QBARS - v17n1 American Rhododendron Society President's Report

A. R. S. President's Report
J. Harold Clarke

It is a pleasure to again bring to you best wishes for the New Year and to present a very brief report of A. R S. activities for 1962. As our members and our chapters are so widely scattered, this report will not attempt to tell all that they have done to increase and disseminate knowledge of rhododendrons. Every chapter has had activities, and the overall service of the Society to the gardening public continues its upward trend.
Although membership is not the only measure of a Society's activity and usefulness it is of basic importance. We have had a steady growth, with more new members in 1962 than in any previous year. New members tend to encourage formation of new chapters, and new chapters bring in new member. During this year 4 new chapters have received their charters - Tappan Zee, Midwest, Princeton, and Olympic, bringing the total to 21. We wish for them very active and successful careers. It is noteworthy that no A.R.S. chapter, once organized, has failed to survive and function to the benefit of its members and the cause of Rhododendrons in general.
The single outstanding rhododendron event of the year was undoubtedly the annual meeting at Winterthur and Longwood in Delaware. This has already been well reported in the Bulletin. However, it would bear repeating that over 300 rhododendron fans, from all but three chapters, met for two days of pure garden pleasure, seeing, hearing about, and discussing rhododendrons and azaleas. Once more we express our heartfelt thanks to Mr. Henry F. duPont, the Longwood Foundation, and the various committees, who made possible this pleasant event. Due to the generosity of Mr. duPont and the Longwood Foundation in providing meals and facilities there was a substantial surplus of funds, which will be devoted to certain projects as requested by the group which organized and carried on the conference.
The success of the 1962 annual meeting, following that of the International Conference in 1961 seem to indicate unmistakably that members of the A.R.S. desire, and will support, national meetings. Our committee on annual meetings has recommended that they be held in different parts of the country, on invitation of a chapter, or chapters. Following this plan invitations have been accepted from Seattle for 1964, and from California for 1965. In the absence of specific invitations for 1963 the meeting this year will be in Portland a, has been the custom in the past. It would be nice if future meetings could be held in the East and the West alternately, as membership, and number of chapters, is about evenly divided, if we consider the Mississippi River as a dividing line.
Two of the Society's gold medals were presented during the year. One, at the time of the Winterthur meeting, was given to Dr. John C. Wister, Director of the Arthur Hoyt Scott Horticultural Foundation at Swarthmore. Pa. The second was presented in October to Mrs. A. C. U. Berry at Portland, Ore. The citations listing the many horticultural achievements of these recipients may be read in the Bulletin.
Many chapters staged successful shows during the year. I did not get to see them all, but would like to mention the one in Seattle, located adjacent to the World's Fair. It was outstanding for the many fine gardens magnificently staged. It was seen by over 10,000 people, from all over the United States and Canada, and probably from many other countries, so should help materially to spread interest in rhododendrons.
Our list of publications for the year included four fine issues of the Bulletin. the Proceedings of the International Conference held in 1961, and a new membership roster. The latter illustrates very clearly our growth in membership.
There was considerable activity in the various Test Gardens during 1962, some reported in the Bulletin, some just the normal growth based on many hours of volunteer labor. Interest in Test and Display Gardens is definitely on the increase in several chapters. Where conditions are favorable, and facilities available, this would seem to be one of the finest projects a chapter could undertake.
The great windstorm in October made a shambles out of the National Test Garden in Portland. I saw it the day after the storm, and it could best be described as one big brush pile (with some of the brush consisting of tree trunks 18 ins. in diameter) and the Rhododendrons, of course, at the bottom. I have not seen it since, but understand that heroic work by our own volunteer workers uncovered the rhododendrons, the Parks Dept. then removed the debris, and that the garden is approaching its former state of perfection. Many private gardens in the Northwest were also damaged severely.
From time to time new A.R.S. projects are started, evidence our Society is growing up and endeavoring to render greater service. The Species Project has been active under the able leadership of Dr. Milton V. Walker of Eugene. Ore. It is hoped that certain plants of a number of species may soon be tagged as "typical" for the species, and eventually one or more of each species tagged us "superior" clones, and possible candidates for A.R.S. Awards. The Species Committee is working a field which could be very productive for many years.
A new project envisioned for 1963 is a seed exchange. This has been approved in principle by the A.R.S. Board, and details will be worked out when committee members interested and willing to work in this field have been located.
There are doubtless many projects of great value being carried on at the chapter level. I have thought that we should have something like an annual report from the chapters, so that we could get some measure of the total impact being made in support of rhododendrons. Such reports might be inspirational to other chapters. Of course, many of these activities are already indicated in the reports of meetings as given in the Bulletin.
On behalf of the Society I would like to express sincere appreciation of 11 the work which has been done by chapter officers, committees and individual members during the past year. Special mention is due the national secretary, the A.R.S. Board and various committees. The Board, meeting three to four times a year, has cheerfully given a day's time and paid its own travel expenses. We regret that great distances, and lack of travel expense money prevent a number of our Board members from attending these meetings.
It is my hope and belief that our Society, which is you who read this, has the determination and aggressiveness to keep on growing, in numbers and in service to the garden minded public. Thank you all for your excellent cooperation.