QBARS - v34n4 The 1981 Rhododendron Convention

The 1981 Annual Rhododendron Convention
Frederick W. Coe, Ross, CA

It's been 8 years since we entertained all of you here in San Francisco. Again we have picked the mid-season blooming time for our rhododendrons, the last day of April and the first 3 days of May. This doesn't mean you'll see everything you want, because tropical species such as the Vireyas tend to bloom off and on throughout the year with peaks of bloom in late fall and spring. Evergreen azaleas have been developed to bloom in almost every month of the year and around San Francisco Bay you'll see a number of them in bloom no matter when you come.
This time we will hold our conference in one of the historical hotels of San Francisco. The Palace Hotel has a long and colorful past dating to its founding in the 1870's and while it stood through the quake of 1906, it was gutted by the fire that followed. Until the "New" Palace was completed on the same site the management erected a small wooden hotel to house the permanent residents, something unheard of in our present society. Located in the center of San Francisco it gives easy access to the city either walking or by public transportation.
Our theme is "Rhododendrons of the Pacific Basin", which covers all of our Pacific west coast species, Japan, China and, by extension, the Himalayan species, plus those of the islands of the Pacific and Australia. You can see that most of the species of rhododendrons except for the few Europeans and those of our eastern seaboard are included. As the Asiatic species represent the source of parents for most of our garden hybrids and the new revival in hybridizing the Vireya section opens up the field for indoor plants, it's obvious we have a lot to cover.
The narrow strip of almost frost-free country running from coastal north central California to the Mexican border offers the opportunity to grow many tender plants. Hawaii, too, offers a wonderful region for growing these species and hybrids. We hope to give you some recent information on the Vireyas in the wild and their use in the garden and as container plants. In addition to show you pictures of the colorful Vireyas at home in New Guinea with all of their varying shaped flowers. Many of these are fragrant, offering another challenge to the breeder who would like to get a colorful, compact, carnation-scented bush for use in home and garden.
We will also have experts who have observed the Japanese, Chinese, and Himalayan species in the wild and will be of immense help when it comes to you growing them in your garden. The Maddenii species which do so well in our climate will also be a feature of one of our sessions.
Another session will stress the art of composting and mulching and will also go into the matter of pathogens which plague rhododendrons. If you have a problem which is obvious in the foliage, bring a few leaves, possibly our experts can give you an answer which will improve your plants and your feelings toward them. The New Zealand and Australian breeders have been busy for many years, yet we still see too few of the plants they produce. We will hope to remedy this by having experts from both of these countries tell you what they have been doing.
We're planning garden tours each morning and, for those interested, a combined nursery and wine country tour in Sonoma county. By the time the January quarterly is in your hands we'll have definite times for the whole program. In the meantime make your plans to visit the City by the Golden Gate in Spring, 1981.