JARS v42n2 - President's Column - Spread The Word

President's Column - Spread The Word
Harold E. Greer, Eugene, Oregon

It is now the flowering season for our favorite plant, the rhododendron. It is a time of flower shows and garden tours, a time when our membership has a chance to enjoy the fruits of our gardens and those of our gardening friends. How fortunate it is that we have an American Rhododendron Society, the result of all of your efforts, that can make these events possible for our membership's enjoyment, and for the education and pleasure of the outside world. This is a good time to think of spreading the news about rhododendrons to our gardening friends and the public at large. If the ARS is to grow, it must interest more people in the plants we value so highly. So, go out and spread the word. Remember, we are an educational organization. While part of our reason for being is our enjoyment of these beautiful plants and the cultivation of friendships with those that enjoy rhododendrons and azaleas, another reason for being is to educate others about these plants.

Speaking of spreading the word, it has been a pleasure to see the growing life in our publicity committees, both at the national level and at the local chapter level. Much thanks should go to Betty Spady, the chairman of the National Publicity Committee for her service and leadership. But, she could not have done it alone. It is the enthusiasm and help of those in the chapters that make it possible.

Recently, I received a copy of the ARS Seed Exchange catalog. What a list it is, with over 1700 entries! We are lucky as ARS members to have access to such a great source of rhododendrons. We need to thank those that make it possible, including about 175 contributors from around the world. But, most of all we need to thank our past president, Bill Tietjen, for all the work he does to keep the seed exchange program going, what a thankless task! If you aren't taking advantage of the seed program, I encourage you to do so.

What else can your rhododendron society do for you? Your officers and directors are there to serve you and we would be pleased to hear your ideas. Our doors are always open to listen to your input. It has been a special pleasure for me to visit and speak to many chapters during this first year of my term, and each time I have felt a special contagious warmth of friendship from the members. Let's just spread this feeling to our gardening friends and we can have a membership of 10,000 by 1991. It is going to be work, but enjoyable work, and we need all of you to make it happen! You will find that the more you put into the ARS, the more enjoyment you will get from it.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the convention in Williamsburg this May. Please feel free to come up and say "hello" to me and any of the officers or directors. We would be pleased to meet you. This convention promises to be the largest and best convention yet. It is an event you won't want to miss. Austin Kennell and the entire Mid Atlantic Chapter deserve compliments and thanks for the tremendous amount of work they have done.

Yes, we're fortunate to be a part of a great group of people who love rhododendrons. But, I have a dream I'd like to mention, that one day the American Rhododendron Society, the Canadian Rhododendron Society, the Pacific Rhododendron Society, and the Azalea Society of America could join as one organization. Each could have their individual chapters and events as they do now. But with the increased total membership a journal put out by this expanded organization could be enlarged to include sections of information for each group, for the benefit of all. This is not a proposal to take over other groups and have them lose their identity, but an attempt through greater membership to offer much more for all who enjoy rhododendrons and azaleas.

So, let's go out and spread the news about rhododendrons and azaleas. You'll be spreading joy for all!