QBARS - v15n2 Progress of the Union County (New Jersey) Rhododendron Display Garden

Progress of the Union County (New Jersey) Rhododendron Display Garden
Velma Haag, New Jersey

The establishment of the east coast display garden has been assured by the interest, enthusiasm, and the response to the drive for funds by our many gardeners. The participation of the garden clubs, both the women's and the men's, as well as their individual members, the general public, and from the nurserymen has been most encouraging and heart warming. Their generosity has made it possible to plan for the planting of about 1000 plants for the spring of 1961. This should complete the first phase of the project to plant about 5000 rhododendron in this garden. These 1000 plants should complete the planting on the westerly side of the W. R. Tracy Drive, as noted on the landscape plan. (Fig. 24)

NJ rhododendron display garden map landscape plan
Fig. 23 Fig. 24

This garden has been planned for the education and pleasure of the general public. It is designed to show the full beauty of rhododendron in its many varieties and will incorporate companion plants to more fully beautify the garden. Plants will be labeled and recorded for either casual observation or more serious study of this superb plant family. This garden is the joint project of the Union County Rhododendron Committee of the New Jersey Chapter of ARS and the Union County Park Commission. The committee will promote interest in the garden, solicit funds for the purchase of plants, select the plants and design the garden. The Park Commission will provide the site, prepare the ground, plant the garden and maintain it. The garden will be free and open to the public at all times.
The site of the garden is located in the beautiful woodlands of the 2000 acre reservation of the Watchung Reservation of the Union County Park System. It is located toward the eastern side of the state of New Jersey and to the south westernly side of metropolitan New York City. It is about three miles from the Garden State Parkway, west by way of route 22 and north on New Providence Road. Signs designate the direction to Trailside Museum and Surprise Lake will lead you directly to the site. Visitors will be welcome this spring and at any time. (Fig. 23)
During the summer of 1960 the maintenance department of the park, under the able direction of Robert Koller, horticulturist and forester, prepared the first section of the garden. After the bed areas were staked off, the soil was rototilled with the addition of one hundred forty yards of humus. Then the beds were allowed to settle until fall when they were again rototilled preceding some fall planting on October 10, 1960. These first plants were the gift to the garden from John C. Wisner of Summit, New Jersey. There were twenty-five plants, about thirty years old, hybrids grown from seeds collected by the late Charles 0. Dexter. Mr. Wisner was a friend and neighbor of Mr. Dexter at Sandwich, Massachusetts. Of these unusual plants, all have large flowers of clear colors, and of early bloom. Some have remarkable characteristics worthy of propagation. These plants will be the first of this type that hundreds of visitors will have seen. We are indeed grateful to Mr. Wisner for his generosity. At the same time twenty-five plants of our older varieties were also planted. These were the gift of a local nursery.
At the annual Founders Day on March 19, William S. Miller, treasurer of the committee, reported contributions of $5029.75; expenses of printing, postage, and for publicity totaling $912.43; leaving a balance of $4,117.32.
John Jennings presented a beautiful rendition of the landscape plan in full color and shading. This is a wonderful representation of what our capable landscape architect has in mind. Along with it Robert Anderson, also landscape architect, artist and nurseryman, displayed twelve oil paintings, size 9" x 12", of rhododendron bloom in natural size. This is the finest education that could be presented to the newcomer to the rhododendron hobby. Many of the Founders viewed these with almost disbelief, so unusual were some of the varieties.
Robert Mumford, who has served in the capacity of legal advisor, announced receipt of the Official Internal Revenue Exemption papers. This represents considerable time and effort and a most worthwhile accomplishment. Mr. Mumford had previously prepared the definition of the purposes presented in 'Display Gardens Under the Auspices of the New Jersey Chapter of ARS' and organizational responsibilities of the 'Union County Rhododendron Committee.' We are most grateful for his able assistance.
Plans for the New Jersey Chapter of ARS spring 1961 Rhododendron Exhibit were announced by Mrs. E. L. Ostrove. The dates are Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21, from 1:00 to 5:00 P.M. at Trailside Museum, open free to the public. The New Jersey Chapter is being assisted by the Spadenhoe Garden Club of Cranford. All rhododendron enthusiasts are invited to exhibit. Cut trusses may be placed Saturday morning from 9:00 A.M. until noon. The museum may be reached by same route previously given for reaching the garden.
Karl Hekeler presented two labels that are being considered for the garden. One is a small label attached to the plant for a permanent record. It consists of a glass vial, rubber stoppered at each end, and with a typed label inside. The second label is a large one for the benefit of the public. It will indicate the variety of each group of plants. This label is engraved wood simulated plastic, mounted on a wooden blockÔÇ× which in turn is secured to a metal stake.
Mrs. Walter Klute, secretary, reported the filing of the names and addresses of all contributors; sending invitations for Founder's Day meeting to same; sending 75 letters to garden clubs; addressing 100 letters to service clubs, sending receipt cards to all contributors; writing letters to nurserymen seeking contributions for plants.
Mrs. Edward L. Coffey reported that her 1961 request to about 75 women's garden clubs were being answered with continuing interest and further contributions. Mr. Francis Whitaker reported his letters to service clubs to encourage their continued interest and support. Walter Ritchie reported his contacts with nurseries to encourage their participation. Mrs. Haag reported contributions of more than 200 plants from individuals and nurseries.
A Remembrance Card was presented by Mrs. Thomas Roy Jones. This card was designed to further promote the garden by planting a rhododendron in honor of a friend, relative or associate. It is sent to the honored person at the request of anyone wishing to add a plant to the garden and for the contribution of $5.00. This phase of the promotion program was launched at the Founders meeting. If successful, it should provide a steady income for additions to the garden.
Those in attendance at the meeting were presented with a rhododendron as a gift. Also, a number of those present offered to grow, to flowering size, seedlings of keiskei and racemosum. This display of active participation insures the continued success of this educational gardening venture.