JARS v55n3 - From the President

From the President
H. Edward Reiley
Woodsboro, Maryland

I come aboard as your new president with ideas of things I would like to achieve. Being a retired educator, my major emphasis will be in distributing more educational materials to our membership and to all gardeners interested in rhododendrons and even some who don't yet think they are interested.

To stir interest among the gardening public we must first show them what is available in the genus Rhododendron . This can most effectively be done by establishing display gardens in public places. Within these gardens we must display the newer proven performers with colors and shapes the average gardener has never seen before. Hopefully these exciting new plants, along with handouts from the ARS, will bring interested persons to the ARS for more information about where to find these plants and how to successfully grow them. Turn them on to the plants and it will be much easier to turn them on to the ARS.

I did an interest survey through our District Directors more than a year ago. The results were twelve groups who were interested in starting display gardens or already had one. It appears the interest is there, but the most difficult part is in maintenance of these gardens. Plans and commitment will need to be formed and carried out if success is to result. Large public gardens with existing maintenance staff are good choices.

In order to help support this and other ARS activities, we will need additional funds. To aid in securing funds I am, with the help of Dee Daneri, setting up a Fund Development Committee. This committee, composed of experts in the area of fund development, will solicit grants, contributions, etc., to fund special projects, as we did with the brochures and plant tags, as well as build our Endowment Fund so its earnings will be available to continue to fund projects as well as to supplement the general fund in years of shortages. I am excited about the quality and expertise of committee members we are pursuing. If they all come aboard great things can happen. Sounds like an ambitious endeavor, but with your support we can accomplish these goals and I think we will.

Another interest of mine is establishment of a Rhododendron of the Year Program, where we will select one plant each of lepidote, elepidote, evergreen azalea, and deciduous azalea. We have established seven geographic regions in the US. We hope Canada, Scotland and other off-shore countries will join us in this endeavor. Rhododendron of the Year will be chosen from the proven performers lists already in-hand. I have asked Len Miller and Laura Kentala to head up this committee and the first selections for Rhododendron of the Year have been made. The hope is to have these plants described, along with pictures, in as many horticultural magazines as possible. This aspect will involve our Publicity Committee and will give the ARS free exposure to many gardeners.

Two years from now we will see what progress has been made on these projects. In the interim I will be doing my best to see that these goals are met or at least started. Two years is a short time to complete longterm projects. With your help we can do much to improve the ARS and the impact it will have on the horticultural world. Thanks for your support.