QBARS - v31n1 In Memory of Ralph W. Pennington

In Memory Of Ralph W. Pennington
Frank A. Smith, Woodstock, Georgia

Ralph W. Pennington, a long time collector, breeder and tester of rhododendrons and azaleas - both evergreen and deciduous - died September 11, 1976.

Ralph was the organizer and a charter member of the Azalea Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. His collection of evergreen azaleas was probably the most extensive in the Southeast. New plants were constantly being added from the collections of others as were plants from his own prodigious breeding program. He jokingly referred to himself as being afflicted with a disease called "collectors-itis." His expertise was freely given whether it was to a Botanical Garden with thousands of plants or to the green amateur with half a dozen.

In 1975 the Azalea Chapter awarded Ralph the Bronze Medal in recognition of his work with the genus rhododendron, service to various Chapters and the National Society and for his generous contributions of plants to beautify gardens in the Southeast. The Azalea Chapter also honored him by establishing the perpetual Ralph W. Pennington Award for the best seedling exhibited at their annual Atlanta Show.

The Azalea Chapter, The Georgia Nurserymen's Association and the Georgia Botanical Garden is establishing the Ralph W. Pennington Memorial Garden on the grounds of the Botanical Garden at the University of Georgia in Athens. The Garden will contain Ralph's collection, labeled and true to name and his unfinished work on fragrant azaleas. It will serve as a teaching and research tool as well as a gene and variety bank for future breeders and nurserymen.