From the Executive Director
FACT! All milk comes from square plastic containers found in supermarkets. All rhododendrons come from round plastic containers found in garden centers (or supermarkets). Millions of young eager-to-please rhododendrons will find their way to new homes from now through the spring. Many well-meaning care providers have never seen a cow or ever heard of the plant hunters, hybridizers, or botanical gardens. They will never know The Rhododendron Story (see book selections), and they will never understand how that priceless treasure trove of floral splendor came to be corralled at the garden center. They will never hear about the American Rhododendron Society.
Dedicated members of the Society are constantly seeking new roads to help the neophyte find out about our existence. We offer public plant sales, workshops, distribute brochures, and advertise meetings in local papers. For generations these have been the accepted and often only tools available to seek new members. Unfortunately all of these tools are geographically specific and limited to the energies of available volunteers. Wouldn't it be wonderful if every plant label that marched out of a garden center or supermarket had one tiny line which said www.rhododendron.org? Until that happens, it must be left to the new generation of gardeners (who also use the internet for resource information) to stumble upon the site through their own innovative means. Of over 50 applications for membership received via our web site during its short time in existence, nearly 30 have actually joined. They are all enthusiastic and anxious to learn more about the Society. Once a welcome packet is sent from the Office ARS, chapters are notified, and the rest is up to the officers and members of your chapter, which represent the new member's immediate rhododendron family.
One Sunday afternoon I was tidying up some e-mail when a little message flashed on the screen. A web surfer said he was "blown away" by what he had just found. Was it actually possible that there was an organization which could act as a support group for people who loved rhododendrons? Could just anyone join? You mean you can just walk into a meeting and be welcomed? How long had this been going on? This young gentleman who is always seeking quality activities for his family had never heard about the Society, but had grown up in a family devoted to rhododendrons. Our web friend not only sent an application over the net, but a check arrived two days later, asking that I also give a gift membership to his father and e-mail on Dad's birthday to tell him about the gift. OARS not only sent the e-mail (Dad's e-mail address had rhodo-geek written all over it), but also our customary rhododendron greeting card, which is sent to all gift members.
Our new members have now been assigned to or have chosen chapters close to them, and will be expecting great things when they attend their first chapter meetings this fall. Will you be there looking for new faces? Will our web friend one day be president of your chapter? Will Dad lead an expedition to Nepal? Will the web be the link to the next generation who will carry on the important work of the American Rhododendron Society? Thanks, Mark and Rhodoman!
It's worth remembering that the internet reaches the entire planet. The last ten non-US members to join the Society joined via the web. The significance of our beautiful Journal of the American Rhododendron Society should not be underestimated, as it is the only publication on the planet which exclusively represents the genus Rhododendron, including rhododendrons and azaleas, although we do often entertain other ericaceous plants as well as companion plants. The work you do as a member of the Society is not to be underestimated. Together the members of our Society add to the quality of Society.
As always, it's a pleasure working for you!
Office of the American Rhododendron Society "OARS - Rowing for You!"