From the Executive Director
When will a late-summer bloomer and an early-spring bloomer appear at the same truss show? Across the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, the January landscape of white nakedness conceals the miraculous life beneath. Many a gardener has meticulously stuffed the garden treasures with straw and chips, which may now be covered with those white igloos of protection. Is it the winter fire that says, "Now we will redesign the garden"?
A bit further to the south we don't nestle anything in straw and chips, as this more temperate climate leaves all of our plants at the mercy of the elements. There's no chance of survival if an unusual winter chill freezes the rhododendrons and azaleas which can't tolerate temperatures below the unpredictable lows.
Even further south, the Maddenii people gloat over the promise of beautiful sweet smelling gems which are marginal for the garden at OARS and generally verboten north of the California border. Not so very long ago there was much correspondence concerning just how much information about these plants should be included in the Journal, because few of our members could grow them. All around the Pacific Rim, and into acid soils of the Mediterranean climates, to about 40 degrees latitude on both sides of the equator, there are quite a number of people who can not only grow them but need to know about our Society.
In recent years we've learned to tolerate those people who can raise fragrant exquisite rhododendrons, unavailable to the rest of us, but now our tolerance level must once again be tested. They call themselves the "vireya people." With the help of climates such as Borneo, Hawaii, Florida, and other areas of tropical distinction, our family is finding yet another dimension of study. This office is sworn to secrecy, but just between you and me, we have a member who lives in Massachusetts and now has an e mail address for his winter home, starting with "vireya" - uh oh!
No doubt in the next millennium we will welcome the Antarctica Chapter and the Equator Chapter. Meanwhile, more and more of the classic "orangeries" (aka sunroom or conservatory) are becoming homes for the magnificent vireya, maddenia, and other friends which can't survive the winter outside in our northern and southerly most gardens.
The work and expansion of the Society is never-ending. Who will be the first to create a vireya flower with the fragrance of 'Mi Amor', on a multiple 'Lem's Cameo' truss, with Dexter hardiness? When it's ready, please send one to OARS for observation.
And just a word about how we share our Society with others - EACH ONE, REACH ONE - HOW? JUST ASK! This is the 1999 motto of our membership chairman Mike Stewart and his capable committee associate Ann Clack. Please help all of our members and communities realize the valuable work of the American Rhododendron Society. Does your local library have a membership in the American Rhododendron Society? You could make it happen!
Whether you live in New Guinea or Manitoba, it's the time of year to welcome new members as our season of magic begins to unfold in the Northern Hemisphere; and in the Southern Hemisphere, maybe some of those late summer bloomers are still hanging on.
See you in Bellevue!
Office of the American Rhododendron Society OARS - Rowing for You!