QBARS - v30n4 An Evening with Guy Nearing

An Evening with Guy Nearing
Jane McKay, Kings Park, New York

Guy Nearing celbrates his 86th birthday.
Guy Nearing accepts congratulations from Dorothy Schlaikjer (left) and
Jane McKay (right) as the New York Chapter celebrates his 86th birthday.

The evening of January 15, 1976 was a memorable one for the New York Chapter. The program was planned as a tribute to Guy Nearing on the occasion of his 86th birthday and we were honored by the aura of Mr. Nearing's presence and his participation in the program.
Through the kind cooperation of members of four chapters who contributed slides along with detailed research notes from Emil Bohnel, Betty Hager spoke on The Nearing Rhododendrons. In addition to the ever popular 'Mary Fleming', 'Windbeam', 'Wyanokie' and 'Ramapo', new to most of us were:

  • 'Macopin - resembles 'Windbeam', chance seedling of racemosum , obviously crossed with carolinianum or a carolinium hybrid, flowers deeper color, almost red, larger bloom.
  • 'Cliff Spangle' - ('Bric-A-Brac' x R. mucronulatum ) Hardy to -20°F. 1ft. high in 15 yrs. dense 2" wide flowers.
  • 'Cliff Garland' - ('Bric-A-Brac' x mucronulatum ) 3' high in 10 yrs. early April bloom. Pale Pink. Guyencourt Hybrids - ( pubescens x keiskei ), one of the first lepidote groups named, 'Montchanin', 'Lenape', 'Brandywine,' 'Hockessin', 'Chesapeake'.
  • 'Elsmere' - seedling of 'Chesapeake', very small unusual flowers. Small yellow flowers less than 1 " diameter. Corolla lobes deeply divided. 5' in 20 yrs. A collectors item.
  • 'Azonea' - ('Azor' x Catanea (white form of catawbiense ) clear pink to salmon pink.
  • 'Rochelle' - bright rose with a strawberry blotch, buds hardy to -5°F.

Hardiness and then beauty are the requirements in Mr. Nearing's breeding program.
Mr. Nearing graciously answered many questions posed by the 110 members and guests present. From the questions asked, it appears Mr. Nearing's flair for making homemade wine is almost as well known as his work with rhododendrons!
John Boeggeman of the Tappan Zee Chapter spoke on The Remarkable Mr. Nearing recalling Mr. Nearing's accomplishments in the fields of advertising, mycology, philosophy, and chess as well as his talent as an author, musician and artist. He wrote a remarkable book on lichens which has never been equaled.
Dr. William Sullivan, President of the Nearing Committee, explained the purpose of the committee and what it expects to accomplish, that is, to assist in the evaluation of Mr. Nearing's plants and to make sure his excellent hybrids are preserved and distributed to gardens and arboretums where their value will be appreciated. Mr. Nearing's carefully kept records will also be the responsibility of this committee.
Gordon Jones, director of Planting Fields Arboretum, read congratulatory letters from Dr. August Kehr and Dr. David Leach. Fred Knapp read a letter from Alfred Raustein who explained the background on 'R. Guy Nearing' ( detonsum x 'Gilian'), obtained as a small seedling from Mr. Nearing many years ago. After Sidney Burns related some personal experiences, Paul Sleezer, Pres. of the New Jersey Chapter added a warm birthday message, followed by Andy Eddy, who relayed birthday wishes from the Bayard Cutting Arboretum Horticultural Society.
The evening concluded with a huge birthday cake and a spontaneous chorus of HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU which brought a big smile to Mr. Nearing's face.