QBARS - v18n2 We've Gone to Seed

We've Gone To Seed
Esther Berry, Aberdeen, Washington

The response to the seed exchange has been enthusiastic. Many of the seed requests have been accompanied by friendly notes that were both a surprise and a delight. One applicant wrote, "The adventure of going through your seed list was most enjoyable and the prospect of producing some of these seedlings is exciting. Let me register a big vote for your seed program." Another said, "We have had an ideal winter here and everything looks wonderful." And this, "Do you need any money for unexpected expenses? If so, please keep the balance where items listed are not available."

Also, "Send any substitutions that you think are desirable, I won't be critical or complain." These Thank you notes came after the seed had been sent, "My seed is safely sown and in flats in the greenhouse. A lovely lot! Next year I hope to be on the giving end." This one really gave us a boost, "I would like to thank and compliment you for your excellent, quick and very thoughtful attention in the seed distribution. I was particularly pleased with my results."

You have guessed of course, that we are going to handle the seed exchange another year. How could we resist?

These warm expressions of encouragement and appreciation have more than compensated those who worked on this program, for the time and effort they spent. It has been an interesting and satisfying experience.

Requests Were Numerous Statistics do not really reflect the success or failure of a program such as this but still it is interesting to know something of the volume of our 'business.' The number of packets of seed requested was 1456, number of packets sent (exclusive of bonus packets) 1274, of these 342 were substitutions. Our gross income from the exchange was $617.60. Expenses for stationery, postage and equipment, $118.90.

The biggest demand was for the R. yakushimanum crosses; we allowed only one packet of these to each order but even so there were many applicants who received none. There was also a large demand for the Exbury Azaleas, fortunately we had a good stock of these and we were able to fill almost all these orders. Other hybrid crosses were somewhat less popular but in most cases supplies were not adequate.

Hand Pollinated Seed Wanted Wherever hand pollinated species were listed, there were few requests for the open pollinated seed. The species requested most often were: R. albrechtii , arborescens , barbatum , calendulaceum , catawbiense var. album , catawbiense var. rubrum , charitostreptum , chryseum , degronianum , eclecteum , fargesii , keiskei , schlippenbachii (especially the Birch form), sutchuenense , vernicosum (sheltonae), weyrichii and zeylanicum .

We sent out a supplementary list with each order which listed a few late arrivals from members and also a good many single packets of seed from the Royal Botanic Garden at Edinburgh. The largest number of requests from this list were for R. argyrophyllum , arizelum , beanianum , bureavii , crinigerum , fulvum , griersonianum , hanceanum --dwarf, insigne , lepidostylum , macabeanum , scintillans , scyphocalyx , stewartianum, and strigillosum .

There were several requests for every item that was listed on either list except for some of the open pollinated hybrids. We were sometimes unable to send the number of packets requested, this was especially true of those on the supplementary list where we had several requests for each packet of seed. We made substitutions only where it seemed likely that these would be acceptable; it is reasonable to suppose that we may have guessed wrong a few times.

It was our intention to provide sufficient seed in each packet for 20 or 30 seedlings; this seems an adequate amount for an individual sowing. We felt it would be wasteful to send more, especially of those that were in short supply. We included bonus packets of those that were more plentiful and some that arrived too late to be listed, so that these would not be wasted either. Not many bonus packets were included in the orders that were filled first because we did not then know if we should have a surplus of any kind. However those orders that were filled first had the advantage of receiving most of the items requested. With this year's experience we should be able to handle this much better.

Fair Distribution Attempted

At the time we set up the original plan of distribution, we overlooked the fact that the eastern chapters would not receive their bulletins at the same time as those on the west coast. As the orders began to come in we realized that this would be a disadvantage to the eastern members so we made the decision to fill no orders until those on the east coast should have an equal opportunity. Naturally this meant that we held some orders from the west coast for some time before filling them. Although we have had no protest about this, it seems possible that some of those members who got their orders in early may feel that this decision was rather arbitrary. If we have fully adequate supplies of seed, this will not be a problem, but so long as some kinds are in great demand and short supply, this is probably the fairest way to handle it.

Plans For Next Year

It always takes a little doing to get a new program established. We have made a good start but we can and must do much better. There are many really fine species that should be available, which were not on our list this year or which we had in very small quantity. The committee would greatly appreciate any information as to possible resource for: R. auriculatum , beanianum , bureavii , caeruleum , caloxanthum , chaetomallum , didymum , diaprepes , eriogynum , euchaites , forrestii var. repens , hirsutum , insigne , johnstoneanum , leucaspis , makinoi , macabeanum , mallotum , moupinense , neriiflorum , orbiculare , radicans , rhabdotum , sanguineum , sargentianum , smithii , souliei , spiciferum , sperabiloides , stewartianum , thomsonii . Also we need a much larger selection of kinds that would be hardy in the less favorable climates.

Already there are indications that we will have more and better seed next year; a more comprehensive list and a larger proportion of hand pollinated seed. Many members who were not able to send seed this year, have written that they hope to contribute seed this coming year. The keen interest shown in the program will be an incentive to others to spend the time on hand pollination and the harvesting of seed. It seems more worthwhile when one knows that these efforts will not be wasted.

The Price of Seed

We are now financially solvent; after the expenses are deducted we shall have an operating fund with which to expand and enlarge the program. I believe that we should now be able to reduce the price of open pollinated seed. However it does not seem wise to change the price of the hand pollinated seed. Fifty cents is well below the market price for such seed if it is available and usually it is not. It takes a great deal of time and trouble to produce any quantity of hand pollinated seed and we are indebted to those who are generous with both their time and resources to make this exceptional quality available to us. It seems proper and reasonable that they should want a fair value placed upon their contribution so that both the society as a whole and the individual member who receives the seed will benefit from their services.

Some members have expressed the hope that in future they will be able to receive seed at an earlier date. It is difficult to see how we could do much about this for some seed does not ripen until late in the year and it would be impractical to publish a list until nearly all of the seed is in. If contributors could send a list of kinds that they will have early in December, we might be able to save some time. We could possibly get the list to the printer a little earlier so that it would be ready to send out by the time the seed is ready. However, those who contribute the seed are busy people and must be permitted to make their contributions at their own convenience.

Although we have made every effort to avoid mistakes, I must confess that we have had the usual number of goofs; one man received his bonus packets but none of those he ordered, another received a well labeled empty seed packet; at the end of a long day's work I found a choice packet of seed on the floor which certainly belonged in someone's order, but whose! Next year we will make some further alterations in our procedures in the hope of increasing our efficiency.

We have received very little criticism to date and that little we welcome for it was offered in the form of constructive suggestions. We can improve our operation only when we know where we have failed.

If this program continues to grow, as I believe it will, and if only a fraction of this seed reaches maturity, as it surely will; why then, in ten years time we shall change the face of America.

Seed exchange committee:*
Mrs. J. Haines Mrs. Robert Rooker
Mrs. Ed Maxey Mrs. Robert Berry
*The members of this committee, working under the efficient chairmanship of Mrs. Berry, are all members of the Gray's Harbor Chapter.

Contributors to the seed exchange that were not listed in the January bulletin.
Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland
Mr. Warren Berg, Kent, Wash.
Mr. John Waring, Maryville, Tenn.
Mr. Earl Murray, Clallam Bay, Wash.
Mr. J. H. Bowman, Bandon, Oregon
Dr. Forrest Bump, Forest Grove, Ore.
Mr. Irving Benoff, Massapequa, L.I., New York
Mrs. Charmion Byers-Jones, Eugene, Oregon
Dr. Paul J. Bowman. Fort Bragg, Calif.
Mr. S. C. Early, Atlanta, Ga.
Laurelwood Gardens, Wayne, New Jersey

Note: Mrs. Berry furnished the Directors, at their last meeting, with a statistical report showing how many requests had been made for each lot of seeds. It is too long to print in its entirety but the following list of those items requested by 20 or more individuals indicates which ones were in greatest demand.

calendulaceum sutchuenense geraldii -Lancaster form yakushimanum x decorum hybrid
chengshienianum weyrichii yakushimanum x 'Carita'
chryseum 'Britannia' x yakushimanum Exbury azalea-pink cross
fargesii 'Vulcan' x yakushimanum Exbury azalea-white cross
keiskei 'May Day' x yakushimanum Exbury azalea-orange-red cross
schlippenbachii yakushimanum x 'Crest' Exbury azalea-yellow cross
schlippenbachii -Birch form