JARS v39n3 - Winners in Washington State Centennial Event

Winners in Washington State Centennial Event

The 1989 Washington Centennial Commission endorsed the selection committee's choice of Dr. Frank Mossman's deciduous azalea (Portland Chapter) and Mr. Fred Peste's rhododendron (Shelton Chapter) as unusual, beautiful and suitable for use as a part of their state's centennial celebration in 1989.

Frank's azalea will be known as "Centennial" and Fred's rhododendron will be known as "Centennial Celebration." The committee will seek registration of these names with the American Rhododendron Society. At the appropriate time, these plants will also be planted in a ceremony on the state capitol campus.

The committee is now working to develop the required contracts to allow for speedy propagation and the introduction of the plants in time for the 1989 celebration.

R. Centennial Celebration R. Centennial
The Centennial Celebration Rhododendron - Fred Peste The Centennial Azalea - Frank Mossman

The Centennial Celebration Rhododendron
Dr. Frank Maranville, Shelton, WA

The plant selected is a cross of 'Purple Lace' x R. yakushimanum FCC.

Fred Peste was born in Seattle in 1909 of German parentage, and did not speak English when he started school in Shelton. Fred dropped out of school early and first worked in the woods for a local timber company, then switched to the pulp mill where he rose to foreman and worked shift work. This allowed him to work part time during the days at his own business, raising Christmas trees. Logged off land could be bought for a song during the Depression and he foresightedly bought land, planted Christmas trees and pioneered in fertilized and pruned trees. As soon as he could, Fred left the pulp mill and devoted full time to his own business, becoming one of the major growers in Mason County. Shelton is known as Christmas Town U.S.A. Today Fred's Christmas tree interests have shifted to a partnership in the Noble Mountain Christmas Tree Farm near Salem, Oregon which uses the most modern methods, including harvesting by helicopter, to raise noble firs on over 4000 acres. In 1975 the Northwest Christmas Tree Association presented the Plumb Award to Fred for his services to the Association and the industry. Fred is the only surviving charter member of the Association.

Fred became interested in rhododendrons in the early sixties, in part through his friendship with Bill Whitney, and started hybridizing in 1969. He and Lillian, his wife of 27 years, make about two dozen crosses every year. Four plants are registered: 'Lillian Peste', 'Walt Elliott', 'Party Girl' and 'Dorothy Peste Anderson'. They had 23 acres around their beautifully landscaped home on the edge of Shelton, with approximately 5 acres planted in rhododendrons. Fred had been very active in the Shelton Chapter, having served both as show chairman and as president, and had donated many plants to the Chapter for raffles and for civic plantings. Fred and Lillian were much appreciated for their gracious hospitality in hosting a May potluck Chapter meeting nearly every year for the past thirteen. The accompanying garden tour is the crowning event of the rhododendron season in Shelton. Fred was awarded the Society's Bronze Medal by the Chapter in 1983.

Editor's Note: Fred Peste died April 1985.

The Centennial Azalea
David W. Goheen, Camas, WA

Few persons have shown a keener interest in our western azalea R. occidentale than Frank D. Mossman, M.D. of Vancouver, Washington. Along with his collaborator, Britt Smith, he has prowled the hills of Northern California and Southern Oregon for more than twenty years observing and recording the characteristics and beauty of this azalea.

Thus, it is very fitting that one of his azalea hybrids, [( R. occidentale x R. bakeri ) x 'Santiam'] was selected last year to be named the Centennial azalea. It will be introduced in 1989 along with the Centennial hybrid rhododendron as part of the commemoration of the 1OOth year of statehood for the State of Washington.

In addition to his interest in azaleas, Frank has traveled extensively to many parts of the World, including Borneo and New Guinea, always on the lookout for specimens of the Genus Rhododendron . He has also become an expert on magnolias which he considers the perfect companion plants for rhododendrons and azaleas. He was not always aware of these plants. Few azaleas and rhododendrons can stand the rigors of the climate in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was born some sixty-odd years ago and where he attended school. He was graduated from the University of Nebraska and also received his medical degree from there. In the late 1940's he moved west and set up his medical practice in Vancouver, Washington.

By 1955, he was well established in his specialty, Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat. He and his wife, Doris, had built a home and landscaped it with routine garden plants, including four hardy rhododendrons. During 1955, the bug hit him - one of his patients was Ben Lancaster of Camas, Washington, a few miles up the Columbia River from Vancouver. Ben invited him to visit his garden in Camas and select any plant. His choice was 'Snow Lady' and from then on the Genus Rhododendron had a real champion. Frank hasn't looked back. His contributions to the Genus have been outstanding. Truly, the landscaping around his clinic in Vancouver is unique. Visitors come from great distances in the spring to view his collection of species and hybrids with their magnificent magnolia companions.

Frank has always been a great family man. He has two sons, Frank and Marc, and a daughter, Laurian. He has four brothers in the Midwest with whom he keeps in touch, but who can not lure him back to that non-rhododendron part of the United States except for short visits. Interestingly, the Centennial azalea was slated to be named Laurian in honor of his daughter, but the centennial celebration takes precedence.

This honor could not be given to a more deserving person. Frank has been active in the Portland Chapter of the ARS and has held many offices, including president. He has also received the Gold Medal from the ARS in recognition of the importance of his azalea investigations. It is altogether fitting and proper that his plant was selected for the centennial celebration.