JARS v52n1 - Western Regional Conference

Western Regional Conference
Chuck Miller
Eureka, California

The De Anza and Monterey Bay chapters graciously hosted the Western Regional Conference in San Jose, Calif., Oct. 10-12.

The Hakone Japanese Garden in Saratoga is a wonder of plant material, oriental symbolism and building construction. Each building has a specially selected view from a typical Japanese verandah. The steep hillside views are of traditional Japanese garden plants, trees and garden ornaments as well as indigenous plants and trees. Many will visit again with notebooks and more time to roam the quiet elegant space.

Betty Spady led a discussion of the new electronic newsletter and Monterey Chapter led a discussion of gardens on the Web. The computer and computer applications were a hotter topic than compost and the application of compost!

Ken Cox was available to sign the book Encyclopedia of Rhododendron Species that he and his dad have produced. After selling and signing the books he took us on a comfortable armchair visit "Around the Tsangpo Gorges of S.E. Tibet." The photography of the rhodies, alpine plants and trees was almost as beautiful as the photos of the mountains and gorges. There were some attendees who were ready to try the rigors of a trek at elevations above 12,000 feet; snow, stolen toilet tent, wind, broken down trucks (in the middle of a river crossing) and tents that are placed according to the location of the rocks on the slopes. Others will look forward to the mail, the ARS Journal and photographs.

Tom Nuccio of Nuccio's Nursery had all of us interested in "Azaleas: Big, Small and In-Between"; even Herb Spady, our past ARS president and species enthusiast, found that Tom's talk was entertaining and informative.

E. White Smith talked about "Vireyas Around the World" and got many interested in subscribing to White's Vireya Vine newsletter. Vireyas require special culture and conditions that can be met by some enthusiasts outdoors in California and Hawaii while most vireya lovers require greenhouses.

Eleanor Philp gave another of her very informative "Rhododendron Photography" talks. I have learned so much from Eleanor that I feel that my own picture taking has improved. Each time she has new ideas and techniques to share about lighting, film selection, time of day and F stops.

Jan Moyer shone a new light on the subject of garden lighting. Did you know that redwood trees look lovely lit from below while Magnolia grandiflora looks dead, but light it from above and it looks beautiful? Jan said that she uses mostly 20-watt lights and buys fixtures for a 20-year lifetime, which precludes most of the "local" sources.

Dick Mahoney of Strybing shared his knowledge of propagation. So those who attended will be sure to have a few more pots around for their "dragee" to water.

Attendees visited Howard Oliver's garden to see magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons in pots and in the ground in a lovely suburban lot. Howard also has willing neighbors who participate in his garden experiments. Barbara Wohl's garden is a Tasha Tudor cottage garden of passion and exuberance. There was not one rhody, but no one grumbled!

The banquet speaker was Paul Martin, the witty and warmly entertaining head gardener at Exbury. Those who have visited Exbury were marking their calendars for a repeat visit. Those who have yet to be, so lucky were in awe of the beauty and color one can get onlý at Exbury.

Don Wallace hosted the Hyridizer's Roundtable where sex and the single flower was the topic of conversation. Ken Cox shared his knowledge of species identification with those who have lost the tags from their plants.

The book and plant sale seemed to be a magnet for all the in-between times, and even the Walshes, who have no room, found a few adoptee plants and space for just one more book.

The only negative aspect of this conference was the lack of support and attendance. Even local chapters that were 45 minutes away failed to attend. The old adage is very true: "If you don't use it, you will lose it." Let's hope the next Western Regional is better supported.

Conventions are really fun even for rhodoholics and dragees alike. Rhody people are interesting, friendly and welcoming. Congratulations to De Anza and Monterey Bay for a job well done!