Report on the Fourteenth Annual Congress of
the American Horticultural Council
By David G. Leach
At the request of President J. Harold Clarke I attended the fourteenth annual Congress of The American Horticultural Council in Rochester, New York, October 7-10 as the delegate of the American Rhododendron Society, which is a member of the Council.
The A. H. C. is the only organization which actually operates on a national scale in all branches of American horticulture and the delegates from all over the country represent most of the botanical gardens and arboretums, plant specialty societies and horticultural publications in the United States.
The first annual presentation of the gold Bartlett medal for achievement in the field of trees and woody shrubs was made at the annual banquet to Barney Slavin, former Superintendent of Parks in Rochester. This medal was designed by Edmond Amateis, the distinguished sculptor who is also a rhododendron hybridist and a member of the American Rhododendron Society.
On the occasion of the roll call of delegates at the Presidents' Dinner the evening of October 7th the announcement was made of the forthcoming International Rhododendron Conference to be held in Portland May 12-14, 1961. All members of the Council assembled in the ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel were invited to attend the Conference and the description of it aroused wide interest. Numerous delegates inquired further about it in the course of the next two days.
The most important business at the plenary session concerned the proposed merger of the American Horticultural Council and the American Horticultural Society of Washington, D.C. I voted affirmatively in behalf of the American Rhododendron Society. The motion to consolidate the two organizations was approved almost unanimously.
Fine papers were presented by authorities in the fields of plant physiology, pathology and entomology in subsequent sessions. Horticultural education, plant exploration abroad and the extraordinary collections in the Rochester public parks were the subjects of other speakers. Two field trips completed the program.
M. Andrea de Vilmorin of the 200 year old nursery firm of similar name which is the largest in France, spoke on French horticulturists and their accomplishments. Among those described for their historic importance in other botanical fields were several who hold a special interest for rhododendron enthusiasts: Andre Michaux, who also discovered and introduced R. catawbiense , calendulaceum and canescens ; and the missionaries David, Soulie and Delavay, who first described many fine Asian rhododendron species.
At the conclusion of the Council activities I visited the remarkably varied collection of rhododendrons which is being assembled by Bernard Harkness and Richard Fenicchia for the Rochester Park Department and saw the many promising hybrids which have been produced by Mr. Fenicchia's breeding program.