QBARS - v28n1 A Connection With The Past

A Connection With the Past
Dave Goheen, Camas, Washington

This past May, the Portland Chapter again put on a very fine display of blooms at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. The weather cooperated beautifully and during the bleak winter months the memory of hundreds of showy trusses is a fine thing to contemplate.
The outstanding memory of that show, however, was a chance encounter that I had with one of the hundreds of people who came to enjoy the beautiful setting.
It was my pleasure to meet Mr. Andrew Tse of Hong Kong. Mr. Tse is a remarkably well-preserved gentleman who told me that he has retired from active business as he will be seventy years old this next year. This information was incredible in itself as he appeared to be a man of no more than fifty or so. The amazing part of our conversation was the discovery that this man had actually worked with Dr. Joseph Rock and, indeed, had helped Dr. Rock prepare and send seed to the United States. He head nothing but praise for Dr. Rock and called him a true friend of China. Some of his remarks about a few of the other collectors would probably be better left unrecorded.
Mr. Tse has retained an active interest in the Rhododendron Genus and is of the opinion that China will once more allow collection in the future. In the meantime, he asked me if I should be interested in rhododendron seed from the country of Bhutan in the Himalayas. He stated that he does not believe this country has been covered by collectors and might be a fertile source for new species or new forms of known species.
He claimed to know personally the mother of the ruler of the country and was of the opinion that he could induce her to send native collectors through the countryside to collect seed.
I asked him if he should require any financial support from the American Rhododendron Society to defray any possible expenses, but he generously stated that he would bear all costs if the project can be developed.
I am now in the process of contacting Mr. Tse and am asking him by all means to try to obtain seed from Bhutan. Unfortunately, if the seed is forthcoming, it will undoubtedly be collected by untrained personnel. Therefore, growing it will be attendant with the element of surprise. But, who knows, there may be new species and surely some fine things. Bhutan is a high country and borders Tibet from which many beautiful and hardy species have come.
I, for one, will anxiously await an answer from Mr. Tse. If he is able to get seed, it will be distributed through the ARS seed exchange. Let's hope he is successful.
This remarkable conversation with a co-worker of Dr. Rock can only be described as a connection with the past. Many years have passed since the last seeds from the Rock collections were distributed. We may sometimes have a new infusion of species into our gardens. They won't be from Rock collections, but they will be the result of the love of the Genus instilled into a young Chinese gentleman by this famous collector.