JARS v39n1 - Seattle in 1985

Seattle in 1985
Bob and Marge Badger, General Chairmen

May is the month to be in Seattle for all who love and grow rhododendrons and azaleas for the enjoyment of their fabulous flowers and foliage. Be sure to mark your calendars for May 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 1985. These dates mark an American Rhododendron Society Convention of unusual importance for everyone.

Red Lion Hotel, Bellevue, WA
Red Lion Inn in Bellevue, Wash.,
site of Annual Rhododendron Convention

The Convention will be held in Bellevue, Washington at the beautiful new Red Lion Motor Inn. A large number of very spacious rooms have been reserved for Society members. Other nearby accommodations can be made available should an overflow occur. This ultra-modern Inn has a main meeting room that can comfortably seat over a thousand attendees. The Red Lion Inn is conveniently located near the main shopping areas of Bellevue, alongside Interstate Highway 405 with easy access to the freeway. Bellevue is the large neighboring city of Seattle just a few miles east, across Lake Washington. A regularly scheduled airporter bus will deliver airline passengers arriving at Seattle-Tacoma Airport directly to the Red Lion Inns door for a very modest fee.

Not since 1961 have Society members been treated to such an outstanding gathering of experts from around the world. They will be arriving from Sweden, Great Britain, Scotland, New Zealand, France, China, Japan and Sikkim to join other speakers from the United States. Speakers who will be presenting programs for the ARS Annual Meeting include Dr. David F. Chamberlain, Taxonomist from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland; Mr. Bjorn Alden, Curator Goteborgs Botaniska Tradgard, Goteborg, Sweden; Mr. A.D. Tony Schilling, Deputy Curator, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, Hayward Heath, West Sussex, England; Mr. Jean Lennon, former Advertising Executive and French African Counsular Official, Retired, collector and grower of rhododendrons in Elliant, in Finistere, Bretagn. His home lies on the Southwest side of the Brittany Peninsula among the rolling hills east of Quimper with the Atlantic Ocean just 9 miles to the south. He collects photographs of French collectors' travels in western China in the late 1800's; Mr. Graham Smith, Curator, Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust, New Plymouth, New Zealand; Mr. Keshab C. Pradham, IAS, Secretary to the Government, Gangtok, Sikkim, India, and his wife Shanti. Keshab is an expert on the forests and plants of Sikkim where he has traveled widely in service to the government.

Dr. Harold B. Tukey, Jr., a world known authority on horticulture has agreed to lead off the reception on Thursday evening. Harold, formerly of Cornell University, is Professor and Director at the Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington in Seattle. This unique University Center was created at the instigation and urging of the many thousands of interested horticulturists, both professional and amateur, here in Washington State. This first in programs has led to Harold's keynote speech at the first World Urban Horticulture meeting this past year. His enthusiasm is boundless.

Other speakers who are expected to participate include, Dr. David Leach, North Madison, Ohio, author, geneticist, and rhododendron hybridizer; Mr. Hideo Suzuki, Saitama-ken, Japan, collector and grower of both species and hybrid rhododendrons; Mr. Bruce Briggs, Olympia, Washington, owner of Briggs Nursery, rhododendron grower and world pioneer in the commercial nursery micro-propagation of new hybrid rhododendrons, deciduous Azaleas and Kalmia latifolia clones. Several other unusually well qualified speakers on rhododendrons are also considering joining the Annual Meeting. It has truly become an American Rhododendron Society Annual Meeting of International importance.

The Pre Convention Tours planned for Wednesday, May 1st and Thursday, May 2nd, will take you to see many fine private gardens in the Seattle and Tacoma area as well as the Rhododendron Species Foundation Garden. The same tour to gardens both South and North will be offered each of the two days so that none of the gardens will be missed.

The South Tour will visit the gardens of Mrs. Corydon Wagner in Tacoma, The Rhododendron Species Foundation Garden in Federal Way and Dr. and Mrs. John Pierce, in Fauntleroy. Mrs. Corydon Wagner's magnificent garden on Gravelly Lake, Southwest of Tacoma, has been a destination of many garden tours to the Northwest, such as those led by Harold Epstein of New York. The nearly ten acre garden was designed with the continuous aid of well known landscape architect, Thomas D. Church, of San Francisco. It features a blending of formal and informal areas and includes masses of very fine, large specimen plants of many rhododendron species and hybrids. This past May it was the featured garden in Architectural Digest magazine. Large native Garry oaks and Douglas firs provide both cover and wind protection.

The Rhododendron Species Foundation Garden has been undergoing an elaborate garden design change these past several years and the Grand Opening of this superb collection will be Sunday, April 28th. Many of the species plants have become of considerable size and bloom with great abandon. It is generally conceded by rhododendron experts that the Rhododendron Species Foundation Garden contains the largest and most complete collection of selected forms of rhododendron and azalea species under cultivation anywhere in the world. It is an extraordinarily interesting display of plants and flowers.

The garden of Dr. and Mrs. John H. Pierce is located at Fauntleroy in Southwest Seattle. It was started, as a garden featuring rhododendrons and azaleas, by Jack's parents, Lawrence and the late Isabel Pierce. Lawrence is a former president of the Seattle Rhododendron Society. He and Isabel specialized in the collection of new Northwest rhododendron hybrids and fine forms of many species. Isabel's wide knowledge of companion plants is well represented in the diversity of fine deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs as well as the superb selection of herbaceous perennial plant material. A real gardener's garden.

The North Tour will include the gardens of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Baird, Jr., Dr. and Mrs. Ned Brockenbrough, both of Bellevue, Mr. and Mrs. Pendleton Miller in the Highlands and Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Jacobson in Seattle. Marge and Hugh Baird's garden is located overlooking a secluded cove of Lake Washington's eastern shoreline, just north of Bellevue. This garden is an expression of the plants-lady, Marge. Many of her garden treasures have been raised from seed or cuttings. She has an especial love of species azaleas and rhododendrons. However, new hybrids are well represented here. She, like most Northwest gardeners specializes in all things horticultural. This garden is a joy to see at any time of the year because of the diversity of material.

Dr. Ned and Jean Brockenbrough's garden is located on Hunts Point on the eastern shore of Lake Washington, not far from Bellevue. Ned is both a former President of the Seattle Rhododendron Society and the American Rhododendron Society. There is no doubt that Ned's gardening activities in rhododendrons was somewhat influenced by his father-in-law, Don McClure. As Don was a searcher for and collector of choice new hybrid rhododendrons, so has been Ned. However, Ned is one of Seattle's best amateur hybridizers with several very choice named clones to his credit. His garden features an extensive display of his own creations and if the timing is right, perhaps his rich, deep yellow 'Nancy Evans' will be in full bloom.

In Northwest Seattle, Betty and Pendleton Miller's large garden is located on a bluff above Puget Sound in the Highlands. It is westward facing, towards the beautiful Olympic Mountain Range and is a one of a kind garden. You enter through the upper garden and it envelopes the home as it follows the slope westwards. An especial mark of this garden is it's creator, Betty. She has designed the garden using numerous quantities of large basalt rocks set in such a manner as to suggest natural native mountain outcrop-pings. Between, among and over this foundation she has populated the garden with a multitude of alpine plants, bulbs and rhododendrons. In special areas are larger rhododendrons and other fine ornamental shrubs and trees. The keen horticulturist will note, in the lower garden, many fine subtropical and Southern Hemisphere plants. And yes, the collector of tropical Vireya rhododendrons may find an outside planting of them, here, in Seattle. Betty is a true plants lady and introducer of fine material.

The garden of Ralph and Ruth Jacobson is located in Northwest Seattle on a south and westward aspect overlooking the Sound and the Olympics above Carkeek Park. They have both been active in the Seattle Chapter for over thirty years. Their uniquely designed garden is best described by the article entitled, "The Garden Path to Art" that Ruth wrote for the 1961 ARS Book, "Rhododendrons For Your Garden." While not large in size, this garden was inspired by their love of Japanese arranging and rhododendrons and azaleas and other choice plants, trees and shrubs. The garden has an "emotional impact" on the beholder even when no blossoms are to be seen. It is a skillfully woven tapestry. Branches become lines to "draw" with. Leaves become textures; rough, smooth, shiny and dull. Their garden is a blend of rhythm, harmony and balance related to the "frame" of the setting. It is so elegant in its style that some say the blossoms are ornaments.

Late Saturday morning after several important events at the hotel, Convention attendees will be transported by bus to the Seattle waterfront where they will board the Harbor Cruise Vessels. You will enjoy lunch on board the boats as they travel through Elliott Bay, past Magnolia Bluff and West Point, into Shilshole Bay and through the Hiram Chittenden Locks, one of the largest in the world. The vessels will tie up outside the locks and the passengers will disembark. Here, you will be treated to an exciting tour of the Carl S. English Gardens where you will see rhododendrons, magnolias, flowering cherries, swamp cypress and palm trees, as well as many other unusual trees and shrubs. A brochure containing a description of the garden and its plant material will be given to each person on the tour. You will also be able to view the passing parade of boats going through the locks as well as the early salmon runs going up the fish ladders past the viewing windows. At the conclusion of the tour through the gardens, you will board busses and be taken to the Arboretum at Washington Park. This park setting was created from its raw state by the great landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. Many of the first selections of horticultural trees were made, then some sixty years ago were boldly planted. Under the care of the University of Washington's Forestry Department and with the aid of many dedicated and enthusiastic amateur and professional plants people, this Arboretum's plant collections were enormously expanded with thousands of forms of plants from all around the world. During the last thirty years the guidance was from the Director, Brian Mulligan, until his retirement, then Professor Joe Witt. It is now under the care of the Center for Urban Horticulture, under Dr. Tukey. It's rhododendron collection numbers in the thousands, both species and hybrids. Many were planted fifty to fifty-five years ago.

Rhododendron species and hybrids such as R. sutchuenense , R. decorum , R. vernicosum , R. calophytum , R. discolor and R. fortunei , the 'Loderi's', 'Naomi's', 'Aladdin' and hundreds more have long since attained the size and shapes of small trees up to thirty feet and more in height with massive trunks. Many R. triflorums , R. cinnabarinums , R. ponticums , R. argyrophyllums and other species have been unable to contain their large shrub habits and obtained the aspect of small many-stemmed trees over fifteen to twenty feet in height. The magnolias are especially fine, the M. campbellii , which blooms in February and March, is trying for sixty or seventy feet in height, while M. sargentiana is nearing fifty feet. Of necessity, this Arboretum Tour will have to be guided, since the site is so large. Seattle Chapter members who have visited the site many, many times over the past twenty years, cannot yet claim to have ever seen all of the rhododendrons, that grow there, in flower. You will re-board the busses and be transported back to the Red Lion Inn in time for the cocktail hour and the American Rhododendron Society Annual Meeting and banquet.

A Post Convention Tour is planned for Sunday, after a short Hybridizers Roundtable, via tour bus and Washington State ferry to the fifty-two acre Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens on Whidbey Island. The property was a gift to the Seattle Chapter by Ann Wright Meerkerk. This beautiful wooded parcel has a unique home, associated outbuildings and its own stream and two large ponds. The property overlooks Holmes Harbor with Mt. Baker in the distance. Between the home and the ponds, are nearly seven acres of fine rhododendron species and hybrids. Many of these plants were of considerable age and size when they were obtained by Ann and her husband Max, in the late 1960's. One plant of 'Aladdin' measures over thirty feet across and nearly as tall. Another cluster of 'Crest' contains three plants each twelve feet tall and about eight feet wide. For the last several years a devoted group of Seattle Chapter members has been establishing a five acre Rhododendron Test Garden, now ready, that has over four hundred new rhododendron and azalea hybrid clones on test. Most of these are fine new Northwest clones, but some will also be new clones submitted from Eastern United States' hybridizers.

During the Convention, a large display of rhododendron and azalea trusses will be held in the lower lobby of the Red Lion, enabling members of the Society who have never been to Seattle to see at first hand, the unusually large number of both species and hybrid rhododendrons and azaleas that are raised by our, and other nearby Chapter members.

The Northwest Rhododendron Hybridizers Group, a Study Group of the Seattle Chapter, will be featuring a fine display of some of their most exotic new rhododendron hybrids. Most, if not all of these, will be blooms that have never before been shown at a public or chapter show. The group's hybridizing members number about forty and are mostly unknown in ARS published reports, but some of their creations range from pure white to apricot-orange, to vivid violet to a deep golden yellow, as well as multi-tone hues.

And, because the first major breakthrough in the micropropagation (tissue culture) of Rhododendrons, occurred in research done by Dr. Wilbur (Andy) Anderson at the Mt. Vernon Research Station here in Western Washington State, a special sale of micro-propagated plants has been arranged for this ARS Convention. The Seattle Chapter takes great pride in having the foresight to have made a contribution to Dr. Anderson's research, helping to make possible his breakthrough. A special room has been set aside for the sale to Convention attendees of newly named clones of rhododendrons, deciduous azaleas, and kalmias. Many large photographs of these new clones will be displayed nearby. For most ARS members, this will be their first time to be able to purchase these fine new beautiful rhododendron and azalea hybrids. Convention attendees should take note that the plant sales room will be closed during sessions of the Convention so as to not interfere with the proceedings. Also please note that the tours on Saturday and Sunday will not conflict with the general sessions. The Photography Group of the Seattle Chapter has been active for several years now and is scheduled to have a special show of rhododendron photographs at the Convention. They have been studying the various color films, composition, creation of programs and the multitude of other factors that affect the quality of rhododendron photography. Their display is eagerly awaited. This exhibit will be in the room immediately adjacent to the plant sale. Most all of the other ARS chapters in the Puget Sound area will have helped and contributed in some manner towards this very unusual gathering for this May 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th, 1985. The Seattle Chapter extends to all of you, its invitation to attend this meeting and share in the conviviality of rhododendron folk from all over the United States, Canada and indeed the world! In May of 1985, Seattle IS in the middle of the finest rhododendron growing area in the world!