QBARS - v32n4 1979 Convention Report

The 1979 A.R.S. National Convention
Vancouver, British Columbia May 17th-20th

Dr. L. K. Wade, Convention Chairman

In 1970 the Vancouver Chapter hosted a memorable A.R.S. annual convention, the first held outside the United States. This Spring Vancouver will again be the host city for the A.R.S. National. Convention and we hope that the many Society members who enjoyed their visit with us in 1970, as well as those unable to come at that time, will join us in 1979. Acting on the many favorable comments received during the 1970 Convention , we have again chosen the beautiful and luxurious Bayshore Inn as our headquarters. This hotel is located right on Vancouver's waterfront within 10 minutes walk of Stanley Park, a 1000 acre wooded Peninsula combining coastal rainforest, beautiful beaches and lovely trails with world famous gardens and the superb Vancouver Aquarium. The hotel site also commands a spectacular view of the snow-capped Coast Range Mountains (the home of Rhododendron albiflorum !) bordering Greater Vancouver's northern edge, as well as Vancouver's magnificent harbor, one of the busiest in North America. Downtown Vancouver, with its shopping, cosmopolitan atmosphere, and wide range of restaurants, lies a 15 minute walk in the opposite direction and can also be reached by a free bus service from the Bayshore. Society members who attended the 1970 Convention will also experience two new features of Vancouver which have been developed since that date - the Botanical Gardens of the University of British Columbia and the Van Dusen Botanical Display Garden, both to be featured on our proposed tours. These two projects underscore the increasing interest of the Vancouver Public in the natural world and its inhabitants and contribute to the developing personality of this distinctly Canadian city situated, as Dr. Rhodes mentioned in 1970, between untouched wilderness on one side and industrial technology on the other.
In recent decades interest in rhododendron hybrids has mushroomed and more and more enthusiasts are trying their hand at the fascinating game of developing new rhododendron entities not found in nature. None of these new hybrids could have been developed of course without the species whose gene pools we make use of in our hybridizing efforts and this provides the background for our major theme - the exploration for rhododendrons. Rhododendron Exploration - the phrase conjures up pictures of exotic lands, of Asian mountain ranges wreathed in mist, of high, isolated, tundra-covered plateau, and not least the names of the explorers involved - Kingdon-Ward, Wilson, Forrest, Rock - courageous and adventurous men who first made available to the Western World the beautiful plants which now lend their genes to our modern hybrids. We felt it both appropriate and exciting that we pause in our headlong rush of hybridizing to recognize and pay tribute to the men, the areas, and the plants which have made our present efforts possible. The theme seems even more appropriate at this time when we consider that today there appears to be a resurgence of interest in the species and their origins despite the great achievements in hybridizing. In addition Vancouver, with its equable marine climate, is one of North America's focal points in the growing of species, largely through the University of British Columbia's connection with the Rhododendron Species Foundation and the efforts of Miss Evelyn Jack, Ted and Mary Greig, and others at U. B. C. and elsewhere. With this major theme in mind, we have organized a varied program of speakers and tours. Following a 7:00 p.m. reception, the convention program will open Thursday evening with a keynote address by Alleyne Cook, a noted rhododendron authority and a witty and talented speaker with a lifelong interest in the story of rhododendron exploration. Mr. Cook, who many visitors had the pleasure of meeting during the early morning 'rhodo walks' in Stanley Park during the 1970 Convention, will set the theme for the convention with a talk on Sino-Himalayan rhododendron exploration.
Continuing Friday morning with the exploration theme, Warren Berg will describe some of his explorations in such fascinating places as Yakushima and Cheju Islands, and will illustrate his talk with his excellent slides. Captain Berg's experiences demonstrate very clearly that exciting rhododendron finds can still be made in those parts of the world still open to us. The contributions of the plant explorer Joseph Rock will be the subject of the next talk, to be given by Albert de Mezey a well-known Victoria rhododendron enthusiast who knew Joseph Rock well. Mr. de Mezey's great knowledge and enthusiasm on the subject should ensure a most interesting presentation.
Our first tour will take place Friday afternoon, to the University of British Columbia's Botanical Garden and Physical Plant rhododendron collections. At our 1970 Convention the U. B. C. Botanical Garden was still for the most part a dream - today it is a reality and a number of components are well under way and are a delight to the eye. These include a very extensive and comprehensive rock garden, unexcelled perhaps in North America, which includes among its thousands of inhabitants a large number of dwarf rhododendron species growing under very natural conditions, an extensive British Columbia native garden containing at this time over a third of the B.C. flora and, of greatest interest perhaps to Society members, a large Asian garden. The Asian garden has been developed in a virtually perfect setting, a Douglas Fir-Grand Fir-Broadleaf Maple forest in a very protected and nutrient-rich site. The forest has been carefully thinned to provide sunny glades and areas of high dappled shade and has been subsequently planted with a superb collection of over 350 rhododendron species as well as many little-known Asiatic trees and shrubs, amongst which are extensive collections of maples and magnolias. Although still in an early stage of development, the new Asian garden is a delight of which we are justly proud and we feel it deserves a prominent place on our program. The renowned U. B. C. Physical Plant rhododendron collection, enjoyed by our visitors at the 1970 Convention, will again be a major part of our Friday afternoon U. B. C. tour. Miss Evelyn Jack, known to so many A.R.S. members for her great work with rhododendron propagation, will conduct a tour of the Physical Plant nursery.
Friday evening, following dinner at the Bayshore, Professor Joseph Ewan, the Ida A, Richardson Professor of Botany at Tulane University, New Orleans, will present a talk on the History of Rhododendron Exploration in the Southeastern United States. Dr. Ewan is a highly distinguished botanist with a great interest for the historical and plant exploration aspects of his field. During his academic life he has held several quite varied posts. He began his bibliographical and historical studies in 1933 as research assistant to Willis Linn Jepson who was then preparing his Flora of California. After four years with Jepson he taught at the University of Colorado, 1937 to 1944. After an interim with the Foreign Economic Administration in Colombia, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Division of Plant Exploration and Introduction of the United States Department of Agriculture, he returned to academic life in 1947 at Tulane University where he now holds the Ida Richardson Chair of Botany in the Biology Department. He spent the academic year 1954-1955 in Europe as a Guggenheim Fellow studying early American contacts and records. Professor Ewan has been a panelist on several natural history symposia here and abroad, including Paris, Leningrad, and Newcastle, New South Wales. His many publications include Synopsis of North American Species of Delphinium (195), William Bartram: Botanical and Zoological Drawings (1968), John Banister and his Natural History of Virginia (1970), and he has been editor of the Hafner reprint series Classica Botanica Americana. Professor Ewan's presentation will examine plant, and particularly rhododendron, exploration from the viewpoint of an historical botanist rather than rhododendron enthusiast per se and will undoubtedly shed some new light on a fascinating subject. We feel certain Dr. Ewan's presentation will be one of the highlights of our convention.
Saturday will bring a modification of our theme and a chance for those with particular interests in the hybrids to hear some talks on this group of plants. The morning program will start with a talk by Mrs. Mary Greig, who I think needs no introduction to rhododendron enthusiasts in this part of the world. Mrs. Greig and her husband Ted ran the famous Royston Nursery on Vancouver Island, the first in the Pacific Northwest to bring in rhododendron species in a major way. Mrs. Greig's subject will be the history of rhododendron development in British Columbia from its earliest years to the present. Her talk will be followed by a look at present day hybridizing in the Vancouver area, by Jack Lofthouse, well known for his lectures, bulletin articles, and his own prolific hybridizing efforts. Mr. Lofthouse will discuss some of the newer Vancouver area hybrids and hybridizers and will illustrate his lecture with his excellent photographs.
For an update on the newest group of rhododendrons to capture rhododendron enthusiasts' interests, Hadley Osborn from the California Chapter will discuss progress in the culture and hybridizing of the Vireya group in California. This magnificent group, unexcelled in clarity of colour which includes many resplendent yellows and oranges as well as the more common reds, pinks and whites, is certain to stimulate great interest in the future, even though its species will have to be restricted to greenhouses for most of us. Mr. Osborn's great enthusiasm and knowledge of this subject is well known. Lunch on Saturday will be at the Bayshore and will feature as luncheon speaker Richard Steele of Halifax, Nova Scotia, the president elect of the Canadian Rhododendron Society. Captain Steele will discuss progress in rhododendron growing in Eastern Canada. Following Captain Steele's presentation, delegates will leave for a tour of our newly opened Van Dusen Botanical Display Garden, a beautiful 55 acre garden sited on the former Shaughnessy golf course. Van Dusen Garden is one of the most interesting new features of Vancouver and combines a very wide selection of plant material from around the world artistically displayed on a lovely site. Major features include a large, primarily rhododendron hybrid collection, a series of ponds highlighting hardy water lilies and other aquatic and semi-aquatic plants, a southern hemisphere collection with many little-known species, and a beautiful Mediterranean garden. This new garden, although lacking the maturity of older gardens, gives an impression of being older than it actually is, an effect due partly to the groves of tall Douglas Fir and Black Locust which were part of the original site.
The Annual Meeting and Banquet will be held Saturday evening and will be highlighted by the President's address. On display at the Bayshore Inn for the duration of the convention will be a wide variety of mature rhododendron plants in large containers, an event for which many Vancouver Chapter members have already spent a lot of time preparing. In addition, Mrs. Mary Comber-Miles, a well-known local botanical artist, will present an exhibition of 50 of her magnificent paintings, all featuring rhododendrons. Those of you who know Mrs. Miles' paintings know how beautifully she is able to capture the essence of a particular plant in water-colors.
The Breeder's Roundtable, chaired by Dr. R. C. Rhodes, will be held on Sunday and will feature various aspects of rhododendron genetics, polyploidy, and pollination as well as some of the more traditional hybridizing subjects.
The members of the Vancouver Chapter look forward very much to hosting the 1979 convention. We are working hard to ensure that it will be an experience not to be forgotten.