From the President
At this writing, Jane and I have just returned from a week in Washington State, at the annual convention of the American Rhododendron Society in Tacoma. This was the sixteenth consecutive annual meeting I have had the pleasure of attending. Over those years, I've developed an increasing awareness (fostered in no small part by my involvement in the planning of two of these events) of the tremendous amount of time and energy which it takes to stage an ARS convention. Thanks to the dedication, enthusiasm and varied talents of our members, however, there seems to be no lack of these essential ingredients.
The Tacoma meeting was a first-rate affair, well-organized and well-staffed. Participants were treated to an array of outstanding speakers from the east, west and overseas, tours of some of the finest garden in the Northwest, handsome displays of blooming plants in both the hotel and convention center lobbies, and a Brobdingnagian plant sale full of irresistible bargains. There were also an impressive truss show and a memorable photo exhibition to demonstrate the horticultural and photographical skills of our members; there was a section devoted to book sales, which even included a newly published cookbook to demonstrate their culinary skills! Above all, there were interesting, friendly people everywhere, eager to help and to share information on the plants of our favorite genus.
In such an undertaking there are bound to be some minor mishaps; it is greatly to the credit of this convention's organizers that, if indeed these did occur, they were not apparent to the vast majority of the convention-goers. One notable exception, however, must be mentioned: on the tour of Warren Berg's garden in Port Ludlow, the tour bus became mired in a gully and had to be extricated by tow truck, an event which was greeted enthusiastically by the touring party, since it gave us an extra half-hour to explore that fabulous place!
Convention goers observe
R. quinquefolium in Marshall
Majors' garden, Bainbridge
Our hosts, the chapters of District 3, deserve a standing ovation for their efforts in producing this affair. Many members contributed towards its success; I'm sure some members' spouses and friends did also, cajoled into doing a stint in one of the various assignments. And this brings me to a most important observation: these people were enjoying what they were doing! Sure, there was a lot of hard work involved, but one could tell they were having fun doing it. And after it was all over, I'll bet each of them felt a tremendous satisfaction in being part of a successful team effort.
The moral (being a Yankee, I have to find a moral in everything) is this: become involved. Don't wait for your chapter to host a national convention; there are plenty of other opportunities in the various chapter activities. And don't wait to be asked - volunteer; your chapter leaders will be only too happy to welcome another pair of helping hands. Non-chapter members can get in the act too - send some seed to the Seed Exchange, pollen to the Pollen Bank, an article to the Journal. You'll find, as I have, that the knowledge you gain and the friends you make are well worth the effort.
And if you've never been to a national meeting of the ARS, don't miss next year's convention in Asheville. Our Southeastern Chapter members are busy planning an outstanding program in the mountains of North Carolina (and word has it that their goal is to outdo District 3, the hosts of this year's meeting!).
In closing, the service of Gordon Wylie as our president for the past two years should not go unmentioned. Gordon took on the job on short notice, and has ably led the Society through a difficult period in its growth. I believe I speak for the Board, and indeed the entire membership, when I say, "thanks, Gordon." My job will be all the easier because of his efforts on behalf of the Society.