The ARS Gold and Silver Medal Who's Who and Their Associated Hybrids, Part III
Clive L. Justice
Vancouver, British Columbia
In the Fall 2003 issue, Clive Justice began his discussion of ARS Gold and Silver medal winners. Part II was published in the Winter 2004 issue. He continues the series with Part III.
In 1981 Velma and Charles Russell, (Russ) Haag of Brevard, North Carolina, jointly received a Silver Medal. Velma was the seventh woman and with Charles received the Society's first jointly awarded Silver Medal. It was the tenth Silver medal to be awarded by the Society. Charter members of the New Jersey Chapter, they founded the Union County Rhododendron Garden in Mountainside, New Jersey. When they moved (retired) to North Carolina, Velma and Russ joined the Southeastern Chapter. Their contributions to the North American Rhododendron world were as members of the Gable Study Group,20 the public rhododendron garden they created and the American hybrids they created. One of the writer's favorite of the Gables is 'County of York', which is the synonym for 'Catalode', named for the County in Pennsylvania where the Gable farm is located. A much preferred name in my opinion than 'Catalode' that bespeaks much more of its parentage and heritage of 'Loderi King George' (England) and R. catawbiense (as f. album) – America). Russ and Velma were prolific hybridizers describing twenty-three rhododendrons for the ARS Register and registering seven of them, viz., 'Blue Ridge', 'Carolina Moon', 'Cloud Nine', 'Golden Delicious', 'Good Fortune', Haag's Peppermint' and 'Whitewater North Carolina'. My choice is 'Cloud Nine' - no other colour but white with that name and I favour white flowers. But more importantly as a landscape plant it holds its leaves for three years.21
The Society's fifty-fifth Gold Medal was awarded to Mrs. Gertrude S. Wister of Swathmore, Pennsylvania, in 1982. Although I cannot prove it or find any references for it, the writer would speculate that behind every successful hybridizer and author there is always someone who researches, keeps track of them and undertakes the other housekeeping chores that are necessary to bring to birth new hybrids. Such is probably the case with the Society's fifty-fifth Gold Medal. However, it was given to honor her own hybridizing work as well as her support of her more published husband, Dr. John C. Wister (GM -8), in evaluating the Dexter hybrids sent to the Scott Arboretum and developing the Swathmore (Dexter F2) Hybrids, which are now at the Scott and Tyler arboretums; she was curator at the former arboretum. She served as assistant director of the Scott Horticultural Foundation at Swarthmore and at the Tyler Arboretum for several years.
Mrs. Wister prepared the descriptions and filed registration applications for many of those named plants that are registered.22 Salley and Greer list her in Appendix B: Rhododendron, Hybridizers, Raisers & Registrants,23 and list three hybrid rhodos with Gertrude; however, none have the family name Wister attached. I chose two of the Swathmore hybrids, but only for their names, 'Chatham' and 'Quiet Quality', the latter a great name, grand foliage, and the former for the name of the sistership to Capt. George Vancouver's ship Discovery. Wm. Robert Broughton was Master24 of Chatham when in these Pacific Northwest waters 1792-94. Both are Dexter unknown crosses and have purplish pink flowers: yellow spots for the 'Quiet Quality' and red spotting for 'Chatham'.25
Jay Murray notes 'Quiet Quality' is a Dexter hybrid that was grown originally at the Ross Estate in Brewster, New York, and introduced by a member of the New York Chapter. 'Chatham' is thought by many to be one of the plants Dexter purchased from the Farquhar Nursery, probably as breeding stock. Its origin predates 1921. Both plants were named by John Wister.
Footnotes (numbering continues from Part II).
20 The Gable Study Group was set up in 1973 to research, document and catalog the rhododendron hybrids created by Joseph B. Gable of Stewartstown, Penn. (Hybrids and Hybridizers. Rhododendrons and Azaleas for Eastern North America, Livingston and West, Editors, 1978, Harrowood Books, Newton Square, Penn).
21 Salley and Greer, in Rhododendron Hybrids (by Homer Salley and Harold Greer, Rhododendron Hybrids, 2nd Ed., 1992, Timber Press, Portland, Ore.)
22 Jay Murray, personal communication: The Dexter and Dexter F2 hybrids raised at Swarthmore, registered mainly by the Tyler Arboretum and Scott Arboretum, many named by John Wister and described by Gertrude Wister, number fifty-seven and are 'Acclaim', 'Accomac', 'Accomplishment', 'Alice in Wonderland', 'Aronimink', 'Avondale', 'Barnstable', 'Bass River', 'Ben Moseley', 'Bright Prospect', 'Bryantville', 'Chatham', 'Clearbrook', 'Delicate Splendor', 'Dexter's Agatha', 'Dexter's Harlequin', 'Doctor John' (named for John Wister), 'Early Accent', 'Edgemont', 'Enigma', 'Festive Feast', 'Flaming Snow', 'Glenda Farrell', 'Halesite', 'Hunting Hill', 'Judy Spillane', 'Kelley', 'Lady of Belfield', 'Lady of June', 'Madison Hill', 'Maralyn Gillespie', 'Margaret Fell', 'May Moonlight', 'Moonlight Bay', 'Newburyport Belle', 'Peach Brandy', 'Quiet Quality', 'Sagamore', 'Bayside', 'Sagamore Bridge', 'Skerryvore Monarch', 'Snow Shimmer', 'Sparkling Jewel', 'Sunlit Snow', 'Tinicum ', 'Toastmaster', 'Todmorden', 'Tom Everett', 'Wareham', 'Westbury', 'Westdale', 'Whittenton', 'Wianno', 'Willard', 'Winneconnet', and 'Winning Ways'.
23 op. cit. note 21.
24 No connection as far as can be determined with the azaleodendron 'Broughthonii Aureum'. Although it was made around 1830 it did not receive an RHS FCC until over 100 years later in 1935.
25 op. cit. note 21.