QBARS - v24n3 President's Report, 1970 American Rhododendron Society Annual Meeting

President's Report
Carl H. Phetteplace, M.D.

Let me first express our appreciation and thanks to the Vancouver chapter and its members for putting on such a top flight annual meeting for the Society. I would venture to say that no horticultural society of any kind ever has had finer meetings than the A.R.S. Each host chapter, over the past several years, has exceeded all expectations as to what they could do to host the annual meeting and anyone who has been unable to attend any of them has indeed missed something. Vancouver, this jewel of a city, with its many fine gardens and points of high interest lends itself so well to a meeting of this kind. We are most grateful to all of you and the people of the City who have done so much to make our visit a very happy occasion.

I think I should single out a special note of thanks to one of your members - Miss Evelyn Jack and also to the University of B.C. for one of the most outstanding contributions to rhododendron lovers everywhere in the continent that has been done by anyone. You are all familiar of course with Dr. Walker's great contribution in visiting the most famous gardens in the British Isles and getting their consent to send to us cuttings of their choice species, many of which we have never had access to before. Miss Jack with the facilities of the U. of B.C. took on the job of receiving this material and root­ed an unusually high percentage of them. As a result we now have some 500 species plants from this source growing beautifully at the Species Foundation Garden and there are still more to be moved down. In that way you. through Miss Jack and the University, have made a great contribution to rhododendron culture in this continent.

I think before going further I should express a note of sadness. We have during the last year lost through death the lovable and generous Ben Nelson. a member of the Board. Earlier we lost one of our really great people, Mr. Henry DuPont and more recently we have lost Mr. Edward Beineke.

Ralph Van Landingham. Mr. John Schamenek and Mr. Halfdan Lem. All of these men have made great contributions to beautiful gardens and to the culture and enjoyment of the genus Rhododendron. I have recently been told that Mr. Van Landingham has dedicated his entire rhododendron glen as a display and test garden plus a fund of $160,000, the income from which is to be used for perpetual maintenance of this garden not only for the use and benefit of the A.R.S. but for the everlasting enjoyment of the public. May I suggest that we stand in a moment of thankful meditation in honor of these most respected and valuable members of our Society.

I ought say that this year your Board has made a special effort in the direction of this being truly an all American Rhododendron Society. You will notice that committee appointments have been made from all parts of the continent including your John Lofthouse who is chairman of propagation. We hope for more chapters in Canada. Also, with the increasing knowledge of the Malesian species we see no reason why we should not eventually have chapters and enthusiastic rhododendron growers "south of the border," as they say, even into the tropics. We have already had a communication from Argentina where the climate is much like our own about growing rhododendrons there.

I. First a short run-down on accomplishments over the past year. In compliance with the decision of the Board at Pine Mountain last April we have revised the By-laws making provision for an Eastern Vice President who will be concerned among other things with ratings. awards and communications east of the Mississippi River. Mr. Alfred Martin has been elected to this office and we feel very fortunate to have his acceptance. Over a period of several years he has been a most loyal and hard-worker for the A.R.S. His services have been invaluable in keeping widely separated areas geographically somewhat in touch with each other. His new office will require an even greater amount of his time and real work. I hope all chapters in the east will appreciate his dedication to the Society and that everyone will help him in every way possible. At best his task is not easy but will be impossible without your utmost cooperation.

II. Mr. Martin's becoming Vice President leaves a vacancy on the Board. We are happy to report the appointment of Mr. Fred Galle to fill his unexpired term. To get greater representation and better com­munications from various regions. We have appointed Mr. Fred Knapp of the New York chapter as associate editor and Dr. Herbert Hechenbleikner of the S.E. Chapter as a contributing editor to keep us informed on what they are thinking about in those regions.

III . To supplement the By-laws and give stable guidance to successive Boards we have worked out and approved a very comprehensive "Policies of the Board" which will appear in the Bulletin or by separate mailing for your information.

IV . We have added during the year six new chapters and there are others in the formative stage in different parts of the country. We welcome these chapters most heartily and of course offer any assistance we can to help them to success.

V. We have established, during the year, a Research Committee upon which we have named individuals from all parts of the country who have special knowledge and scientific ability in the problems of growing rhododendrons. Years ago our main concern was about hardiness. It still is a real important consideration but more recently we find that there are many very serious and devastating diseases in many areas which in all likelihood will spread to every rhododendron garden in the country unless we learn more about cause and control.

VI. We have recently reviewed our articles of incorporation and are pleased to report that we now have a definite document from the I. R. S. in Washington, D.C. reaffirming our tax exempt status, specifically stating that donations to the Society are tax exempt and that all I. R. S. tax districts in the U.S. will be so notified.

VII . We have Mrs. Marjorie Baird and her helpers working on a 25-year Index of all Society Bulletins, which is no small task.

VIII . Mr. Ed Dunn and his committee are preparing a history of the A.R.S. and all of its chapters. Both of these projects are important and especially necessary to get completed while there are still people who have known the A.R.S. from its very beginning.

IX . Considerable work has been done to stimulate any qualified person or people we know of to publish a modern comprehensive "Species Book" to take the place of the one edited by the late J. B. Stevenson now 10 years ago. We have nothing positive to report to you at this time. but are exploring what seems to be the best possibilities and sincerely hope something will come of it.

Work has already been started on the next 5-year "Handbook of the A.R.S.". It is no small task and may not be ready for our next annual meeting but it is overdue. We believe the theme will be "New American Varieties", and should be interesting world-wide.

I have already mentioned the Research Committee recently formed. Although there has been a great amount of research on problems of growing rhododendrons throughout the country it has been almost entirely carried out by individuals and especially colleges and experimental stations. The work of Dr. Harry Hoitink of Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center on Phytophthora or root rot is especially commendable. But the A.R.S. itself has not heretofore carried out or stimulated any definite research projects as a society function. We have high hopes for this committee. Its primary objectives are:

  1. To determine what problems are already being studied throughout the country.
  2. Enlist workers and assign priorities relative to existing problems.
  3. Assist in any way we can as a society within the limits of our financial ability any bona fide rhododendron research worker. This may possibly eventually include assisting with exploratory expeditions concerned with discovery and collecting new varieties and forms.
  4. Solicit funds, donations and legacies to add to what muscle we have to support these projects. It is with this thought in mind that we have made as certain as possible that we are indeed a tax exempt institution for scientific and educational purposes in order that we may receive funds to help us in this needy cause.


Of course our greatest problem. especially if we are to give any substantial backing to research, is money. Everything seems to cost more and more money. We really have only two dependable alternatives for increasing our incoming funds: (1) Increasing the dues and (2) increasing the Society total membership.

As for dues increases we have considered this somewhat but are very reluctant to take any action on this matter, especially when the economy generally is as it has been. With costs of all kinds, even postage for mailing you the Bulletin, going up as they are it seems a raise in dues to something like ten dollars for family membership cannot be long avoided if we are to remain solvent and provide you and the Society with the services you have the right to expect. Our Budget Committee has recommended this increase in dues at its last report.

As for membership increases this has been quite gratifying. I believe that during the year we have as mentioned six new chapters and more in the process of forming and you will note in the last Bulletin almost five pages of new members. Our one problem in this area is dropouts. Up till now our percentage of dropouts is almost exactly the same as new members - something like 20% a year. This problem can only be overcome by the individual chapters themselves. As all chapter presidents know I have written each a personal letter on this subject recently. It is a responsibility of each member to help get new members but it is the responsibility, also, of the officers and programming chairmen to provide something in Chapter activities that keep people interested and continuing their membership. It is important to try to get each member involved in some way, not only in Chapter activities but in community activities as well. Every member of our own Eugene Chapter, for instance, has great pride in the Municipal rhododendron park that we with the cooperation of city officials have developed. Very few people will remain members long if they only come to meetings to listen to a program, have coffee and cookies and go home. How much more we could do as a national Society for our members if we had a membership of 10,000 rather than 3,000. We have had them but we have lost them.

One thing I am sure you may have some questions about is the increase in the price of seeds from the seed exchange. There has been much discussion on this matter at Board meetings. There are a few pertinent facts many, may be aware of, but it is important that all of you are familiar with them. First, throughout all the years since the exchange began Mrs. Esther Berry has carried on this entire program out of the goodness of her heart. She has been dedicated to this very important society project to the point that in previous years when it was suggested to her that she hold out some of the revenues to at least reimburse her for her expenses she stoutly refused. Many of you do not know that during all these years she has spent full time up to 14 hours a day for three months out of each year, receiving, sorting. packaging, cataloguing, and mailing seeds. In addition she has twisted the arms of four to six of her neighbors and friends to devote long hours without pay as helpers. Her home has been a veritable factory, almost crowding her husband out into the hayloft. She has paid money out of her own pocket for cleaning and housekeeping women and even buying some supplies. Nobody else I can think of would do this and do it cheerfully except Esther Berry. In fact, we have tried to get someone to relieve her of the thing that has become a giant project and of course no one would even seriously consider it.

This year the Board persuaded her to consent to holding out up to a maxi­mum of $1,800.00 a year to cover expenses of the Exchange. Actually this year she could not bring herself to hold out but $1,500.00. I'm sure there is no one in the Society who is not happy that she has been willing to do this. When Esther Berry quits the seed exchange for any reason I fear there will be no more seed exchange.

Along with this there were members of the Board who felt that even so the Society should value the seeds that members who had spent so much time hand-pollinating, harvesting and sending in to the Exchange more than they had in the past. With all these facts in mind the Board rather reluctantly raised the price of hand-pollinated seeds as you have already found if you have gone through the seed catalog. Along with that action we have passed the motion that any monies left over after all expenses are paid would be turned over to the Research Foundation. This year we have received from Mrs. Berry, after paving expenses, $1,000, which is the first beginning of our fund for research. None of this money in the future will be used for operational expenses of the Society or other purposes.

At this time I think I would be remiss if I did not officially make note of the award of the Loderi Cup to our own Dr. David Leach for his many contributions to rhododendron literature, especially "Rhododendrons of the World'". This is the first time in history that this award has been given to anyone other than a British citizen. Dave has several other contributions in the making that I am sure will be noteworthy. We congratulate him not only for this but for his constant and sturdy support of the A.R.S. Let us have a round of applause for Dave.

Finally I wish to thank all the members of the Board and committees all over the country for their most willing assistance in my office. I've had jobs before which entailed organizing committees and making assignments, some on a fairly large scale. But I never had a more happy response than I have had during this year, whenever I've asked anyone to take over any part of the Society's activities. You know this is a rather large organization spread out all over the U.S. and Canada. No one, however able, could do all this alone. Although there has been reams of letter writing, phone calls and details of some kind almost every day it has been a real joy to work with so many fine, cheerful people. I think there is something very special about people who love plants. As E. H. Wilson has said there is a delightful free­masonry among them which makes them wish to help one another. You have all been so nice and all I can say is "thank you" and "bless you one and all".