Hawaii Chapter to Host Western Regional
Conference in 2004
R. A. "Mitch" Mitchell, Jr.
Officially, the Hawaii state flower is the hibiscus, but some say it really should be the orchid.
This is particularly true on the island of Hawaii, which is either called the Big Island or the
Orchid Island. But a growing minority feels so enthusiastically about the vireya rhododendron
that this group is convinced it should be called the Vireya Island.
This was made more evident in February 2003 when the Hawaii Chapter hosted a seminar titled "Vireya From Around the World." Speakers were George Argent of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; Chris Fairweather, a nursery owner in Beaulieu, England; Martin Monthofer, a vireya grower in Bremen, Germany; Keith Adams, a vireya plant hunter from New Plymouth, New Zealand; and E. White and Lucie Smith of Bovees Nursery, Portland, Oregon. E. White presented a paper prepared by Richard Currie, a vireya hybridizer in Auckland, New Zealand. There were nearly 100 registrants.
Of course our chapter members learned a lot not only from the expert speakers and their beautiful slides, but also from each other. A real plus was using this experience as a "dry run" to prepare for next year when the Hawaii Chapter hosts the Western Regional Conference and Board Meeting, Sept. 22 to 26, 2004. For example, it is rumored that several members are getting their surfboards out of storage just in case surfing is on your agenda.
Others are reviewing guidebooks so they will be able to show you some of the most beautiful sites in the world including a really active volcano that we can drive to. Or if you just want to concentrate on visiting gardens to see vireya rhododendrons growing outside and in the ground we are planning on showing you some from sea level up to 4,000 feet on the volcanic mountain of Mauna Loa.
Also in the planning stage are some very interesting speakers and a rhododendron plant sale that we think you will find a bit unusual. For more information contact Hawaii Chapter President Sherla Bertelmann.