From the President
H.C. "Bud" Gehnrich
Huntington, New York
The new website for the ARS will be up and running by the time you receive this copy of the Journal; the address is: <http://www.rhododendron.org> At the meeting in Allentown the Board agreed to fund the establishment of a website using a commercial firm since the maintenance by a volunteer appeared too time consuming to be practical. We came to an agreement with C-images, Inc., a firm operated by a member of the ARS, Chris Hoffman. The page has been moved to the new site, several new features have been added and it will be maintained and updated frequently.
I thank Stuart Celarier who set up the first site as a volunteer and who kept it going until forced by business and family responsibilities to give up the job. Thanks, Stuart, your efforts are much appreciated.
As more and more members get onto the web and use this new form of communication, the site will gain in importance. A number of chapters also have sites and these are accessible from the ARS site and visa versa.
Another important site for the ARS is the Rhododendron and Azalea News site set up and operated by Betty Spady with husband Herb acting as producer and technical helper. This site has news taken from chapter meeting notices and newsletters, reprints of Journal articles and a host of other items that will interest any member. Be sure to log in on this one. Thanks to Betty and Herb for doing this job as volunteers.
These sites will probably attract non-members and perhaps when they see all the things that are going on in the world of rhododendrons they too will take the plunge. We should be able to attract a new group of people to our ranks.
Speaking of membership, Dee Daneri, our very energetic Executive Director, is starting up a drive for new members. We have seen our membership slowly decline over the past few years, and unless this trend is reversed we will have a great deal of trouble maintaining the services such as the Journal, Seed Exchange and research that we presently take for granted. These all have certain fixed costs or require a number of volunteer workers, and our numbers must be large enough to support them.
While membership has traditionally been a function of the local chapters, it might be that we have to reach out more vigorously in an effort to attract new people. When you hear from Dee, respond and lets make a big effort this year to turn the membership curve upward. It will not only strengthen the ARS, but will also help each chapter and widen the circle of friends we all enjoy.
On another subject, I think that Letters to the Editor is an interesting feature in the Journal. It certainly brought out some good viewpoints on the name change topic. It will also give readers an opportunity to comment on articles that are carried in the Journal. I suppose that the editor will have to be careful to see that this feature does not consume an inordinate amount of space, but it will add a lively section to the Journal.
I have been working with five or six other volunteers on filling and mailing orders for the Seed Exchange, and it is apparent that we need much more species seed if we are to fill the demand.
Following is quoted from the January 1971 Bulletin of the ARS, written by the then chairwoman of the Seed Exchange, Esther Berry: "Looking forward to spring; all those who have access to good forms of the species, especially the rarer sorts, are urged to hand-pollinate a few trusses for next year's seed exchange. Several who have done some of this work for us, have expressed the view that cross pollination between two good forms of the same species is likely to be more productive than selfing. Last year our supply of hand pollinated species was much better than at any time previously but there were still many that were in short supply and we are still searching for a resource for some of the fine things that we have not yet been able to offer."
The demand for this seed and the problem of satisfying it remains the same 27 years later. There must be many members who could do some hand pollinating of desirable species and submit the resulting seed to the exchange. Seed from the Taliensia subsection, such as roxieanum, is popular as is that from the large-leaved species, rex, grande and macabeanum. On the other end of the scale, the dwarf species such as proteoides is in great demand, and of course seed collected in the wild from people on expeditions is eagerly sought after.
Your contribution of seed will not only help the Seed Exchange grow, but will also get these plants out into our members' gardens and increase everyone's enjoyment.