The ARS Gold and Silver Medal Who's Who and Their Associated Hybrids, Part II
Clive L. Justice
Vancouver, British Columbia
In the Fall 2003 issue, Clive Justice began his discussion of ARS Gold and Silver medal winners. He continues the series with Part II.
Esther Berry (Mrs. Robert) of Aberdeen, Washington, was a founding member of the Grays Harbor Chapter and the third women to receive ARS Gold. I don't know when it changed, probably in the 1970s, but married women were always listed with their husband's name. As I had never met her husband, Robert, I knew her only as Esther, and I don't believe she was related to the previously mentioned Berry. Esther Berry was the first to undertake the ARS Seed Exchange. She was given her Gold Medal at the ARS Annual Convention held in Vancouver, B.C., in 1970 and as President Carl Phetteplace remarked during the award at the presentation: "The Seed Exchange initiated, implemented and executed by Esther Berry...is second only to the Bulletin in popularity.13 It has stirred interest in rhododendron breeding and propagation throughout the Society, awakening a dozing talent in old members, bringing in new ones and - mirabile dictu - makes money!"14 Someone out there has to have a twenty five-year or older North American hybrid that came into their garden from seed sent via Esther Berry's time as head of the ARS Seed Exchange.
The Vancouver Convention closing banquet was the occasion for the award of four Gold medals by President Phetteplace, two being to women, Esther Berry (GM-28) as noted and Evelyn Jack, a member of the Vancouver, B.C. Chapter. Under an arrangement with the University of British Columbia Grounds Department headed by Landscape Architect and Horticulture Professor John Neill, the Grounds Nursery facilities at UBC undertook the propagation of "scions" from the "best forms" of the rhododendron species growing in England to stock the ARS member initiated Rhododendron Species Foundation.15 Evelyn was given the task of propagating the cuttings sent from the British Isles.16 In all she was able to propagate over 300 selected forms of the species of rhododendrons that were unobtainable "across the line." This semi-secret "Operation Rhododendron Species," would have been a "mission impossible" without the propagating talents, expertise and dedication of Evelyn Jack. She brought to the Society, the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, UBC Botanical Garden (out of the five plants of each species she rooted, two went to the UBCBG) and North America's Pacific Northwest the very best of the English rhododendron species legacy. Evelyn "retired," married and she and her husband Nick Weesjes tend a fine woodland garden of rhododendrons that they have created at the end of the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. There is a dozen of fine crosses in which her name appears as either hybridized by, named by or registered by: Evelyn (Jack) Weesjes.17 The two I favour have a George Fraser - Ucluelet/Tofino peninsula connection. Rhododendron 'Bill Dale', after the biographer of George Fraser and his rhododendron hybrids18 and R. 'Clayoquot Warrior' that remembers the epic grassroots and largely successful struggle in the 1970s to save the old growth coastal forest on the islands and shoreline of Clayoquot Sound that separates the Tofino end of the peninsula from the main body of Vancouver Island.19
Ruth Hansen, a charter member of the ARS and a Portland resident, served as the first secretary-treasurer of the ARS for over two decades. She was the first contact in those early days for those wanting to form an ARS chapter. In 1955, I remember the reply from Mrs. Hansen to our enquiry about forming a chapter in Vancouver B.C. It went, if I remember, "Mail in ten members' names and addresses with $5.00 US per name (fortunately, the US and Canadian dollar was at par at that time), and forward all to Portland, hold an inaugural meeting, elect table officers and adopt the ARS Bylaws," all of which we did. Voila! Vancouver B.C. became the ninth ARS Chapter. Ruth Hansen was a landscape architect and did the original layout of the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Test Garden in Portland. Dr. Phetteplace created a primrose flowered hybrid with paler flower edges which was named 'Ruth Hansen' and registered in 1969. It is an 'Idealist'-'China' cross, that is clean and crisp, befitting Ruth Hansen who was prim and proper, neat and tidy and a very determined lady.
Footnotes (numbering continues from part I)
13 The small format 8vo (6" x 9") ARS Quarterly Bulletin extended to 35 volumes (4 issues per volume) before it evolved into the larger (8.5" x 11") magazine format in 1982 and became the Journal American Rhododendron Society, but with a continuation of the Bulletin's volumed structure of 4 issues by seasons and numbering so that the first issue of the Journal was vol. 36:1, Winter, 1982. Charles Darwin would have agreed.
14 Carl Phetteplace was a physician, hence the Latin phrase. ARS Journal Vol. 24, No. 2, page 136.
15 The foundation's garden is now called the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden located on the grounds of the Weyerhaeuser Corporation's headquarters just north of Tacoma, Wash.
16 The cuttings were sent to UBC, in Canada, because USDA regulations did not permit their entry into the United States without treatment which would ensure that 99 percent could not be rooted. However, rooted B&B and potted plants, certified phytophthera free, could be shipped from Canada into the United States under permit.
17 Jay Murray: personal communication. The thirteen Weesjes hybrids are: 'Adrie Schipper' (R. yakushimanum X 'Mrs Horace Fogg'); 'Bill Dale' (R. yakushimanum X R. strigillosum); 'Clayoquot Warrior' (R. strigillosum X 'Essex Scarlet'); 'Dave Dougan' (R. yakushimanum X [R. calophytum x Grisette Group]); 'Doctor Bonar Buffam' (R. arboreum ssp. delavayi X R. barbatum); 'Doctor Herman Vaartnou' (R. lacteum hybrid X R. macabeanum 'Lord Stair' form); 'Elze Weesjes' (R. yakushimanum X R. strigillosum); 'Gretha Rijksen' ('Kluis Sensation' X Fusilier Group); 'John Trelawny' (Jutland Group X Fusilier Group); 'Lies Weesjes' (R. yakushimanum X 'Belvedere'); 'Nellie Timmerman' ('Siouxon' X 'Mrs Horace Fogg'); 'Nick's Choice' ('Van Nes Sensation' X 'Mrs Horace Fogg'); 'Towner Crest' ('Van Nes Sensation' X 'Mrs Horace Fogg').
18 Bill Dale lives in Sidney on the Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver Island, and writes on George Fraser and his rhododendrons for the ARS Journal.
19 Dot and Ken Gibson's hilltop Tofino rhododendron garden looks out over Clayoquot Sound.
Apology: It was reported in Part I that there were only three Smiths who received Gold and Silver medals. In fact there were four. E. White Smith received a Silver Medal in 1990.