Long Island Hybridizers' Garden
Old Field, New York
Plans are moving forward for the creation of a Long Island Hybridizers' Garden at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, to showcase the best efforts of New York Chapter hybridizers residing on Long Island. The Garden is further intended to promote public awareness of and interest in rhododendrons and the American Rhododendron Society.
At the site of the new Long Island Hybridizers' Garden at Planting Fields Arboretum are: Dr. Leonard
ARS President; Al Fitzburgh, Committee member; Bruce Feller, Committee Chair, NY Chapter President, District 7
Director; Werner Brack, Committee member; Vincent Simeone, Director, Planting Fields; Herman (Bud) Gehnrich,
Committee member, Past President ARS; James Fry, Committee member, Immediate Past President NY Chapter;
Therese Wilson, Curator, Planting Fields Rhododendron Collection.
Photo by Cathy Bird
Appropriate areas, in the North Rhododendron Garden at Planting Fields, have been made available for this purpose. Soil preparation and initial planting commenced in the autumn of 2004, when the accompanying photograph was taken. Present on this occasion were Hybridizers' Garden Committee members and other supporters of this initiative. Interpretive signage for the Garden tells the story as noted below:
"The plants in this Garden represent the creative efforts of members of the American Rhododendron Society who live and garden on Long Island - past and present. It is intended to preserve and display the hybrid rhododendrons they have created and registered - a process that often spans decades as crosses are made, seedlings grown on, and maturing plants evaluated. The purpose of these efforts is the development of plants that extend the range of flower color, plant form and bloom time; improve cold and heat tolerance, disease and insect resistance; and enhance overall performance of rhododendrons in gardens in this area.
Some of these hybrids have been selected for commercial propagation and distribution based on their merits and suitability for the nursery trade. Others simply exist in limited numbers in the gardens of rhododendron enthusiasts here and elsewhere. The individuals who created the plants in this garden are identified on the plant labels along with the registered name of each hybrid.
Long Island's maritime climate is well suited to the successful use of rhododendrons in various landscape applications. To learn more about these magnificent plants and how to grow them, visit the American Rhododendron Society, New York Chapter website."
A review of Chapter records and the Society database identified about thirteen Long Island hybridizers who collectively account for about sixty-five registered varieties. Of course, some of these individuals are still hybridizing and evaluating recent creations so that the Garden is expected to expand.
Plants for the Garden have been acquired through donation by chapter members, various commercial sources and, where necessary, propagation of rooted cuttings. Other hybrids are being relocated to the Hybridizers' Garden from elsewhere on the grounds of Planting Fields. To date, examples of about thirty varieties have been obtained and efforts will now focus on the remaining hybrids. Except for those specimens installed in 2004, plants have been accumulated at a designated holding area at the Arboretum for a major planting initiative this autumn. Watch for word of the Garden's progress in future Journal articles as this exciting chapter project gains momentum.
Bruce Feller, president of the New York Chapter, is chairman of the Long Island Hybridizer's Garden Committee.