Grays Harbor Chapter 1958 Rhododendron Show Report
The first Rhododendron Show to be held by Grays Harbor Chapter took place on May 3 in the National Bank of Commerce lobby in Aberdeen, Washington between the hours of 1 and 9 P.M. The show was non-competitive.
As the season seemed to be extremely early this year we set our show date correspondingly early only to have the weather change and become quite cold for about three weeks. Accordingly there was a dearth of new and fresh bloom coming until the last week before the show when sunny skies came our way again. Members had all offered to bring whatever they could but it wasn't until material began to pour in the night before that we knew we really had a Show.
After banking hours Friday night our work crew, headed by Ed Maxey, constructed some planting beds of 1" x 8" cedar boards, nicely weathered, donated by B. C. Miller Lumber Company. The walls at the back of the beds were protected from moisture with a waterproof building paper.
A bed about six feet wide and the length of the lobby, approximately sixty feet, and across the back, was enclosed; also a shorter strip about three feet wide on the opposite wall and a bed about four by sixteen feet in the center of the room. These beds were filled with dark well rotted sawdust. At each end of the center bed was a table filled with cut trusses. Facing the street door was a box containing a compact three foot plant of 'Mrs. G. W. Leak' exhibited by Clarence Burlingame, and covered with bloom. It was surrounded by maiden hair fern and was an eye-catching sight to visitors as they entered.
A hostess greeted visitors as they entered and invited them to sign the guest book, which was placed on a table to the right of the entrance. All who signed the book were eligible for the door prize, a nice plant of 'Mrs. G. W. Leak,' donated by Lehto Gardens, and placed on exhibit in the bank lobby several days before the show. On the day of the show it was placed on the sidewalk in front of the bank, where it attracted the attention of passers-by. Six hundred people signed the book, and it was estimated that at least another hundred must have passed through without signing.
The principal exhibitors and their outstanding exhibits, clockwise in the lobby, were: Raymond Mann Nurseries, with several large plants including a tall R. carolinianum about thirty years old, R. 'Faggetter's Favorite', and some of the Dutch hybrids; Elwood Shorey, with R. 'Ibex'; Jimmie Chalmers, with R. 'Van Ness Sensation' and azalea reticulatum ; W. J. LaVance Nursery with a good display of well-grown small plants faced with a border of R. impeditum ; Carl Kneipp, with 'Unique'; Marvin Hansen, with 'Jean Marie Montague'; Harry Harmon with 'Unique'. The Lehto Gardens' display covered the back area of the lobby and large plants of 'Bow Bells', 'Elspeth', and 'Dawn's Delight' showed off to advantage in a lovely setting with companion plants. On the right side of the lobby was a narrow strip which was made into a delightful woodland garden complete with moss, ferns, and driftwood, which set off a few of the smaller rhododendrons and azaleas. This contribution was made by Mrs. Einar Wold, Mrs. Ivar Conklin, and Mrs. Aino Harkonen. John Baila Nursery brought in a lovely R. 'Fragrantissimum' which came through the November 1955 freeze (the only one of fifty plants). At the end of this strip, and toward the entrance, were several unusually well-grown bushy bud-filled seedlings just coming into bloom which were donated to the Society by the Sharek Nursery of Raymond. These were auctioned off at the close of the show and netted the treasury $31.50. In the center bed Mrs. J. H. Haines displayed a variety of azaleas from lavender, graduated through white to pink and dominated by R. 'Irene Koster'.
A lottery prize for exhibitors only, consisting of a flat of one-year old seedling specie plants donated by C. R. Burlingame, was won by Elwood Shorey of Montesano.
Coffee and cookies were served at the rear of the bank to all guests during the show, and thanks must be rendered to Mrs. Harry Harmon and her helpers who were kept very busy at this popular table. An arrangement by Mrs. Harmon of Knaphill azaleas and maple leaves placed on the coffee table drew much comment and deserves special mention.
The National Bank of Commerce was most generous in footing the bill for most of the expenses in connection with the show. Cooperation of Society members was wonderful, and special credit should go to Edward Maxey, who handled many of the details; Jimmie Haines, who was a good man with the sawdust; Clarence Burlingame, who made the cedar stakes for labels and who was right on hand to help wherever needed; June Maxey who printed the labels; Bill LaVance, who spent the entire show hours expounding rhododendron culture to visitors; Mrs. Andrew Janzik, who was a most gracious hostess; Helen Pattison, and last but by no means least, the cleanup gang: The Maxeys, Harry Harmon, the Conklins, the Burlingames, Marvin Hansen, and in fact, just about everyone who had anything whatever to do with the affair.
The show was certainly a morale booster for Grays Harbor Chapter, and the nurseries report that they have never had such a good year. We like to think that we had a share in stimulating the greatly increased local interest in rhododendrons.