JARS v62n4 - Rhododendron Rendezvous in the Pacific Northwest

Rhododendron Rendezvous in the Pacific Northwest
ARS Annual Convention in Everett, Washington, April 30-May 2, 2009
Jeanine Smith
Woodinville, Washington

ARS Spring convention logo

Mark your calendars and get ready for a fabulous rhododendron spring in the beautiful Pacific Northwest! The five chapters of District 2 are hosting the American Rhododendron Society Annual Convention April 30 to May 2, 2009, headquartered at the newly redecorated Holiday Inn in downtown Everett, Washington, thirty minutes north of Seattle. This hotel was completely renovated in 2006 and is conveniently located off I-5, and within walking distance of downtown Everett. Guest amenities include free parking, complimentary hi-speed internet access in all guest rooms, indoor heated pool and hot tub, and espresso stand. The hotel includes the fabulous Pine Street Grille Restaurant and Lounge featuring delectable Northwest cuisine. We invite you to join us for four days of glorious garden tours, scintillating and informative speakers, good food and lots of fun socializing with old and new friends. If that's not enough, there will be raffles, silent auctions, photography and floral truss displays, books and unique gifts for sale, as well as a huge plant sale with over 5,000 of the best rhododendron species and hybrids and tempting companion plants!

Convention hotel in Everett, Washington
The convention hotel in Everett, Washington.
Photo courtesy of the Holiday Inn

On Thursday, April 30, tours are planned to the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden which is the repository of one of the best collections of rhododendron species in the world. Docents will be available in the garden to guide visitors around the beautifully maintained woodland garden. Also there is a stop at the renowned Bellevue Botanical Garden which has been featured in several horticultural publications. In addition to its famous perennial border, there are mature rhododendrons, several water features, and an Asian garden. On Friday, May 1, there will be a tour to Whidbey Island to visit the Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens (featured in the Spring 2008 issue of the ARS Journal). Those taking this tour will be treated to visiting the garden of Frank Fujioka, known for his excellent hybrids and collection of Japanese maples displayed on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound, and the garden of Bill and Mary Stipe who have carved an extensive display garden and nursery out of a woodland property. There will be an alternate tour offered to the private garden of Jeanine and Rex Smith, who have created their three-acre rhododendron garden over a period of thirty years. Since it was on tour in 1999, they have had a pond installed with large granite rocks, as well as a flagstone terrace and paths and new greenhouse. The garden features a large collection of species and hybrid rhododendrons as well as choice trees and companion plants in a woodland setting. Also Included on that tour will be a stop at Rhody Ridge Garden, a large private garden still maintained by the creators, the Butlers, but given to the Snohomish Parks as a county park. In addition to a collection of large rhododendrons, it contains many rare trees and shrubs. There will be a large selection of open private gardens before, during and after the convention. The ARS Board Meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 29, so that board members won't miss out on any tours.

Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens Garden of Jeanine and Rex Smith
The Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens. R. 'Taurus' in foreground.
Photo courtesy of Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens
The garden of Jeanine and Rex Smith.
Photo by Jeanine Smith

Exciting speakers have been selected to present the evening programs. Steve Hootman, Co-Executive Director of the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, and Kristi O'Donnell, Director of Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens, will both give programs on Thursday evening. On Friday evening, Jens Birck from Denmark will speak on "Rhododendron and Companion Plants for the Small Garden." The speaker for Saturday evening after the Banquet and Awards, will be world-renown plant explorer, nurseryman, and author Daniel Hinkley. Dan's program will be on his plant hunting in Nepal and Bhutan. On Saturday morning we have arranged to have a variety of morning seminars presented by experts on each topic. Topics include rhododendron pests and diseases, Sudden Oak Death as it relates to rhododendrons, grafting, art in the garden, NW hybrids and hybridizers, and hardy ferns for the garden. Sunday morning there will be an early morning get-together with Mike Bones and our new Membership Chairperson, Shirley Rock, along with an open forum with our Executive Director, Laura Grant. Following this meeting, there will be the Hybridizers' Roundtable moderated by Frank Fujioka and, alternately, a Species Identification Workshop led by Steve Hootman.
There are wonderful tourist attractions in the greater Seattle area for those wanting to extend their stay in the region or wishing to do other activities than visiting gardens. Downtown Everett itself features galleries, unique shops, wine bars, specialty restaurants, concerts, theatre, bookstores, championship sports, museums, sidewalk cafes and neighborhood pubs. These events and places to visit have all helped to transform Everett from a mill town into today's bustling and metropolitan city. The Boeing Everett factory tours are conducted to showcase The Boeing Company and the Everett product line, the 747, 767, 777 and soon the 787. As part of the tour, visitors walk through part of the largest building in the world by volume. On the Boeing flight line, visitors see airplanes in various stages of assembly, manufacture and flight test for airline customers around the world.

The Bellevue Botanical Garden Alpine Garden at the Rhododendron 
Species Botanical Garden
The Bellevue Botanical Garden.
Photo courtesy of the Bellevue Botanical Garden
The Alpine Garden at the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in May.
Photo courtesy of the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden
R. 'Apricot Fantasy' X R. 'Buttermint' Rhododendron orbiculare
R. 'Apricot Fantasy' X R. 'Buttermint', a cross by Jeanine Smith.
Photo by Jeanine Smith
Rhododendron orbiculare .
Photo courtesy of the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden

The registration form and additional details about the convention program will be available in the Winter 2009 edition of the ARS Journal. Meanwhile, please set aside April 30-May 2, 2009, to join us here in the Northwest in our celebration of spring!

Jeanine Smith is a member of the Seattle Chapter.