Minutes of Meeting of American Rhododendron Society, Portland, Oregon, February 15, 1951
Submitted by Mrs. Ruth M. Hansen, Secretary
The first Spring meeting was called to order by President, Mr. C. I. Sersanous, in the Auditorium of the Journal Building at 8:00 P.M. The reading of the minutes of the November meeting were dispensed with as they had been published in the January Bulletin.
Mr. Sersanous then read a list of new members in the Portland-Eugene area and those present were introduced to the membership. Mrs. Robert Bovee was then congratulated on the fine job she is doing in soliciting ads for the Bulletin.
The Secretary then read a letter which she had received from Mr. Elvin F. Conrad of Valley View, Pa. Mr. Conrad told of his early experiences in growing rhododendrons. The letter was accompanied by several colored pictures which were displayed for the membership to see. Mr. Sersanous expressed his wish that we could get more such letters from our Eastern membership.
The first reading of a proposed amendment to the By-laws was read which is as follows: "The A.R.S. will only give approval to Rhododendron Shows which are sponsored by affiliated Chapters or Non-Profit organizations."
Mr. Sersanous announced the 1951 Show Committee. Mr. S. W. Williams, Chairman; George Grace and Robert Bovee assistants. Mr. Williams then asked for cooperation of the members in making this Spring Show outstanding. He further added that after looking over immediate locations for holding the Show, he had come to the conclusion that the Information Center was the best place after all; so, the 1951 show will be held there. The Dates for the Show have been set for the 5th and 6th of May.
Report of the Test Garden Committee. In the absence of Mr. John Bacher, Mr. Ted Hansen acted in his place and made a plea for man power to help with planting on the coming Saturday. The Shelter is 95% done, but there is plenty of work to be done on the paths and plantings.
It was then announced that a large plant of R. sutchuenense had been recently moved onto the Island Test Garden, Crystal Lake Springs. This plant had been donated by the estate of the late Charles Vollum.
A new Membership Committee has been formed. Mrs. Jeannette Grossman will be the Chairman and Mrs. Robert Bovee will be assistant.
Dr. J. Harold Clarke was then asked to report on the Formation of Chapters. Dr. Clarke stated that he had been asked to put his ideas on paper, this he had done, but he felt it should first be acted upon by the Directors before presenting it to the membership. He then stated that the proposed A.R.S. ratings for Hybrids and Species as printed in the October and January Bulletins, respectively were only tentative, some will have to be changed as more information is gathered from the members at large. After the January Bulletin came out he received three very good letters from the East and South. Dr. Clarke urged all members to make notes of their rhododendrons and when the list is revised these notes will be most useful.
Dr. Clarke then told of his recent trip to New York at which time he conferred with Mr. Henry Skinner of the Morris Arboretum, Mr. Harold Epstein and others. He mentioned the need for ratings on azalea varieties, but at the moment it seems a colossal undertaking. Dr. Clarke ended his report by saying that he had received a request from Mr. David Leach of Brookville, Pa. for pollen from R. caloxanthum and R. apodectum. He inquired if any member in the audience had a blooming size plant of either species, if so to contact Mr. Leach. No one attending the meeting had these of a blooming size.
An auction of eight plants followed which netted the Society $43.00. These plants were donated by John Henny and Rocco Cappelli. A small plant of Gaultheri Hookeri made its debut as a companion plant for rhododendrons and sold for $5.00. The first R. 'Carmen' to be sold at auction went for $10.00. It was a fine bushy little plant and had two or three large buds on it.
The Guest Speaker for the evening was Dr. A. Roberts from Oregon State College Experimental Department who spoke on the subject, "Sawdust, its uses as a soil amendment for acid loving plants."
Dr. Roberts first told of the experiments conducted at the College with sawdust. After a six or seven year study in which the decomposition of sawdust has been carefully checked they feel that a report on their findings can now be made public. Nutritional disturbances brought on by minerals as the lack of Nitrogen causes a stunted, ragged growth; yet Nitrogen is very touchy to use on rhododendrons, Blue Berry plants and other shallow rooted plants. The organic form of Nitrogen; Cotton Seed Meal, Tankage, etc., releases this element very slowly to the plant.
Iron chlorosis in azaleas is caused from the inability of the plant to get enough nitrogen, or by a shortage of potassium and magnesium. Other causes may come from a heavy compact soil, poorly drained and over fertilized.
In using sawdust the depth of planting is the key to the whole thing. In the experiment plots they used sawdust both on the surface and dug deep into the ground 6 to 10 inches below the surface. It creates a long time humus build up in the soil. As the humus breaks down it releases nitrogen. Sawdust is high in lignin which is an organic substance high in cellulose and resists decay; thus it takes from five to six years to break it down. During this time Nitrogen must be added to the plants. How much Nitrogen should be added to sawdust? A light application two or three weeks during the growing season is better than a large amount at once. For a 10' by 10' plot it will take about 4 pounds of ammonium sulfate on the surface or about 2 pounds to 100 sq. ft. the first month. Possibly the best way to use sawdust is to use it with manure or peat moss.
Dr. Roberts then had slides shown of the experiment station plots showing their planting of blueberries in different types of sawdust, some in chopped redwood bark, some in chopped fir bark, some alder sawdust, etc. Other slides showed plots where the sawdust had been applied only to the surface of the ground, here the plants were weak and poorly grown, while a contrasting luxuriant growth was seen in those plants which were planted in plots where the sawdust had been tilled to a depth of 6 to 10 inches and left idle for two years before planting. The final slide was of an entire blueberry plant including a fine fibrous root system. This particular plant had been grown in the last mentioned plot and was an excellent example of what one can expect from his acid loving plants when planted in sawdust, providing he gives them the necessary care during the years the sawdust is decomposing.