Movement to Organize an A.R.S. Chapter in New Jersey
About fifty copies of the letter printed below were sent to unaffiliated members in the New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania area. Replies were received from practically every correspondent. A first meeting was held on April 20th; sixteen persons were present. About five more indicated a willingness to come but were unable to make it.
Of the sixteen, four were people who came in response to notices in the garden pages of the New York Times and the Newark Evening News. We were fortunate in having the facilities of the Garden Center of Montclair in which to meet. This is a very fine meeting place and centrally located in the North Jersey area. Incidentally, we have been offered the privilege of holding our future meetings at the Center.
At this first meeting it was decided to defer formal organization until the fall in view of the impending blooming season. It was also the consensus of opinion that the group would affiliate with the ARS as of the first of next year. An informal program was set up for the balance of the season, which was to consist of a number of trips to rhododendron gardens of interest within a reasonable distance. Following the business meeting Mr. G. G. Nearing gave an illustrated talk on "Hardy Rhododendrons for Northern New Jersey." The talk was very well presented and evoked a considerable discussion.
In the next several weeks several trips were made by a number of groups. One small group went to the Swarthmore Arboretum to see the collection of Dexter hybrids, which had been assembled by Dr. John Wister. Another trip was made to the garden of Mr. William Gotelli in South Orange. Mr. Gotelli has assembled a large collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, many of which are being given their first test for hardiness in this area. In addition to the several hundred rhododendrons and azaleas, Mr. Gotelli has a large collection of unusual conifers and hollies, as well as a collection of several hundred tree peonies. We were also privileged to visit the garden of Mrs. Alex Reid at Mountain Lakes. This too is a most unusual garden having several hundred feet of lake front as part of its scheme, but its outstanding feature is the hundred or so of the Ridgewood hybrids created by Mr. Nearing out of the cross (Griffithianum x Decorum) x Kettledrum. These are hardy hybrids capable of withstanding subzero temperatures, and so far as I have seen they rival some of the most famous hybrids described. A final trip was made to Mr. Nearing's nursery in Ramsey, where we saw Mr. Nearing's collection of plants and were explained the objectives and methods used in his breeding program.
Probably the most important lesson of the past season was that a well thought out program must be prepared well in advance of the meeting season. Therefore I am calling a meeting of such a committee for the purpose of arranging a program for the entire next season. This group will have met by Labor Day. It is now obvious to me that our efforts were perhaps a bit premature. In any case it looks as though we can count on at least twenty members.
In this work I have had the assistance of Mr. Nearing, Mr. Casadevall and Mr. Wagner, as well as the other two gentlemen who signed the enclosed letter.
Copy of the Appeal Sent to Members in the New Jersey Area
DEAR ARS MEMBER:
As a national organization, the American Rhododendron Society has been performing a most valuable and educational function in furthering the interest in rhododendrons and azaleas. To you, in particular, there is little reason to elaborate on this point in great detail.
In the northern New Jersey area there are many people who have developed their interest in rhododendrons and azaleas into a fascinating hobby. Many of us have discussed our problems and exchanged experiences and information in an informal way. We have been extremely fortunate in this area to have the cooperation and advice of that well-known rhododendron grower and outstanding personality, Mr. G. G. Nearing. It now seems a propitious time to start a local chapter of the ARS, which could bring together all persons interested in increasing their knowledge of these plants. The membership requirements for the formation of a local chapter namely, twelve petitioners-can be easily fulfilled, and as a matter of fact such a movement is now in progress.
It would be important, therefore, to know whether you, an unaffiliated member, would be interested in becoming associated with such a chapter. We are extending this request to members in the New York area, Westchester County, Rockland County and nearby Pennsylvania. In this way, we hope to have quite an impressive list of charter members under the banner of the ARS. Once the local chapter is formed, membership would be open to all individuals on the basis prescribed by the National Society.
Therefore, would you please communicate with the undersigned, indicating whether you wish to affiliate with a local New Jersey chapter. After a sufficient number of responses have been received, it is planned to call an organizational meeting in a strategically located area, so that all suggestions, ideas and opinions can be aired. Please favor us with an early reply so that we may plan for the first meeting at the end of March or early April and thus take advantage of the coming blooming season insofar as possible.
If any of your friends are interested in rhododendrons or azaleas but are not members of the Society, now is the time to enroll them. Membership applications may be obtained from B. Pecherer.
Pro Tern Committee
DR. F. A. SMITH
DR. J. FINKELSTEIN
MR. B. PECHERER