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Potomac Valley Chapter
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American Rhododendron Society
Newsletter: Winter 2004


  • January 11, 2004 1:00 - 4:00 PM - "The Robin Hills", held at the National Arboretum
  • March 28, 2004 1:00 - 4:00 PM Regular meeting at the National Arboretum
  • May 6-8, 2004 PVC Annual Flower Show, held at the ASA Convention, Bowie, MD
  • May 12-16, 2004 ARS National Convention, King of Prussia, PA

"The Robin Hills" by Don Voss

January 11, 2004 (Also - "Show and Tell")

Betty Anne Voss At our regular meeting on January 11th, we are very fortunate to have Don Voss speak on the history of the Robin Hill azaleas. Some of you may not realize why Don is considered the definitive expert on these evergreen azaleas. You see, his father-in-law was Robert Gartrell, the hybridizer, his mother-in-law was Nancy of the familiar 'Nancy of Robinhill', and the lovely double pink 'Betty Anne Voss' which may be the “best of them all” is named for Don's late wife.

You won't want to miss this superb program. Don has excellent slides of all the Robin Hills including rare clones and sports. His talk is filled with personal family history and amusing anecdotes that you will not hear anywhere else.

As we often do at our January program, we also invite our members for "show and tell". If you have images from your own garden or places you visited that would be of interest to other rhododendron people, bring 5 to 10 pictures and we will give you a few minutes on the program.

Directions: The Arboretum is located in north- east Washington D.C. at 24th and R Street off of Bladensburg Road. For best directions check the Arboretum website: www.usna.usda.gov

Refreshment Duty: Those with last names ending in J through P, we ask you to please bring a treat to share at the refreshment table.

'Dexter's Spice' Gets a New Home

When chapter member George Kackley (pictured right) decided to sell his home in Berryville, VA, he was concerned about the future of one of his favorite rhododendrons in the garden, 'Dexter's Spice'. When gardeners sell their homes, the new owners may not appreciate such rare plants. Often, choice specimens can become neglected and may even be destroyed. George wrote to us late last summer saying that he would like to donate his 'Dexter's Spice' to our chapter before he sold his property.

'Dexter's Spice' (pictured left) with its huge, fragrant white flowers was for many years one of the most prized plants at the Dexter Estate on Cape Cod. Because it was notoriously difficult to propagate, it was also one of the rarest. In George's letter, he noted that he had the distinction of paying "$25 per leaf" for a rare cutting of 'Dexter's Spice' offered for auction at the 1980 ARS Convention in Hyannis. Although this is not that original auction plant, the specimen he offered to give us was at least 10 years old, well branched, and full of flower buds.

Your chapter officers decided that the best place for this plant was at Margaret White's garden. Margaret has many mature Gable rhododendrons and quite a few Dexter hybrids too, but she did not have 'Dexter's Spice'. We felt a plant of this rare distinction belonged at the future Margaret K. and J. C. White Horticultural Center, an eventual Fairfax County Park.

Because of delays due to Isabel, we finally got around to moving the plant on October 12, the same day as our 2003 Fall Banquet. Jon Wallenmeyer and Don Hyatt met at George's garden that morning, and within an hour had the plant dug and ready to stuff into Don's van.

'Dexter's Spice' is now planted in its new home along the brick walk that parallels the driveway behind Margaret's greenhouse. We chose that spot since it will perfume a prime area of garden and it also had good wind protection to shelter those large flowers. Look for it the next time you visit. Thank you George!

If you have rare plants, consider giving them a good home before you move too.

Favorite Plants - A New Chapter Survey

We all have favorite rhododendrons and azaleas in our gardens that every year reward us with spectacular blooms. We are also tempted by new hybrids that come on the market but few of us have room to grow them all. With so many cultivars available, we want our members to tell us which varieties are their current favorites. We need information on both the old and the new.

Therefore, please send us names of the plants that have caught your eye. Maybe every plant in your garden is a favorite, but we'd like you to limit your "best pics" to the top 10% of the rhododendrons and azaleas you grow. Please include the hybrid group (Gable, Hachmann, Dexter, Delp, Glenn Dale, Robin Hill, Holly Hills, new Kurumes, species, etc.) and a note about the flower color. If possible, please rate plant habit and flower quality on a range of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. We will tally data and share the results in a future newsletter.

In addition to the "good doers", a list of azaleas and rhododendrons that are difficult to grow or are "total dogs" in the garden is often very helpful too. If you grew a plant that was real loser, send us that name and your experiences as well. Maybe it had a straggly habit or sickly foliage that only the bugs liked. Perhaps it grew for 20 years and never bloomed, or maybe it blasted its buds every year. Maybe it was a plant you paid big dollars for but it died as soon as you got it home. Personally, I don't give up on any variety until I have killed it at least three times. Anyway, knowing varieties that might be difficult is valuable information.

At the end of this newsletter is a survey form for you to record your favorite plants. Please mail (or email) your list to Don Hyatt or bring it to a chapter meeting. We want to hear from you!

The 2004 Seed Exchange: Link to Seed List

Catawbiense album
R. catawbiense album
Otter Creek, VA
We have a number of exciting things in this year's exchange. With very heavy rhododendron bloom in the mountains this year, you will see many forms of R. catawbiense. Doug Jolley sent seed from Fayette County, WV, the most northern range of the species. Don Hyatt labels one as "album ?" (pictured left). The reason for the "?" is that he saw a white form this spring near Otter Creek, VA, but when he returned in the fall to get seed, fallen trees from Hurricane Isabel confused the landscape. He collected seed from all four plants in the area, and one is definitely the white one.

R. prinophyllum, Arkansas
R. prinophyllum, white
Polk County, Arkansas
R. prinophyllum, Arkansas
R. prinophyllum
Polk County, Arkansas
Also look for R. oblongifolium (viscosum) and some heat tolerant, pale pink to white forms of prinophyllum (roseum) (pictured left). They were collected in the wilds of Polk County, Arkansas, by Larry S. Price who provided us the pictures too.

R. metternichii
Bob King of Frostburg, MD, has sent us seed from his best selections of approximately 50 specimens of R. metternichii (R. degronianum ssp. pentamerum) he raised from seed sent by Wada in the late 1960's. R. metternichii is one of the best species for our area. It is very hardy and has gorgeous foliage, dark green and glossy above with indumentum underneath. The beautiful soft pink trusses open in early spring. (pictured left)

R. arboreum
In the hand pollinated rhododendron crosses, we have a number of hybrids with pollen from R. arboreum (pictured left) collected near the Himalayas in India by Vijay Chardnahok. Vijay has also sent seed he collected in the wild of this tender species. Vijay took the picture where he collected seed and pollen near Mukteshwar in India. See our Late Spring 2003 Newsletter for more on R. arboreum and this part of India.

Don Hyatt made several crosses this year in Margaret White's garden with her new 'Martha Phipps', a large pink and yellow blend developed on Long Island. By crossing it onto her glowing pink 'John C. White' ('Vulcan' x Gable's fortunei) he hopes for some nice peach pinks to apricots. He also has some second generation Gregory Bald Hybrids too.

John C. White

Martha Phipps

Hardy Giant
Norm Beaudry made many crosses with 'Hardy Giant', a spectacular hybrid of fortunei by fictolacteum. It probably has the largest leaves of any rhodo for our area and its huge white trusses are excellent.

2004 Seed Listing

2004 Rhododendrons of the Year

The 2004 Rhododendron of the Year Awards were just announced. For our Middle Atlantic Region they are: Gigi
  • 'Gigi' - Elepidote Rhododendron
  • 'April Pink' - Lepidote Rhododendron
  • 'Crimson Tide' - Deciduous Azalea
  • 'Girard's Fuchsia' - Evergreen Azalea
2004 Rhododendron of the Year Pictures April Pink

The Joint ARS/ASA Convention in 2006

Four local ARS and ASA Chapters are now gearing up for a joint national convention in May 2006 in Rockville, MD. We will need your help!

Flower Show 2004

Because so many of our members will be involved this year with the Azalea Society National Convention in Bowie, MD, we have decided to join forces with the Ben Morrison Chapter ASA to host our flower show at the convention hotel in May. It will be good practice for the 2006 Convention. The ASA convention will be held at the Comfort Inn in Bowie, MD, about 15 minutes away from the National Arboretum, and runs from May 6 - 9, 2004.

You do not have to register for the ASA Convention to exhibit or visit the show. It will be open to all. We will need lots of extra helpers so please volunteer! We’ll also expect you to bring your sprays and trusses on May 6th to the Comfort Inn located at US 50 and 310 at MD Route 3. Details will be in our March Newsletter and website: < www.donaldhyatt.com/ARSPVC >

In Memoriam

The ARS lost some good people recently so we extend our sympathy to friends and families.

Connie Sanders by Jean Beaudry
On June 8, 2003, Connie Sanders died in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she had lived for the past 10 years. Connie and her husband Spencer (Sandy to those of us who knew him in the ARS) were long time members of the Potomac Valley Chapter ARS. Sandy served as Chapter President in the early 80s.

Connie and Sandy were both landscape architects who met in their middle years when they came to Washington to work in the National Housing Agency in 1939. They started a landscape architecture business and an example of their work can be seen in the current garden of Norman and Jean Beaudry who bought their house and garden after Sandy's death in 1985.

Sandy and Connie loved azaleas and rhododendrons and used them extensively in their garden. Their vision was to see the whole woods in bloom. Connie had remained in contact with the Beaudrys until her passing.

Dick Daneri

The loving husband of our ARS Executive Director, Dee Daneri, passed away suddenly from a heart attack on October 18th. He was 81. Married to Dee for 34 years, Dick Daneri was a retired dentist. They lived in Fortuna, CA.

Morgan Mickle

Morgan Mickle, long time friend and companion of PVC life member Harry Dewey passed away at home on November 14th at the age of 66. He had been suffering from gall bladder and liver cancers. Morgan was a multi-talented individual with noted careers in both art and music. He was active in many plant societies and often attended our Potomac Valley functions.

Ian Donovan

Ian Donovan, Mass Chapter member and former editor of the “Rosebay“, succumbed to prostate cancer on December 27, 2003.

Ted Van Veen

Ted Van Veen passed away on December 6, 2003, following heart surgery. He was 82.

In 1961, Ted left a successful career with IBM to take over the family rhododendron nursery in Portland after his father's death. Ted built that small company into the leading rhododendron nursery in the United States. He received many awards over the years including the ARS Gold Medal in 1976.

Chapter Library - Norm and Jean Beaudry

Our chapter library has received a number of donated books in recent months. Don Voss gave us Rhododendrons in Horticulture and Science, the official proceedings of the 2002 International Rhododendron Conference sponsored by the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Harry Dewey brought us eighteen general gardening books from the library of a late Rock Garden Society member. Topics include shade gardening, Japanese flower arranging, shrubs, wildflowers, annuals, and other subjects.

Brookside Gardens has given our chapter some older ARS Journals dating back to 1954 that are earmarked for an eventual library at the Margaret K. and J.C. White Horticultural Center.

We eventually plan to post a list of available library books on our chapter website.


In the “Azalea Species” article in our October 2003 newsletter, a Japanese deciduous azalea was misspelled and should be quinquefolium. These changes have been already made on the website.

Also, taxonomists have given R. ripense preference in the latest RHS Rhododendron Handbook (1998), and now R. mucronatum is considered a hybrid of R. ripense and R. stenopetalum (formerly R. macrosepalum). These changes have been already made on the website.

Copyright © Donald W. Hyatt