JARS v47n4 - From the President

From the President
Dick Brooks
Concord, Massachusetts

As I write, in early August, this is turning out to be a summer of extremes: record rainfall in the Midwest, record heat and drought in the East, and 90-degree temperatures even in Seattle. How will our plants respond to these latest manifestations of a capricious and sometimes violent climate? And perhaps more importantly, how will we growers respond?

With respect to the first query, the excellent article "Concerning the Origin and Distribution of Rhododendrons" in the summer issue of the Journal provided some interesting observations. It appears that rhododendrons have been present on our planet for some 50 million years. Undoubtedly, during those eons, they have been subjected to many cycles of less than favorable growing conditions: drought, heat, flooding, crustal upheavals, glaciation. The weaklings succumbed; others, through adapive strategies or inherent toughness, managed to endure. The selection process continues today, and as we survey our losses, we can console ourselves with the knowledge that those of our plants which survived the summer of 1993 are better equipped to deal with the next onslaught of seemingly fickle nature.

I believe that most rhododendron growers are a similarly resilient lot. We must have in our makeup a little of that stoicism and fortitude which I've admired in those who have lost homes and crops to the disastrous Mississippi floods. We suffer losses and setbacks in our plants philosophically, buoyed by the hope that better times lie ahead, and that one of these years will bring the perfect spring—no frost, no petal blight, and prize-winning trusses on every plant!

To close on an upbeat note, I've observed at least one beneficial side effect of the heat and drought here in the Northeast: bud set is abundant, and bodes well for an exuberant display next spring. Perhaps plants, like people, need a little stress to bring out the best in them!