From the President
Herbert A. Spady
Betty and I have been attending various ARS meetings for about 25 years. The recent meeting in Ocean Shores, Wash., stimulated some thoughts.
We have seen a remarkable improvement in the programs over this period of time. One would think that after so many years it would be dull and repetitious to us. Would we not just be hearing the same old material? It might be presented by a different person or in a different format. Not true! Of course some of the material is not new. That is as it should be, as there are always new members anxious to learn the fundamentals. What continues to amaze me is that even in those programs there are always a few new ideas that I find very worthwhile. The post presentation discussions are always stimulating. In addition, the programming seems to have expanded to the periphery of the gardening needs of our members. They have become more problem solving. They include much of the new work that is being done in the nursery industry and academic research.
One of the best attended seminars at the recent conference was the one on electronic media. That is a frontier for the ARS and opens exciting possibilities for us.
The benefits are not limited to the learning experiences. The plant sales are great. They provide an opportunity to pick up new hybrids or unusual species at reasonable costs. Also, the new friend that you make at the meeting may well be the one that can provide you with some of the cuttings that have been on your want list for a long period of time. Then there are those little table favors. They are such small little plants that at first glance do not seem like much. However, they are often new and uncommon plants just coming out of tissue culture. They may look small, but in a few years they becoming vigorous growing plants in your crowded garden. They will soon force you to decide which plant to keep and which to remove.
Last, but certainly not least, is the opportunity to touch base with those friends that you may not have seen for months or even years. Many are people with whom you have worked on various projects and yet because of time or distance constraints you have lost contacts. At these meetings you can learn what is happening elsewhere, what problems other chapters are having and what solutions they have found. You can even provide the solutions that your chapter has found. To communicate is to solve problems.
For those members who have not had the opportunity or inclination to attend the regional conferences or the Society's annual meeting, I would encourage you to do so. Some members complain that they are too expensive. I know that the committees try to keep the cost down and within reason. Many members have found ways to economize on accommodation costs which are often the major expense. Do make an effort to take advantage of these meetings.