JARS v60n3 - ARS Western Regional Fall Conference: Rhododendrons Around the World

ARS Western Regional Fall Conference: Rhododendrons Around the World
September 22 24, 2006

Our speakers are all experts in their own fields but have been recruited not only because of their knowledge and passion but more especially because of their oratorical skills and humour.

Des Kennedy
Our keynote speaker for the Saturday Evening Banquet is Des Kennedy, and he has entitled his talk " Passionate Encounters in the Garden " which you can be assured will prove to be humourous and provocative. Des and his wife, Sandy, have lived on Denman Island for more than thirty years where they built their own home and then cleared the surrounding brush to develop their garden. Des has earned an international reputation as a writer for his humourous and irreverent publications which include his first book Living Things We Love to Hate and his second book Crazy about Gardening . Des also has several novels to his credit and has appeared on many TV shows and documentaries. His accolades include being described as "one of the best gardening writers in Canada". He is exceptionally talented and knowledgeable but his very special gift is to bring humour to his passion.

Steve Hootman
Steve needs no introduction to rhodo enthusiasts. He is an internationally acclaimed and successful plant explorer, Co-Director of the Rhododendron Species Foundation and a world recognized rhododendron expert. He is a gifted speaker who exudes enthusiasm and passion. His presentation on Friday evening will address " Rhododendrons in the Wild ." On Sunday morning Steve will again enlighten and enthrall us with the topic " Frolicking Among the Species, Aristocrats and Tramps ."

Dalen & Lori Bayes
Dalen & Lori are truly international citizens. They reside in Washington State but for the past thirty-five years have spent almost every summer exploring the wilderness of the Canadian Northwest Territories by canoe. They are members of both the Komo Kulshan Chapter where they are recipients of the ARS Bronze Medal, and also the Fraser South Chapter. Dalen has the unique experience of being president of an ARS Chapter on both sides of the international border. Their talk is entitled " In Search of Arctic Rhododendrons " and will highlight their canoeing adventures in the wilderness of the North among the wildflowers, wildlife and waterfalls of the Hanbury and Thelon Rivers.

Colleen Forster
Colleen is a professional horticulturist with an encyclopedic knowledge of companion plants. Her talk is entitled " Romancing the Rhodo-Perfect Partners for All Seasons " and will be a "hands on" discussion demonstrating various plants to compliment any rhodo garden for shade, ground cover and all year interests. Colleen's articles have appeared regularly in " The Yak " and have also been published in the ARS Journal. Her enthusiasm and reverence for plants will become readily apparent. Colleen advises that her greatest pleasure is "just to produce lots of nice plants that go to good homes and nice gardens."

Glen Jamieson
Glen graduated in Agriculture but for the past twenty-nine years has been a research scientist with the Fisheries and Oceans Department for the Government of Canada. Glen has traveled widely in Central and South America and Asia. Glen's initial focus was on orchids but since 1999 he has redirected his attention to vireyas and probably has one of the largest collections in Canada. He was a participant in the RSF based study group to Yunnan in 2005. Glen's talk is entitled " Vireyas - The Natural Progression of a Rhodoholic ." Glen is an articulate, organized presenter and you can be assured that his presentation will be well organized and thoroughly researched.

Don Martyn
Don is a energetic former school principal with multiple talents and interests. He has a keen interest in all outdoor activities and has a large garden in the Fraser Valley where he has a diverse collection of plants. He has a particular interest in rhododendron species, magnolias and exotic maples. Don will chair the " Hybridizer's Round Table " on Sunday morning where he will highlight some of the contributions made by Canadian hybridizers. Our purpose will be to laugh a little, share a lot and leave with some new friends and some new thoughts for our next crosses.

Charlie Sale
Charlie's presentation is entitled " What Can Be Learned from the Gardens of New Zealand and Tasmania ." Charlie is a retired, successful business proprietor who has been gardening for more than fifty years. He is a past president of the Toronto Chapter of the ARS and formerly a District 12 Director. Charlie is a present and past board member of many garden organizations both in Ontario and British Columbia and is presently an active member of the Friends of the Garden at UBC. He is presently assisting (!) his wife Margaret with their two acres of garden on a steep mountainside in North Vancouver where they grow over 200 species of rhododendrons and 150 rhododendron hybrids. They also have a special passion for alpines and other native plants. Charlie's humour and enthusiasm are infectious and his presentations awe inspiring.

David Sellars
Dave is a professional civil engineer with special expertise in water resources and flood control. It is of no surprise that he has used these skills in his own garden to build a magnificent rock wall complete with a detailed water feature. In addition to his many other accomplishments he is an award winning photographer. Dave's passion for rhododendrons likely had their roots in childhood where he grew up close to Windsor Great Park and his earliest memories are of the Punch Bowl in the Valley Gardens which has arguably been described as the finest rhododendron garden in the world. He is an avid mountaineer and during recent years has developed a keen interest in alpines. He is a past President of FSRS. Dave's presentation is entitled " Rhododendron Gardens of England " and will include recollections of his visits to Exbury, Leonardslee and Caerhays Castle. However, his main focus will be on the " Valley Gardens and the UK Rhododendron Species Collection on High Flyers Hill ."

Norma Senn
Norma has been the Director of the U.C.F.V. Department of Agricultural Technology at the Chilliwack campus for the past fifteen years. In this capacity, she has traveled extensively throughout the world and, in particular, to Vietnam and China. Her talk is entitled " Coast Gardens of the Pacific Northwest, Walking in the Sasquatch Footsteps ." a topic about which she is most enthusiastic. She is actively involved in the B.C. Master Gardeners programme and in the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation. She is past president of the FSRS. She has a wonderfully charismatic presence and is a talented photographer.

Spirit Tour A & D: Harrison Lake Tour
The Harrison Lake Boat Tour leaves from the dock located directly in front of the resort. The vessel is a double-decked marine certified vessel and conducted by a MOT certified licensed captain. The two hour trip will explore the banks and islands of the Harrison Lake which extend for a total length of almost 48 miles and bordered by the steep slopes of the surrounding mountains and is subject, at times, to gusts of winds up to 40 mph and choppy waves of 3-4 feet. The cruise will circumnavigate Echo Island and through the inside passage of the Cascade peninsula to observe Rainbow Falls. Along the rocky banks are many ancient artifacts. The Fraser River, Harrison River and Harrison Lake provided an important link for native peoples between the Coast and the interior of B.C. long before the first white prospectors arrived. The route was also used by the early gold rush seekers traveling to the Fraser Canyon and Caribou Trail to the gold fields further north. The vessel is fully equipped and has washroom facilities. Refreshments will be served on board. The cruise provides a unique opportunity to experience the spectacular scenery of this region and to learn about the history of the first nations people and the early settlers and gold rush explorers. The experience is awe-inspiring and should not be missed.

Spirit Tour B: Bridal Veil Falls/Minter Gardens
The route to Bridal Veil Falls is a short, picturesque, 15-minute coach ride with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. Shortly after leaving Harrison Hot Springs, the coach will pass the Agassiz Agricultural Research Station on the east side of the road and a commercial hazelnut farm on the west right side. After traveling through the town of Agassiz we cross the Rosedale Bridge over the mighty Fraser River. This was formerly the site of the historic Rosedale Chilliwack ferry. The falls are located at the base of Mt. Cheam towering 2,107 meters (6,910 ft) high. The falls are located in a 32 hectare provincial park and are the sixth highest falls in Canada. The falls drop l22 meters (400 ft) over a smooth rock face, creating a veil like effect. Access to the falls from the parking lot is along an easy trail through magnificent old growth Western red cedar ( Thuja plicata ) and Douglas fir ( Pseudotsuga menziesii ).
Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park is located at the site of the ancient village of Popkum which has settlement records dating back to the 1700's. Popkum is a first nations word meaning "puff ball" (Subphylum Basidiomycotina ), a plant which grows abundantly in the area. The run-off from the falls flows into Bridal Creek which passes through the park and under the freeway into the Cheam Lake Regional Nature Park and then onto the Fraser River. The Cheam Lake and surrounding wetlands have become an important site for the conservation and preservation of water fowl and a diverse variety of wildlife. The coach will depart from the falls for a short drive (l0 minutes) to the internationally renowned Minter Gardens located on 32 acres with a spectacular mountain back drop. The garden has eleven "themed" gardens, each one distinct and providing a variety of colour, design and fragrance. A visit to the lake garden and observing the reflections and also to the Penjing Rock bonsai in the Chinese Garden should not be missed. The roses, late season perennials and annual flower displays will still be at their best in September. The pathways are paved and easy to walk. Be sure to see the "Wall of Water" feature. The visit will conclude with an opportunity to enjoy a variety of wines from some of British Columbia's world renowned wineries. The return journey to the resort will take about 15 minutes and you will arrive in plenty of time to relax prior to the featured conference buffet dinner.

Spirit Tour C: Ferncliff Gardens/Westminster Abbey/X:Ytem
The route to Mission hugs the north shore of the Fraser River for about 25 miles and affords magnificent, panoramic views across the water to the mountains in the South. Travelling east on this highway in the morning will often reveal spectacular sunrises as the sun appears over Mt. Cheam and reflects off the Fraser River. In the evening, traveling west, the sunsets are unbelievable with views often across the ocean to Vancouver Island. The highway passes by the historic town of Kilby and nearby is the newly restored Rowena's Inn and Sandpiper Golf Course. The journey continues through the small communities of Deroche and then Dewdney following the course of the Fraser River. On the approach to Mission the bell tower of Westminster Abbey stands magnificently at the top of a knoll, elevation 180 meter (560 ft). The tour begins at Ferncliff Gardens which is a well known commercial dahlia, peony, gladiola and iris nursery with sales throughout the world. The fields of dahlias at this time, will be in full bloom and at their best. Orders can be taken for dispatch throughout North America. A short distance from the nursery lies the remains of a large aboriginal village that once existed about 9,000 years ago and was inhabited by the ancestors of today's St:lo people who lived at various sites along the banks of the Fraser River. The remains of the village that once existed here now form part of X:Ytem (pronounced Hay-tum) and is now the site of intensive activity by university archeologists. Many thousand of artifacts have been discovered and provide insight into the lives of those who once lived there. The focal point of X:Ytem is an enormous rock which is believed to have important significance in St:lo spirituality. At the Longhouse Interpretive Centre there are demonstrations of Salish weaving, cedar bark processing and the use of plant materials for a variety of purposes. Participants will be offered the special privilege of bannock, smoked salmon and tea. The return journey to the Harrison Resort will take about 30 minutes and provide plenty of time on our arrival at the resort to refresh prior to the featured conference buffet dinner.

The Sasquatch
The village of Harrison Hot Springs is known around the world as the home of "The Sasquatch." The name is attributed to John W. Burns, an official living on the Chehalis Indian Reservation on the Harrison River, to describe a huge, hair covered upright walking creature known to the Chehalis people. Footprints of the creature were found in 1991 at Ruby Creek a few miles east of Harrison Hot Springs and since then there have been several sightings including one in the Sasquatch Park and a couple right in the village. The Sasquatch is believed to be located in two primary areas: one is in Mystery Valley on the west side of Harrison Lake 20 miles north of the village; the other on Morris Mountain on the west side of the Harrison River, just north of the Chehalis Reserve. It would be helpful if sightings made by members of the ARS could be documented on digital imaging so that they can be added to the archives!