Rosebay Index
Rosebay Index

The Rosebay Volume 4 Number 2 Fall 1975

NOREEN C. SLAVITZ and JOHN J. SLAVITZ, Editors
Nantucket, Mass

A PERSONAL HISTORY OF THE DEXTER RHODODENDRONS

by JACK COWLES

Memorial Day May 30, 1958 was the start of my experience with the Dexter Estate. Then, for the first time, I saw and explored the masses of rhododendrons which had been set out by Mr. Charles Owen Dexter. By then, some years of neglect had permitted the plantings to be half swallowed by weedy vegetation, green briar, scrub pine, and oak. Contrary to the current rumor, however, the place had not been entirely sacked. Even though most of the smallest plants had been removed from nursery beds, and some of the medium sized specimens were gone, leaving considerable holes, all of the large original plants, were still there. These simple conclusions were easily deduced from observing the uneven ground as one tramped through the woodland gardens. That same visit led to my meeting with the then current owner. Mr. Burns, Dr. Brown, a former owner, and Mr. Dexter's gardener Tony Consolini, who was perhaps the most accomplished hybridizer of all. I was most indebted to Tony for much information concerning the plantings and lore of the estate. As a matter of fact, Tony continued his further breeding experiments for three decades after Mr. Dexter died, During the years 1959 to 1967 I was also engaged in perpetuating the recombination of these colorful Asian hybrids. Basic to the plan was the ever present need for greater hardiness, intensification of color, improved choice of plant forms and extension of bloom season.

Mr. Dexter started with catawbiense hybrids then progressed to acquiring R. fortunei Hybrids from Farquhar's Nursery. Then he embarked on a hybridizing program of his own. The building of a small greenhouse in 1930 made it practical to hybridize tender exotic material which needed protection ever on Cape Cod. Mr. Dexter used R. haematodes, R. 'Britannia', R. decorum, and R. 'Fabia' in his breeding program. Weather and cultural problems presented some setbacks. Sheer dedication, plus input from other pioneers in rhododendron development such as Ernest Wilson of the Arnold Arboretum, Joseph Gable, Clement Bowers, and Paul Frost yielded many ideas which accelerated programs. Credit should also be given to the collaborative effort; generous swapping of ideas which characterized the big race for improved rhododendrons.

The earliest efforts of Mr. Dexter resulted in his success in growing seedlings in New Bedford just after 1919. In 1921 he purchased the run-down dairy farm which was to be his subsequent home in Sandwich, It was freshly landscaped by Paul Frost, who introduced him to Farquhar's Nursery. By the middle 1920's Mr. Dexter was acquiring Fortune

Hybrids by the dozen. He also built a greenhouse for the purpose of expanding his hybridizing efforts, but was not as successful as some would believe, On the average, not more than a few hundred seedlings could have been set out in any one season. Mr. Dexter had several projects running concurrently on his farm of over a hundred and twenty-five acres. He had two cranberry bogs, an apple orchard, and two peach orchards to tend, besides overseeing his widespread plantings of horticultural material set out over the hillsides on a grand scale. Great glacial hollows were planted with swarms of pink mountain laurel, native azaleas, and select groups of rhododendrons. Some of these were planted in rows of one distinct kind, then surrounded by groups of hybrid plants. It was not unusual to see R. discolor with R. decorum x R. haematodes hybrids in widely spaced groups.

The first plantings which were brought in from Farquhar's probably were ten years old by the mid twenties, so that what survived has now been around for more than sixty years. Although certain individuals may vary in appearance, those having a common genetic pool behave in a similar way, within the limits of that genetic pool. Thus, the Fortune Hybrids all seem to bloom at a specific time, are rather tall coarse bushes or small trees, often with sparse foliage.

Memorial Day at Sandwich seems to be the peak of Fortune Hybrids in most years.

The catawbiense hybrids seem to flower about a week later there. And so it was in 1958 when I first viewed the Memorial Day treasure, this spectacular, beautiful display which Mr. Dexter had set out three decades before. As might be expected, Mr. Dexter had added constantly to his collection, even planting out seedlings of some recent imports from some of the plant explorers. Ernest Wilson of the Arnold Arboretum visited the gardens, as did Joe Gable; and they all added to the excitement which caused Dexter to actively carry out his intensive breeding program. No doubt some of his experiments flopped, but the great driving ambition was to search out exotic crosses which would succeed on Cape Cod. It was the Fortunei series which really had the most to contribute with large blossoms. Dexter succeeded in establishing species forms of R. fargesi, R.decorum, R. sutchuenense, R. discolor, and R. fortunei. He set out great thickets of R. carolinianum, plus considerable numbers of hardy plants.

The hybrid cross of R. decorum with R. haematodes resulted in low growing large, waxy flowers with a season of bloom usually preceding the fortunei hybrids by one week. Mr. Dexter set out three drifts of these on high sloping ground, where they regularly performed very well. These compact plants have flower bud hardiness to zero F., doing well only in the mildest parts of New England. The outstanding beauty of these decorum-haematodes hybrids has not been fully realized by gardeners until they compare them with the finest European and American novelties. Tony had one specimen which he valued very highly that was a low mound only three feet high at twenty five years of age with waxy pink and cream bells.

It is impossible to consider the development of the "Dexter Hybrids" without giving recognition to Tony Consolini. Tony continued the pace set by Mr. Dexter's hybridizing, yet Tony worked with very limited facilities and resources.

The real significance of what both Tony and Mr. Dexter were trying to do becomes apparent when one recognizes that the use of tender exotic Asian material required pits for winter protection. They were reaching out for the on usual qualities found in the exotics. It is fortunate that they were situated in the mildest part of New England, because much of what they were to produce needed all the help they could get from both climate and geography.

R. 'Britannia' was crossed with two different forms of R. fortunei to produce 'Mrs. Wm R. Coe' in one case and with the other, a group of tallish, hardier pinks with good substance. It was R. fortunei which gave the hardier, taller pink hybrids, while Mr. Dexter's were uniformly low, very large pinks, but only hardy to 0 F. Tony then used R. 'Pygmalion' on one of the hardier sorts to evolve an outstanding lot of seedlings, one of which was called 'Dexter's Giant Red'. This variety and all its siblings show the speckling influence of 'Pygmalion' to some degree. This plant of 'Dexter's Giant Red' did not bloom until 1959, so it can be assumed it was started from a cross made about 1950, unmistakably by Tony Consolini, and is a fitting memorial to Mr. Dexter's great dream.

It becomes apparent that the study of the history of rhododendron breeding shows that progress is measured in decades of effort. Interested individuals within the American Rhododendron Society are in the best position to evaluate and try to secure the gains that have been made. Obviously, a dedicated institutional approach, well founded, and supported by the membership is the best long-range way to cope with what should be an ongoing effort.

NON- CONFORMING RHODODENDRONS

Reprinted with permission from SUNSET MAGAZINE

A sure way to riches, as commercial rhododendron growers well know, is to sell varieties with either hugh heads of pink flowers or hugh heads of red flowers. But many fine rhododendrons are nonconformists, and these good little plants also merit notice. A few dedicated nurserymen continue to grow them for discriminating gardeners.

One of the most charming of the smaller rhododendrons is 'Seta'. Perhaps if it bloomed in April or May, when the rhododendron tide is at its flood, we might indeed overlook it. But its early bloom, clear color, and exquisite proportions make it an outstanding garden plant for mild climates.

'Seta' has been around for some time. It won an Award of Merit from Britain's Royal Horticultural Society in 1933, the year it was introduced to the world by Lord Aberconway, owner of the great Welsh garden, Bodnant. Subsequently it won a First Class Certificate and an Award of Garden Merit.

The last award is especially coveted because it means 'Seta' has been evaluated in many gardens over a period of many years, and has been 'found superior', not only in flower quality hut also in plant form and garden performance.

'Seta' is a slow to moderate grower that branches freely, becoming a 3 to 6-foot-tall, flat-topped, twiggy shrub. The leaves ate 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, half as wide, and medium olive green in color. Overall plant texture is neither dense nor wispy, but pleasantly informal--just right for planting along a woodland path or in a simple wooden container.

Flowers--a delight and a risk Flowers come in clusters of three to five at the branch tips. They are large for the size of the plant, measuring 2 inches long and nearly as wide. Texture is heavy and color is pure white with a pronounced pink edge. In the Northwest, flowers appear over a long period from early March into April. In northern California, first blooms appear in late January and last through March.

Early bloom may cause trouble in Northwest gardens. Although plants are hardy to 5 degrees F. and possibly even lower, early flowers can he damaged by late frosts. Plant where the flowers will have over-head protection of branches or eaves. (In 1972 'Seta' buds were frozen over much of Oregon and Washington, just like the flower buds of far hardier rhododendrons.)

Temperatures below 20 degrees F. in the San Francisco Bay area had no effect on flower buds of 'Seta'; plants are blooming right on schedule.

Parentage of 'Seta'

'Seta' is a "wide cross" a hybrid between two species of rather distant relationship. One parent, R. moupinense, is a dwarf (to 1 1/2 feet tall) early-blooming shrub with white or pink flowers often dotted with red. The other parent, R. spinuliferum, is a rare shrub with clusters of small, erect, tubular orange-red flowers

MASSACHUSETTS CHAPTER HOLDS FIFTH ANNUAL SHOW AND AUCTION

by EVELETH COWLES

The Waltham Field Station on Beaver St. proved a splendid location for our first truss show and auction near Boston.

The lobby was arranged so that a large variety of displays informed and entertained our visitors. While judging went on they could browse through Jane Brooks' literature; look over a gorgeous table of trusses; discuss problems with the Answer Man--Jack Cowles; study a display of ericaceous plants by Weston Nurseries and the Hunnewell Estate; or buy little azaleas from Max and Nat Resnick or a variety of larger plants from Dick Budka at our flea market.

On schedule our guests went into the main hall to feast their eyes on the 320 trusses in competition, plus a lovely table of Dexters from Heritage Plantation.

By the time the auction started, many casual drop-ins had become avidly interested. In his inimitable style Louis Cook kept the ball rolling with spirited bidding to the end. A beautiful assortment of plants from Weston Nurseries, Bear Swamp Gardens, Greer Gardens, and Van Veen Nursery went to many happy people.

Judges for the show were Jon Shaw, Heman Howard, Dorothy Swift, Dr. Jay Slavitz, and Ed Eagan of the Massachusetts Chapter and John Oliver of Connecticut.

Awards of the Truss Show, Massachusetts Chapter of the ARS, June 1, 1975, were as follows:

Best of Show (Louis Cook Trophy): Stephen Snell - Amphion.

Best Ironclad (Willard P. Hunnewell Trophy): Paul Olafsen - Chionoides.

Best Hybrid (Weston Nurseries Trophy): Jon Shaw - Kentucky Cardinal.

Best Dexter (Heritage Plantation Trophy): Jon Shaw - Dexter's.Giant Red.

Best Azalea (Bear Swamp Gardens Trophy): Stephen Snell - Yellow Exbury seedling.

AWARDS by CLASSES

#1-1st Jon Shaw--(Vulcan's Flame x Labar's White) x Giant Red. 2nd James Wright--Catalga x Madonna. 3rd John Oliver--Dexter's hardy low

#2-1st and 2nd Paul Olafsen--Chionoides. 3rd Stephen Snell--Catawbiense seedling.

#3A- 1st Dick Brooks--Nova Zembla. 2nd-Stephen Snell--Nova Zembla. 3rd G. Carlson--Nova Zembla.

#3B-lst Stephen Snell--Mrs. C.S. Sargent. 2nd Louis Cook--Weston Strawberry Pink.

3rd Stephen Snell--Roseum Elegans; and Paul Olafsen--Roseum Elegans.

#3D-lst Paul Olafeen--English Elegans.

#4-1st Dr. Max Resnick--Reid's Red. 2nd Bob King--Mrs. P. Den Ouden. 3rd Laurel Mezitt--Mary Kittel.

#5B-lst Stephen Snell--Amphion. 2nd Dr. Max Resnick--Homer. 3rd. Louis Cook--Homer.

# 5C-2nd Bea MacDonald--Baroness Schroeder. 3rd Charles Gredler--Ice Cube.

#5D-Dr. Max Resnick--Cat. Boursault. 2nd John Oliver--Roslyn. 3rd Charles Gredler Cat. Boursault.

#6-1st Dr. Max Resnick--Yaku.x Mars.

#7B-lst Dr. Max Resnick--General Eisenhower. 2nd Dr. Max Resnick--Rocket. 3rd Robert Stuart--Atroflo

#7C-1st Jon Shaw--Kentucky Cardinal.

#7D-lst Jon Shaw--Belle Heller. 2nd James Wright--Belle Heller.

#7F-1st John Cowles--Mrs. A.C.Kendrick. 2nd Jon Shaw--Pink Twins. 3rd Charles Gredler--Trude Webster; and Dr. Max Resnick--Cynthia.

#7H-lst Richard Brooks--Blue Peter. 2nd Louis Cook--Blue Peter. 3rd Richard Brooks--Blue Peter

#7J-2nd James Wright--Mary Belle.

#7X-lst Paul Olafsen--Pearce's American Beauty. 2nd Louis Cook--Mrs. Furnival.

#8A-lst Jon Shaw--Dexter's Giant Bed. 2nd Dr. Max Resnick--Gigi.

#SB-lst B. Harnois--Mrs. W. H. Coe. 2nd C. Gredler--Dexter's Horizon, 3rd J. Oliver

#8D-Special - C. Gredler--Dexter's Brandy-Green

#SF-1st R. Brooks--Janet Blair. 2nd J. Oliver--Dexter Brookville. 3rd Mrs. Jonathan Leonard--Wheatley.

#9-1st Wayne Mezitt--R. carolinaum x azalea rosea F1. -

# 10-1st R. Brooks--Laurie. 2nd R. Brooks--Dora Amateis. 3rd H, Stuart-Myrtifolia hybrid.

#11-lst B. Harnois-~unknown. 2nd R. Stuart-Boule de Neige x Charles Dickens. 3rd L. Cook--unknown.

#12-1st B. Harnois-- R. fortunei.

#13-1st W. Mezitt--R. smirnowi. 2nd C. Gredler--Mist Maiden. 3rd C. Gredler--R. yakushimanum F.C.C.

#14-2nd H. Brooks--R. carolinianum. 3rd Jon Shaw--R. carolinianum minus.

#16-2nd P. Olafsen--R.nudiflorum. #174st S. Snell--Exbury yellow seedling. 2nd L. Jacobs--Exbury. 3rd S. Snell--Exbury pink seedling.

#18-1st S. Snell--Lorna. 2nd Dr. Max Resnick--Buccaneer. 3rd L. Cook--Eureka.

#19-1st P. Olafsen--Gumpo Pink. #20-1st C. Gredler--Scintillation. 2nd N. Smith--Vulcan x America.

#21-1st C. Gredler--Gibralter. 2nd C. Gredler--Rosella.

#20-Arrangement--lst C. Gredler, 2nd and 3rd W. Hunnewell.

A VISIT WITH DOROTHY S. SWIFT

I first scraped rock and briar away to plant a rhododendron in 1970, our first spring in our own house. I had already watched a lot of carefully planted bulbs fail to appear on schedule in the moist ground of our swampy hillside. It seemed like a good idea to look for things to plant that had very shallow roots. That first rhododendron was four pieces of a rhododendron thicket which my husband and a friend dug up at an old estate about to meet bulldozers. The entire neighborhood hacked away at accessible areas to get some of these rare lavender plants.

However I had earlier visited the International Spring Flower Show (now defunct) at the New York Coliseum. The displays of the Rhododendron Society and various nurseries and estates featured many beautiful rhododendrons and azaleas. They reminded me of some of the impressive colorful plantings at Swarthmore College. Those woodland gardens, planted in Dr. John Wister's years there, impressed even a student of the physical sciences. I never saw anything like them while growing up in Michigan.

In 1971 I started ordering small plants of named varieties with my selections culled from Flower Show notes, Van Veen's book and The Rothchild Rhododendrons, which I found in the library. After that I started to become active in the ARS and tried to collect plants suitable for my location, eventually trying to acquire a fair number of Dexter hybrids and some yellow Hardgrove hybrids, not yet of blossoming age. Fortunately I never felt the need to grow every rhododendron.

The seed exchange offered a chance to try for something new. In my job I grow marine algae in the laboratory under carefully controlled conditions using expensive equipment. In my hobby I aim for the opposite approach of using cheap and simple methods. Little breadboxes with clear plastic tops have made suitable greenhouses for seeds and Jack Cowles' Styrofoam cup and Ziploc bag method for cuttings has been very successful with rooting occurring when the temperature in the house becomes warm in late spring. I now tend enough rhododendrons that I can't count them all because I can't decide at what stage new seedlings and rooted cuttings become worthy of being of being included, (Actually about 200 plants are in the ground.) I have found that rhododendrons add a new aspect to traveling. Attending occasional garden tours or meetings such as the hybridizers' symposium and the N.Y. Botanical (Scottish) Rhododendron Day in New York has introduced a number of interesting people and their plants. Seeing rhododendrons in Europe in 1974 was very rewarding. I also found my acquaintances there included a higher proportion of gardeners than is common here. In late June 1974 I toured the Univ. of Wash. Arboretum rhododendron collection and their Japanese Garden while on campus for an oceanography meeting. During the same meeting this year in Halifax, I visited the rocky, open, seaside garden of a A.R.S. member I met at the N.Y. symposium.

Discussing rhododendrons, Mr. Peter Barber at Exbury gave me something to think about in pointing out that collecting Dexter hybrids, for example, is tying one-self to a past era for the sake of acquiring plants certain to be hardy. (There is little problem with any of them here in southern Rhode Island with 0 to 5 F minimum temperature.) We agreed that many of them are fine plants, but there is much material available today beyond even the ample plant resources Dexter had. There are additional species which are being used for leaf texture, plant size, flower color and shape etc. Take a chance and try some of the fine plants from Great Britain and the West Coast:

It was clear upon touring Exbury, Wisley and Bodnant how I could try to improve my rhododendron garden. In the northeast US a fine garden usually has a lot of pink blossoming plants, because these have advanced most in breeding for pure color, hardiness, and good plant habit. There is much more variety in color in the English gardens. Even more impressive than the pure yellows and reds possible there is the number of plants with delicate combination of color in a flower: cream and pale pink, yellow and orange, pink and orange, peach and pale yellow etc. To get the total effect, superimpose on such plantings some 'Loderi's, for large scale trusses and scent, some lepidote species and hybrids with small foliage in lighter green and blue-green, hanging trumpet-shape flowers in bright shades (the 'Lady Chamberlain' type of flower), some large-leafed species, heavily-indumented species, and a wide variety of small-leafed species having prolific bloom (such as R. augustinii and R. yunnanense) and some of the distinctive hybrids of R. repens. There is a variety of plants material to be tested in our region in order to attain some of these characteristics.

My new plantings this year (influenced by the English gardens) include: some lepidote species such as R. augustinii and R. xanthocodon plus some hybrids of R. xanthocodon and of other species in the Cinnabarinum series; several Naomi clones, which are lovely with pink, yellow and lilac tones and which bloom simultaneously with and adjacent to lavender blue augustinii at Exbury (this being more attractive than it sounds); some new English hybrids imported for some of the delicate shades, and some Dexter hybrids long on my wants list acquired from eastern nurseries. The most challenging of these now is the testing of the plant hardiness of Cinnabarinum series plants which I have acquired. I also have seed to use to select for hardiest seedlings. These plants are rated H3 and H4, but hot summers are known to be as severe a trial as the cold of winter.

In addition we have all observed that an H3 plant (from west coast observation) might perform on the east coast more as H2 or H4.

An article in the A.R.S. Quarterly Bulletin several years ago pointed out that "A persons garden is his castle." I agree with this and don't expect others' tastes to be the same as mine. "Everyone should grow _______" is a statement to be avoided. No garden of rhododendrons is without some that one would envy, regardless of the narrowness of focus of interest of the owner. Each of us knows the futility of trying to convince a novice who has fallen for Rhododendron X as pictured in Van Veen's book that the true color is not exactly as pictured and Rhododendron Y is a better plant of that color and type for this area.

A few more plants reach blooming size each year, which is very satisfying after a few years of tiny plants only. Some companion plants which I have tried: lilies, Primula (japonica and polyanthus), Epimedium, several Trillium species, a variety of miniature daffodils, some English hollies. There are natural jack-in-the-pulpit, dogtooth violets, and several other wild flowers. I'm still experimenting with different fertilization methods to encourage better growth and bloom of rhododendrons. This year I gave frequent foliar feedings of a high phosphorus soluble fertilizer to smaller plants.

And my home-owning friends are asked each year, "Are you sure you have enough rhododendrons?"

LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

I just had to offer my congratulations on your Spring 1975 publication. In my opinion it is certainly one of the finest, if not the best, chapter publication that I have seen. Naturally not all of them come my way, but yours and that of the New York Chapter have been consistently well above average.

Cordially,

Alfred S. Martin

OVERHEARD

At a recent meeting of the Massachusetts Chapter, a new member who was seeking free advice asked Ed Mezitt, "What would be good to plant in a spot that gets very little rain due to overhanging eaves, has too much late afternoon sun, has clay soil, and is on a rocky ledge?"

"Lady," he answered, "how about a nice flagpole?"

AN EASY-TO-BUILD GREENHOUSE

by ALBERT S. JETTER

Reprinted from Mechanix Illustrated Magazine Copyright 1975 by Fawcett Publications, Inc.

Build your own greenhouse with redwood framing and plastic sheet materials. It's easy--and in every sense a permanent-looking structure to be proud of. We did ours for $350 in three weekends.

The location of the greenhouse is very important. It should get as much sun as possible, be protected from strong or persistent winds, and the land on which it sits should have good drainage. All things considered, a spot near a deciduous tree is ideal, the shade shielding the greenhouse from direct heat in the summer and allowing direct sunlight in the leafless winter.

It would be a help, too, to have a convenient source of water and electricity--not necessarily a permanent hookup when a hose and an extension from the house would do as well.

And to keep the tax man at bay, examine local building codes carefully to determine what constitutes a permanent, assessable building, Our greenhouse is classified as a movable or temporary structure thus, not assessable in our area) because of the mortarless brick foundation we used. This method is shown in the basic construction sketch.

We also show in a detail sketch an alternate foundation which uses concrete blocks at the four corners--a permanent anchor to be sure and, as surely, a feature that puts the greenhouse in the assessable category.

Preparations begin with leveling the ground and setting up the course of loose bricks all around. This done, treat and cut the plates: 4x4 cedar soaked in Wood-

life (in the shade, please, to slow evaporation of the stuff)and half-lapped at the ends for good, strong corners. Use diagonal braces to keep the corners square. In order to provide some kind of toehold on mother earth, drive 3-ft. -long angle irons into the ground at each outside corner and fasten them to the plates with lag screws. It may seem a gesture only, but they are a help. And still not assessable.

Systematize the framing by drawing a full-size pattern on two sheets of l/2-in. plywood (use the ply later for the greenhouse tables along each side). This way, you have a jig for nailing all six frames. Make your miter cuts on a radial-arm saw (24 in all for the six frames), place them on the pattern and link the elements with the corner gussets, which are glued and nailed.

Mark the plates for the frames, temporarily brace them (or have a helper hold them) in plumb, then nail the ends to the plates. The nailing strips at the juncture of the wall and roof and along both sides of the ridge are trimmed flush with the outside frames.

The entire framework is now complete, with all nailing strips in place.

We used Filon corrugated plastic sheet which is delivered with Filon's own corrugated redwood nailing strips. The strips, which come for use both horizontally and vertically (for edges) are in turn nailed to the framework's nailing strips. Additional vertical filler strips, between the horizontal corrugated strips provided a finished appearance.

The Filon sheets are cut very easily with a crosscut saw. Use metal-cutting shears on the diagonal cuts, if you wish.

Before applying the sheets, a Filon sealant is applied to the horizontal corrugated strips. Readying the sheet for Installation, a 5/32-inch pilot hole is drilled for each aluminum nail (the nails are used with neoprene washers). Position the sheet carefully, pressing it firmly into the sealant. Then drive the nails in far enough to squash the washer under the nailhead, producing a watertight fastening.

With all sheets in place, install the ridge cap--three overlapping strips of Filon nailed to the V-longitudinal filler strip--held with screws from below. A good, secure installation,

The interior layout is a matter of personal preference--a single table along each side or a single on one and a double on the other.

After sheathing, we installed a thermostatically-controlled ventilating fan at the far end of the greenhouse, a necessary item for dissipating extreme summer heat buildups.

Heating the greenhouse in winter is easily done with a small 1320-watt circulating type electric heater with thermostatic control. This unit, in my locale, can keep greenhouse temperature above freezing at all times.

MECHANIX Illustrated October, 1975

MASSACHUSETTS CHAPTER TO HOST 1980 ARS NATIONAL CONVENTION

President Jack Cowles has officially been informed by the National Office of the American Rhododendron Society that the Massachusetts Chapter has been selected as the host chapter for the 1980 National Convention. This is indeed a great honor for our chapter which in a few short years has grown from a mere handful of members into one of the largest and most active in the country. Credit for this achievement must go to a number of very dedicated members whose untiring efforts have made this possible. We will hot attempt to name them, for to do so would invite serious errors of omission, so a blanket "thank you" must go out to all those who have labored so diligently in behalf of the chapter.

Having been selected, a major effort now lies ahead. Needless to say, the responsibility cannot be borne solely by those who have carried the ball so far. Committees are now being formed to plan the cost details of the convention even at this early date as the complexities involved in staging an undertaking of this magnitude are large indeed. This, then, is an invitation and appeal to every member to pitch in and do whatever is necessary to make the 1980 A.R.S. Convention in Massachusetts a truly outstanding event.

NOTES FROM NANTUCKET

As we sat in the last row of a very crowded hall at the October meeting of the Massachusetts Chapter, we couldn't help but think back to the earliest days of our chapter and to what has happened to it since. We had just flown in from our little island in the Atlantic and were warmly greeted by many familiar faces whose longevity in the chapter goes back to regular meeting number one, held in Louis Cook's auction gallery in Hanover. That night of just a few years ago, about a dozen people met, not many, but possessing an enthusiasm which spoke well for the future of our fledgling chapter.

Here it was, five years later, and the faces unfamiliar were in the great majority. We knew our chapter had grown astoundingly but the fact never really penetrated until that night; a packed house and the Red Sox were playing game seven of the World Series just down the road. To be sure, there were a few transistor radios around; we'll admit to having one ourselves. But the focus of everyone's attention was the fine presentation on hybridizing given by Ed Mezitt and Kathy Freeland of Weston Nurseries. Ed, of course, served as our first chapter president and many of our first meetings were held at the Garden Shop at Weston. A plant sale followed the talk and a number of large tables were covered with hundreds of plants donated by members; the proceeds of the sale going to the chapter.

The one downer of the evening had to be the instant "coffee". It may be a good beverage but it sure isn't coffee. Hopefully, future meetings will see a return to the real thing.

This issue of the Rosebay carries a construction article concerning building a greenhouse, We like to print material occasionally that is somewhat peripheral to the subject at hand, i.e. genus Rhododendron, but don't really know if you, the reader, think such stuff appropriate. We do know at least one member built the grow-light setup kit growing rhododendrons from seed and had fantastic results with it. We would really like to know what your feelings about this may be and what success you may have had in building

some of these projects. The greenhouse article, by the way, came from Mechanix Illustrated, a great how-to magazine from Fawcett Publications. Another article reprinted in this issue is from Sunset who has graciously given permission to reprint their material for previous issues of the Rosebay. Both magazines regularly feature articles of interest to horticulturalists, and if you are convinced to subscribe, let them know you saw their material in the Rosebay.

We, of course, are always looking for material to reprint which may be of interest to our readers but obviously do not see even a small percentage of what is published monthly. If you should discover an article which you feel appropriate, please clip and send it to us, along with the source, and we will carry on from there.

The continuing saga of growing rhododendrons on Nantucket, or Gone with the Wind, Part II, continues. When we left them last issue, most were stripped leafless, but held many flower buds. Spring found them blooming profusely on bare stalks, a strange sight indeed. Shortly thereafter, most developed an abundance of new foliage, the number of frank casualties being surprisingly few. Spurred on by this apparent "success" another truckload arrived by boat in early June and are seemingly holding their own. On the other hand, our azaleas are flourishing. Anyone for an azalea study club?

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