shoes for it takes Mr. Harden one and half hours to travel his gardens and return to his home. He has fine examples of plant treasures, alpines, and magnolia. Mr. Harden likes to attempt plants people do not expect to see growing in a southern garden. Southern fried chicken will be on the menu at the Beasleys as you meander through the extensive collections of Dexters and lovely native azaleas and their hybrids, etc. It would be too cruel to ask you to look and not buy, so the nursery will be open for sales. You can personally make your choices, carry them home with you or have them sent to your home.
For the less enthusiastic rhodophile, optional tours are offered during the seminars. One is a tour to the Atlanta Historical Society complex to view the Swan House, a magnificent Italianate villa, by America's greatest contemporary classical architect, Atlantan Phillip Shutze. The priceless original furnishings are still in place. Also on the grounds is an authentic farmhouse restored to working order. A full day tour is also offered to antebellum Madison, GA, the town the Yankees didn't burn. If interested in these optional tours but would like more information, write Mr. Asher for more complete brochures before sending your registration form to him.
An after thought — don't worry about eating all that good southern cooking, the calories will be negated by the energy expended on the tours and the heartburn will be neutralized by the pleasure of experiencing, in all its glory, "Springtime in Georgia".