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Potomac Valley Chapter
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American Rhododendron Society
Newsletter: Late Spring 2003


  • May 10, 2003 Annual Flower Show and Plant Sale at the National Arboretum
  • May 11-13, 2003 Paul James Garden and Blue Ridge Parkway Tour, Roanoke VA.
  • May 31, 2003 Sandwich Club, Tour of Heritage Plantation, MA. (see March newsletter
  • June 8, 2003 Chapter Picnic and Cutting Exchange at Margaret White's House
  • September 21, 2003 Regular Meeting at the National Arboretum
  • October 12, 2003 Fall Banquet, Jeanine Smith

Flower Show and Plant Sale, National Arboretum May 10th 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Our annual Flower Show and Plant Sale is scheduled at the National Arboretum Administration Building on Saturday, May 10th from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM. Set up and submission of entries will be from 8:00 - 10:00 AM and then we will open to the public during which we will try to judge the show and sell plants at the same time. We desperately need assistance that day, especially at the end when we will have to take down the flower show. The Arboretum has lost some staff recently, so this year they will not be able to set up the risers to display the trusses. They have also asked us to take down the 25 tables and store them in nearby closets after we close the show at 4:00 PM. We really need your help this year. Not only in bring in flowers but also please consider helping us with sales and with clean up. We usually take the winning entries home and try to root them for our members too.

Chapter Picnic and Cutting Exchange at Margaret White's House June 8, 2003

Mark your calendars! On Sunday afternoon from 1:00 - 5:00 PM we will have our annual chapter picnic (potluck) and cutting exchange at Margaret White's house. Please bring a casserole, salad, meat, vegetable, or dessert that will feed at least 6 to 8 people. Drinks, utensils, and plates will be provided. We will also have a cutting exchange for evergreen and deciduous azaleas as well as small leaf lepidote rhododendrons. If you have some cuttings of some cuttings you are willing to share, please put 3 to 8 of them in a plastic bag and wrap the ends in a moist piece of paper towel or napkin. We may auction off the rare forms. There will be a demonstration on how to root cuttings for anyone not familiar with the process.

Happy Birthday Maggie!

Maggie West is having another birthday but few would ever believe she is turning 94 years young! Congratulations Maggie, and many thanks for showing us your lovely garden on the District tour.

Chapter Field Trip: Paul James Garden and Blue Ridge Parkway May 11- 13, 2003

After hearing Paul James speak that snowy afternoon of our March Meeting, many people were anxious to visit his garden in person so we have arranged with Paul for a tour on Monday, May 12th. Most of us will likely leave Washington D.C. area late afternoon of May 11th (Mother's Day) and travel to Roanoke, VA, arriving in the evening. We plan to visit Paul's garden the next day, May 12th, and then for those who wish to stay an extra day, on May 13th we will tour parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway admiring wildflowers and scenery before heading home. If you think you can join us, make reservations on your own and tell Don Hyatt know so we know how many people to expect.

The Colony House Motel has given us a special group rate of $57.00 per night for Sunday (5/11) and Monday (5/12) for rooms with two double beds. Mention the "Rhododendron Society" to get our group rate. To get to the there, take I-81 south to the Roanoke exit at I-581. I-581 becomes Route 220 (Franklin Road) on the other side of Roanoke. Paul's Garden and the Parkway are located right off of Rt. 220.

Motel Location: Colony House Motel, 3560 Franklin Rd., SW, Roanoke VA 24014
Reservations: Local (540)-345-0411 Toll Free: (866)-203-8550

Gray and Delores Carter are on the Mend

We were all very concerned when Gray Carter went into the hospital on April 14th for open heart surgery to repair a heart valve while his wife Delores was still recovering from a broken hip. How surprised and pleased we were to see both of them at the District Meeting Banquet looking great!

District IX Meeting - A Grand Success

We received many compliments from those who attended our District IX meeting in Annapolis last week. We had over 100 registrants anxious to see azaleas and rhododendrons in bloom but unfortunately Mother Nature didn't cooperate. We had hoped for some warmth in the weeks before the convention to bring on the big floral display but that didn't happen. By comparison, flowering times this season were almost a month later than the past several years but even so, the gardens were still lovely. We did have some rain on the Saturday tours but other than that almost everything else went very smoothly.

We want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all those who helped make the meeting run so smoothly. We must give special thanks to Carol Segree for opening her garden to us (pictured left), for finding the wonderful hotel accommodations, and for planning the garden tours, meals, the banquet, and being everywhere to see that connections were being made. Also we want to thank Maggie West as well as Bob and Rosa McWhorter for letting us visit their lovely gardens too. Thanks to Norman and Jean Beaudry who handled registration, secured our keynote speaker, and helped organize and run the plant sale. We also need to thank Paul and Nan Barchowski for their assistance during registration and for Nan's wonderful convention logo and hand calligraphy name tags. Thank you Phyllis Rittman for obtaining those wonderful convention bags and for handling all the finances from pre-payments to money collection during the very successful plant sale and plant auction. Thanks to Kurt Minnik and Sue Lombardo who served as bus captains and guides, helping Carol to scope out the Annapolis trip and time the tour segments. Thanks to Bruno Kaelin and Don Voss who assisted as bus captains on the Arboretum tour. We really appreciate Barbara Bullock’s hard work for arranging such a wonderful tour at the National Arboretum with special presentations by many of the curators there. Thanks to Gray Carter for hospitality arrangements including maps, many of the handouts, banquet and catering arrangements through Lois Duffy, and for propagating so many wonderful plants for the sale. We also want to thank Joe Miller who assisted Gray with the hospitality suite when Gray went into the hospital. Thanks to Jon Wallenmeyer for obtaining plants from a number of commercial locations and for managing the awesome plant sale. Thanks to Jane Goodrich and Don Hyatt for propagating cuttings and seedlings for the sale and for providing banquet favors. Our speakers were exceptional from the humorous talk by Frank Pelurie and Harry Wise on Rhododendron propagation, to George McLellan with his lovely pictures of Scotland, and to Scott Vergara for his thoughts species. Thanks to any others we have overlooked, too, and a special thanks for all those who attended.

Rhododendron arboreum from Mukteshwar, India

Rhododendron arboreum is one of the most widely distributed species in the world growing in broad areas of Asia, especially near the Himalayas in South Western China, Northern India, and Nepal. It grows as a tree, often more than 100 feet tall, and has beautiful blood red flowers in large, tight trusses of up to 20 flowers. Each flower in the truss measures about 2 inches across. Some forms at higher elevations are pink or white and seem to be hardier.

The species was introduced into England in 1811 and became a parent of many colorful hybrids by being crossed with hardier species such as the cross (caucasicum x arboreum) which produced 'Nobleanum' and the cross (catawbiense x arboreum) which produced 'Russellianum'. R. arboreum itself is not considered hardy for our region but it is very heat tolerant so it could prove to be a good parent for adding color and summer heat resistance to many of our hybrids.

One of our new Associate Members, Vijay Chandhok from Pennsylvania, has been most generous in bringing back seeds and pollen of the brilliant red species R. arboreum from a recent trip he took to visit with family in Mukteshwar, located in Northern India about 220 miles north of New Delhi. Vijay has a mountain top home there which has a majestic view of the Himalayas. The entire hillside below his home becomes brilliant red as the Rhododendron arboreum begins to bloom in March. He has given us permission to share some of these photographs with you in our newsletter but he has many more pictures of the region on his home page:


From Mukteshwar on a clear day, one can see many incredible peaks of the Himalayas towering from 19,000 ft. to over 25,000 ft. including Neelkantha (Blue-throated Shiva), Nandaghunti (the Veil of the Goddess), Trishul (the Trident of Shiva), and Nandadevi (Goddess of Bliss). Perhaps one day our chapter will take a Field Trip to Mukteshwar in to see the Himalayas and the magnificent R. arboreum.

Vijay took seeds from our seed exchange with him to Mukteshwar this March and is sharing them with the local people in the region. He has been involved with a group called "Chirag" that has been working with reforestation of the scenic countryside in northern India and he has also been bringing seeds of sweet corn and other plants for local farmers.

Pictured to the left is Vijay's granddaughter carefully removing anthers from R. arboreum blossoms for us. If you are interested in obtaining some pollen to cross with things in your garden, contact Don Hyatt or Norman Beaudry. I think we have enough pollen to cross with almost every rhododendron in the Washington area so we will probably send some along to the ARS Pollen Bank and to the Rhododendron Species Foundation too. Vijay also brought us a small bottle of bright red Buransh Juice made from the flowers of R. arboreum. We expect to be able to share a tiny sip of this Indian delicacy with those who come to Margaret White’s house when we have our Chapter Picnic in June. Thank you Vijay!

Petal Blight

Rhododendrons and azaleas are susceptible to a fungus disease called Petal Blight (botanically known as Ovulinia azalea), a serious disease that can ruin a floral display during warm wet weather. The spores that cause the infection spend the winter in hard dark bodies called sclerotia that developed on infected flowers from the previous season. When conditions are just right, the spores release into the air and infect nearby flowers. Secondary spores are produced from current infections so when conditions are hot and humid with scattered showers, an entire display can melt into mush within a matter of few days.

When a flower is infected, each tiny spore will initially cause just a small clear or brownish spot about the size of a pin head at the site of infection. However, then the fungus begins to grow and spreads rapidly to the rest of the flower blossom causing large areas of tissue and often the entire flower to collapse. Since this disease is more destructive in hot humid weather, some people prefer to plant the early blooming varieties that open in the cooler spring, thus avoiding the problem.

To control petal blight on midseason or later blooming varieties, the flower buds can be sprayed with a systemic fungicide such as Bayleton that controls the disease. This is best done as the flower buds begin to show color and the flowers will then usually be protected throughout the blooming season. Always be careful when spraying potent chemicals, though. Another method of control is to try to remove all spent blossoms after they drop which removes the sclerotia that provide the primary infection.

Copyright © Donald W. Hyatt