QBARS - v24n4 Remarks from the President

Remarks from the President after the Summer Vacation
Carl H. Phetteplace, M.D.

Since the usual lapse of meetings during the summer months and the resumption of the year's Chapter activities it seems some comments from your president might be in order. First, I will ask all committee appointments made when I assumed office last year, if they will, please continue to serve for the next year. I wish to thank one and all for your helpfulness and friendly cooperation. This excellent committee work makes for a strong organization. Secondly, I should announce the appointment of some additional committees. Much of this information has already been sent to the individual chapters but it seems only proper that some of it should be of record in the Bulletin.
As most of you know, it was not easy to find someone who was willing to accept the job of Eastern Vice President, which office as you know was created at the Pine Mountain, GA, meeting April 1969. His duties (to quote from the meeting's minutes) were to "coordinate rating awards and communications" from the country east of the Mississippi River. Mr. Alfred Martin, as all agreed, was eminently qualified for this position. The Board was reluctant to lose him as a Director because in that capacity he had served so splendidly. During this period of establishing the eastern vice presidency I did not appoint a national chairman of committees on either ratings or awards. Mr. Martin's moving to eastern vice president left a director vacancy and this place was filled for Mr. Martin's unexpired term by the Board's election of Mr. Fred Galle which we believe is a fortunate circumstance and we welcome him heartily. Since then I have appointed David Fluharty, M. D., Newport News, Va. as chairman of awards and E. C. Brockenbrough. M.D., Bellevue, Washington as western regional co-chairman of awards. Dr. Fluharty will be responsible to Mr. Martin for the eastern section and Dr. Brockenbrough will report directly to the Board on awards requests from the western U.S.A. This organizes awards as best I can conceive at present. The procedure regarding awards has been published in the January 1968 Bulletin and should guide all awards committees.

As prescribed at Pine Mountain the eastern vice president is responsible for ratings in the east. I have appointed Mr. George Clarke of Portland as chairman of ratings in the west. Inasmuch as there is already work going forth on the next ARS hand book I have appointed the following to assist Mr. Clarke in getting the ratings material in shape: George Clarke, Chairman, Dr. J. Harold Clarke, Cecil Smith, Howard Slonecker, Ted Van Veen, Wales Wood, P. H. Brydon, C. H. Ward and Dr. Robert Ticknor. Perhaps many things they will set down will be unsatisfactory to growers in other parts of the country, but by the time the next hand book is published the Pine Mountain plan will be working smoothly and much more meaningful ratings effected.
There is an additional new committee which should be a matter of record in the Bulletin. This is the Research Committee. Of course we have always had the problem of hardiness. But more and more we are learning that Rhododendrons are subject to a variety of diseases about which we know far too little. We are suddenly becoming aware that they are spreading to parts of the country where Rhododendrons have always been grown without a thought of disease problems. Considerable research has been carried on by agriculture experiment stations, chemical concerns and some private individuals. But the A.R.S. as a society has contributed virtually nothing. Your president has discussed the subject with quite a number of people who have had experience with these problems; consequently, the following have been appointed as a

Research Committee

  1. Dr. Richard Stadther, Louisiana State University Horticulture Dept., Baton Rouge, La
  2. Dr. J. Harold Clarke, Long Beach, Wash.
  3. Dr. David Leach, Madison, Ohio
  4. A. Hadley Osborn, El Cerrito, Calif.
  5. Dr. David Goheen, Camas, Wash.
  6. Fred E. Knapp, Old Bethage, N.Y.
  7. Dr. Herbert Heckenbleikner, Charlotte, N.C.
  8. Dr. Thos. Wheeldon, Richmond, Va.
  9. John E. Eichelser, Olympia, Wash.

Since experience has shown that such a large committee confronted with a large variety of problems must have leadership, guidance and direction:  I have therefore appointed out of this committee a "steering section": Dr. J. Harold Clarke, Chairman, Dr. Richard Stadther and Mr. Arthur Coyle.

Dr. Clarke, being on the Board, can keep us constantly informed on plans and progress and also receive suggestions and direction from the Board. The first task of the committee is:

  1. Determine what work is already going on anywhere and its progress. Dr. August Kehr with his facilities at the USDA at Beltsville, Md. has graciously volunteered to begin that task and we are most grateful to him and his department.
  2. Establish priorities as to what problems seem most urgent and just who is best qualified to tackle the problem.
  3. Recommend to the Board suggestions as to financial assistance to help some workers.
  4. Solicit financial assistance thru legacies, gifts and other sources to use in this important project.

If you are not already aware, we have a document from the I. R. S. asserting in positive terms that we are eligible to receive gifts exempt from tax to the donor.

Rating and Awards
Fortunately on the west coast there is not enough climatic variability to offer many problems as to ratings. But even here we have mini-climates that make rigid and reliable ratings unrealistic. For example, I grow Cornus capitata to a nice small tree in my garden with attractive evergreen foliage, beautiful yellow flowers in Spring and spectacular red fruits in autumn. My friend living several miles down the same river has never gotten a plant through a single winter. The difference is that the river is almost in my front yard and then 100 yards to the back is a small wooded mountain. It seems to me that such factors would affect the quality of the plant and the matter of awards.
At Pine Mountain it was suggested that ratings and awards should be initiated strictly on a chapter level. Of course, it is not practical to have a rating for each and every chapter. In some subsequent discussions we have considered designating the rating on the basis of the nationally accepted climatic zones. Then, in addition to the usual letters and figures given in our ratings tables we would add the zone number. This seems better but somehow I have a feeling that it will not prove reliably accurate to growers everywhere and I am greatly concerned at the enormity of the task Mr. Martin faces trying to "coordinate" this material. I hope he is able to get a much higher percentage of responses from chapter ratings and award committees than national committees have been able to get in the past. I implore each and every chapter to make the greatest possible effort to provide him with the needed data without his having to beg for it.
As an afterthought it seems to me the most of our members and honest nurserymen know pretty well what will do well in their particular area to start with. This does not mean that I think published ratings and awards are not important. They are extremely so, but I do not believe we can calibrate this thing as a chemist measuring a reagent in the test tube. All of us are going to experiment with things we know we have little chance of getting through the winter but that's part of the fun.
The foregoing has been rather directed at the problem of assigning reliable and worthwhile ratings. There is less of a problem it seems so far as awards are concerned. The criteria for granting awards is rather clearly defined in the Bulletin of January 1968.
This has been evolved by Mr. Don McClure and his committee after years of serious thought. It is sound and although strict this is no fault. Too much rubbish has been foisted upon the unsuspecting grower simply because it had received an award either in this country or abroad. This is most culpable.
Application for an award should be under the guidance of the chapter awards committee as described in the Bulletin and should include at least the name of the plant, the cross if a hybrid, the clonal variety, if any, the award recommended and the date, the name of the grower and the climatic zone number. Also, some brief description should be included. These are basic items and are reasonably strict but if carried out there should be less chance of an injustice done to anyone. It is much better to dampen the ego of a hopeful hybridizer than to dump a lot of rubbish on hundreds of our trusting members.
One more very important matter should be mentioned, especially at the beginning of fall meetings. We need more members! It is very gratifying to note that in the last two Bulletins it has been necessary to add several pages to list new members. This shows we are alive. It would be my hope that every member this year try to get just one more new member.
Incidentally, the annual meeting at Philadelphia May 13, 1971 should be outstanding. Let us make this a great year, and show our Philadelphia friends our gratitude by coming if you possibly can. It is the City of Brotherly Love is it not? The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society is collaborating with our chapter and it should be the greatest. Don't miss it.