JARS v56n3 - Have You Explored the ARS Web Site Lately?

Have You Explored the ARS Web Site Lately?
Diane, Emily and Bob Weissman
Mountain View, California

Wouldn't it be nice if:

  • One could quickly generate a list of white-flowering rhodies that are low growing.
  • There was as an easy way to look up the parents of your favorite rhododendron hybrid.
  • You could order seed from the ARS seed exchange on-line.
  • There was a convenient way to find the e-mail address of a fellow ARS member.

Now all of these things are available at the Society's web site using a few clicks of your computer mouse. If you, a friend, or your local library has internet access take advantage of the updated and expanded features provided at the ARS web site. Point your computer internet browser to www.rhododendron.org to see the wide range of information available on-line.

Looking for a useful glossary of plant terms? Want to take a virtual tour of the major rhododendron gardens of the world? Want to know how to publish an article in the Journal ARS? Searching for the date and place for the next ARS convention? Need forms to apply for a research grant from the Research Foundation? The Society web site, www.rhododendron.org, can help you with all of these things. Perhaps you don't have a specific need in mind, but just like to browse. Take a look and you'll surely discover something to inspire and educate you at www.rhododendron.org.

Webmasters Bob Weissman and Don Smart have given the web site a new look and have added considerable additional content over the past year. Assisted by members of the Electronic Media Committee (EMC), including Chairman Dick Gustafson, Dick Brooks, Jack Root, Bud Gehnrich and others, the web site has become one of the top visited internet gardening sites.

Every month the Society's public web site receives more than 10,000 visits from gardeners around the world. Not surprisingly, the on-line plant database is one of the most frequently accessed site features. Descriptions are given for more than 1,200 rhododendrons including both species and hybrids. Over the past year the descriptions have been revised and hundreds of additional rhododendrons were added to the database. Jay and Bob Murray are thanked for their assistance with the update. What makes the web site's list especially valuable and truly unique is the on-line search capability, where plants that match specific criteria can be quickly found. For instance, if seeking red-flowered hybrids that bloom midseason, that are 4 feet high in ten years, and that are hardy to at least –10°F, simply select these parameters via an easy to use menu and in seconds obtain a plant list that includes named hybrids such as 'Fireman Jeff', 'Flirt', 'Gertrude Schale', and 'Sumatra'. Interested in finding information for a plant you bought at your chapter meeting? Type in the plant name in the search menu to obtain a full description, including bloom time, hardiness temperature, flower, foliage and plant habit information. Want to know who created the rhododendron hybrid 'Taurus' and what its parentage is? Searching for the taxonomy of over 700 species? This information can be quickly found at the rhododendron.org web site.

Proven Performer lists complied by the Society's Public Education Committee are available at the ARS web site, and are frequently accessed by web site visitors. The lists are organized by district and by chapters within each district. These lists can be easily down loaded and printed for use as handouts by chapters at local shows and plant sales.

A major program currently is underway to acquire photo images for all of the hybrids and species shown at the web site. The goal is to present high quality images along with the text description. EMC members are working to obtain photos, to convert images to digital formats and to create the required programs needed to store and display images on the web. The webmasters are providing the technical expertise for the photo feature. Much thanks to Eleanor Philp who is donating her large collection of 35 mm slides for this purpose. Other Society members with high-caliber photo collections (slides or digital images) are encouraged to contact Dick Gustafson at rhodiegus@aol.com to help with this effort.

Attracting substantial interest at the Society's web site is the new "Where to Buy" feature. A searchable list with over 400 rhododendron nurseries is now available at rhododendron.org. The list contains both retail and wholesale growers. One can search the list by the nursery or grower's name, by state or province, country or by telephone area code to create a list for a specific geographical region. For example, searching on Georgia nurseries currently brings up a list of sixteen growers in that state. Select New Zealand in the "Search by Country" list and twenty-one New Zealand nurseries are shown. Links to web sites are also provided when available. The goal is to create a list of rhododendron and azalea nurseries as comprehensive as possible so we would like to know of any suppliers that are missing or any information that needs updating. The information should be e-mailed to weissman@arsoffice.org .

For beginners, the ARS web site provides a comprehensive care guide about how to grow rhododendrons and azaleas. Plenty of practical advice is supplied, including plant selection tips, planting and pruning instructions, fertilizing know-how and disease and insect control information. In addition, selected articles from past issues of the Journal ARS are now available on-line that provide helpful "how-to" information for both beginners and experienced gardeners.

Looking for articles published in the Journal ARS (JARS) over the past ten years? The ARS web site contains the complete JARS index for the period 1991-2000. The index is searchable just like the on-line card catalog at your local library. Type in a keyword, author's name, plant name, etc., and retrieve a bibliography of relevant articles with just a mouse click. In addition to feature articles, the index contains references to hybrids and species, rhododendron publications and Society information. Site users can also find highlights from the forthcoming issue of JARS as provided by the editor, Sonja Nelson, and learn how to publish an article in the Journal. Members are encouraged to pass along reports about member activities and to make known their ideas and opinions about Society issues via the on-line "Letter to the Editor" feature that is available postage free at www.rhododendron.org.

The ARS web site has proven to be an effective vehicle for attracting new members to the Society. On-line sign-up is convenient to use and is available 24 hours per day year round. Secure server capabilities allow use of credit cards for new membership enrollment. Last year folks from twenty different U.S. states and 10 foreign countries joined the Society via the web. Potential new members can also access information about chapter meetings, chapter contact information and find links to local chapter web sites at the ARS web site. Please let us know about your chapter meetings if it is not yet available at www.rhododendron.org.

If you need an e-mail address of a Society officer, district director or fellow member rhododendron.org provides ready access to this information. The list contains many hundreds of members, and others are encouraged to add their e-mail addresses to the list. On-line self-registration is provided for both initial sign-up and for updating e-mail changes. The e-mail address list at the ARS web site is intentionally maintained separate from the membership records kept at the Society office. Changing your e-mail address at the ARS web site does not update your record kept at the Society headquarters. So if you have a new e-mail address please change it at the web site and also inform Dee Daneri at the Society office about the change. A convenient to use "fill-in" form is provided at the ARS web site that can be used to communicate a new e-mail address to the Society office.

Hopefully we have enticed you to visit www.rhododendron.org to see all of the useful features available on-line. New easy to use menus make it simple to find information and to navigate around the web site. If you have never visited give it a try. Past visitors are encouraged to return as content is frequently updated. We encourage everyone to add www.rhododendron.org to their favorites or bookmark lists!

Note: In addition to the website www.rhododendron.org, described above, the Society has two other web sites. These are the Rhododendron and Azalea News web site (URL: members.aol.com/RandANews/news.htm ) and Office of the American Rhododendron Society (OARS) web site (URL: www.arsoffice.org ). Rhododendron and Azalea News, maintained by Betty and Herb Spady, has articles about gardens, events, people, books, and local activities gathered from ARS chapter newsletters and other member sources. The OARS web site provides Society chapter presidents, treasurers, membership chairmen and newsletter editors with valuable and up-to-date information, such as chapter rosters, monthly financial reports, speakers bureau lists and membership renewal forms. Society officers, directors and committee chairpersons can also access important reference materials including board meeting agendas and minutes. At the OARS web site passwords are used to protect personal information. All three of the Society web sites are linked together and can be accessed by the "click of a mouse". So next time you are browsing the internet have a look at all the great information available at the Society's web sites.

Diane, Emily and Bob Weissman are members of the De Anza Chapter.