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Rhododendron and
Azalea News

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Summer/Fall 2019  Vol. 13  No. 2
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People and Events


John Migas
Midwest Chapter


It is with sincere appreciation that the Midwest Chapter presets to John Migas the Bronze Medal of the American Rhododendron Society in recognition of his many years of dedicated service as vice president and president of our chapter.

John has been a competent leader with his involvement and dedication for the success of our chapter.  A few of these activities include plant sales, social events, and garden visits.  He is generous in giving his time to transporting plants from his nursery and another Michigan rhododendron grower to our annual plant sale held at the Chicago Botanical Garden.  He also helps arrange seminars on root cuttings, hybridizing, soil preparation.  John started the tradition of our annual Christmas Party starting in 2007.

John operates a very eclectic and high-regarded  (by Midwest azalea and rhododendron growers) garden nursery specializing in azaleas and rhododendrons in Saugatuck, Michigan.  He is happy to share his extensive inventory with our members and often provides us with advice and recommendations. John has been and continues to be in touch with members on chapter matters and events.  Presented December 5, 2009.


Jerry and Shirley Rock
Komo Kulshan Chapter


Jerry and Shirley Rock were presented with the chapter's highest award, the Bronze Medal, in May...and at their home.  The chapter recognized them for their years of service to the chapter and to the ARS.  They are both charter members of our Pilchuck Chapter, and associate members of Whidbey Island and Komo Kulshan Chapters.

The tribute to Jerry is outstanding for his Bronze Medal.  Recognized as a valuable member of the Komo Kulshan Chapter and currently serving as vice president coordinating the programs for each of the programs.  Jerry freely shares his knowledge about rhododendrons and azaleas to anyone and everyone. Jerry enjoys teaching and does presentations on just about anything relating to rhododendrons.  He has provided programs for school children, other garden clubs, and rhododendron chapters.  At ARS displays and booths in the community and nurseries you will see him talking with any one about rhododendrons...even in the local grocery store!

He actively participates in chapter meetings and has often been the auctioneer at Spring auctions.  Specifically, for the Komo Kulshan Chapter, he provides transportation for a few members to the evening meetings.  He is known for helping to raise money by "upping" the bids on rare or unique plants.

The purpose of ARS is to encourage interest in and to disseminate knowledge about rhododendrons and azaleas.  Without a doubt, Jerry achieves this purpose on a regular basis.

It is with great pleasure that the Komo Kulshan Chapter of the ARS presents this Bronze Medal to Jerry Rock, this 15th day of October 2009.

Now to Shirley Rock...who is not only a valuable member and has a passion for fuchsias!  She has served the Komo Kulshan Chapter as secretary/treasurer and currently is treasurer.  She helps with the plant sales and our auction.  Always present and engaging at rhododendron booths, displays, and sales arranged in our communities and local nurseries.  She takes time to teach others by sharing her knowledge and her photographs.

At the ARS level, Shirley volunteered to be chairman of the ARS Membership Committee and develop a program to help chapters identify what works to retain and expand memberships.  She placed this information to DVDs and provided a copy to all ARS chapters.

For our International Annual Convention in Everett, she volunteered to take over the treasurer's responsibilities...onsite...and has vastly improved the system.  She has developed ideas, prepared props and coordinated putting displays together for the chapter's booth at several of the Northwest Flower and Garden Shows in Seattle.

Shirley works well with local and district chapters to achieve the purpose of the American Rhododendron Society.  It is with great pleasure that the Komo Kulshan Chapter presents the Bronze Medal to Shirley Rock on this 15th day of October, 2009.


Paul Lawry
Nanaimo Rhododendron Society


It was with great pleasure the Nanaimo Rhododendron Society awarded Paul Lawry the ARS Bronze Medal for his service to the chapter.  Soon after joining the chapter in 1997, Paul became the newsletter editor, a position he shared with his wife, Linda, for the next seven years.  He has served on the executive committee for more than six years, first as director, then as vice president, and most recently as president.  He and Linda have been important contributions to the chapter through committees and events, including annual auctions, truss shows and plant sales.  Paul has been a great ambassador for the chapter.


Jim Brant
Mid-Atlantic Chapter

The Middle Atlantic Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society presents to James Brant this Bronze Medal Award in recognition of your many contributions to our chapter...year after year...including president, member of the board of directors, and leader of many projects that have benefited Gregory Bald and other Balds for their enhancement and study.  These projects have brought gratitude of the National Park Service and their renewed appreciation of our native species and natural hybrids that are national treasures.

From the time you joined, you always look for what needs doing, and then pitch in with remarkable energy to get it done.  Whether it is helping with chores at meetings, organizing meetings, working on the convention, working on the chapter's exhibit at Maymont Flower Show, or hosting Board and Species Study are always working for the chapter.

For these and other contributions, we gratefully present our chapter's highest honor.  November 7, 2009.


Elaine Sedlack
California Chapter

Elaine Sedlack, you have always been a most enthusiastic member and leader.  You have been generous with your plants, your time, and, especially your knowledge.

California Chapter and the American Rhododendron Society are fortunate to have you in its organization.  For many years you have been a mainstay in our shows.  Your guidance on our board of directors has been most helpful, and the results of your tenure as Cal Chapter president have been invaluable.  At the same time, you have acted as plant chairman and program chairman, and you have provided Cal Chapter with the finest programs.

California Chapter is pleased to honor you with its highest award.  June 17, 2010.


Ellie Gayner
Eureka Chapter

Since you, Ellie Gayner, joined the Eureka Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society in April 2000, you have been an active participant in the chapter's programs and activities.  More importantly, you have been active in promoting the chapter's programs and activities in local media.  These efforts have paid significant dividends for the chapter, which has continued to increase its membership as a result of your efforts.  You have worked long and hard to establish personal relationship with local newspapers, television and radio people thus insuring that your information about chapter activities is fairly and accurately reported.

You have also been involved many other ways in chapter programs.  You are a regular volunteer at the annual Rhododendron Show and Sale.  You have helped with the tasks involved in membership renewal.  You participate in the Eureka Chapter's telephone tree calling members before each meeting.  You have often supplied refreshments for our monthly meetings.

In recognition of these outstanding efforts on behalf of the chapter, the Eureka Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society is proud to award the Bronze Medal to Elli Gayner.


Merle Sanders
Eugene Chapter

The Eugene Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society takes great pleasure in presenting its highest honor, the Bronze Medal, to Merle Sanders.

For many years Eugene Chapter members have been privileged to enjoy companionable good humor, keen insights, and numerous excellent hybrid creations from one of our "southernmost" members...Merle Sanders of Roseburg.

Merle has logged many miles on the 100-mile plus round trip to chapter meetings and flower shows to share these gifts with all of us.  His delightful garden has been an inspiration open to all as we climbed the hillside with Merle and heard his comments on many beautiful rhododendrons growing there.  And, he has put pen to paper in writing many articles for our newsletter...ranging all the way from fun comments to thoughtful observations on the culture of rhododendrons.

We, therefore, gratefully present his recognition to our friend, Merle.

Unfortunately, Merle died on November 22, 2009.  Do refer to notes on his death in the Death Section below.


Ron & Judy McMaster
Mount Arrowsmith Chapter


The American Rhododendron Society Bronze Medal, our highest award for chapter members, is a fitting honor for Ron and Judy McMaster, who have worked diligently for the Mount Arrowsmith Chapter for many years.

Ron has served on the executive committee in many capacities, including president and represented the Island as district alternate director.  As well he has been active in many fund-raising events.

Judy served on the executive for several years and worked on many committees, including the Truss Show and the annual Garden Tour.  Both have willing taken on any chores they were asked to do.  Ron and Judy have also hosted speakers, opened their beautiful seaside home to MARS garden tours and on many occasions welcomed chapter members to windup parties.  MARS salutes you!


Robert Boddy
Noyo Chapter


This award is presented to Bob Boddy for his seemingly endless contributions to horticulture in the Western United States and to the local rhododendron community.

Bob has served as chapter president for the California Association of Nurserymen; western regional president for the International Plant Propagators Society; and a board member of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.  Bob has been an innovator in the nursery business throughout his career that has been ongoing for over half a century.  Currently, his focus is on developing small container plants for home use.  He has been active in the Heather Society, too.

The Noyo Chapter has been fortunate to have Bob as a member for many years.  He is a chapter member, was the chapter's sixth president, has served on the board of directors, the nominating committee, and has worked on the annual Plant Show and Sale.  Bob has hosted several meetings and potlucks at his Descanso Nursery.

He has instructed our members in many aspects of rhododendron propagation and care,  Through the chapter Bob has introduced several new rhododendron hybrids.  These introductions have contributed substantially to the recent financial success ad notoriety of the chapter.  Over the years Bob has contributed countless numbers of plants for our monthly plant raffles and for the show.

Bob has been instrumental in helping the Noyo Chapter fulfill its mission of encouraging interest in and disseminating information about the genus Rhododendron.  It is with great pleasure that the Noyo Chapter presents to Bob Bobby, for the second time, it highest award.


Distinguished Service Citation to Kenneth McDonald, Jr.
Mid-Atlantic Chapter


The Middle Atlantic Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society presents to Kenneth McDonald, Jr., this Distinguished Service Citation.

For nearly 50 years, Ken has served our chapter and the American Rhododendron Society in every way possible.  He has served many terms on our board of directors...eventually being named a director emeritus in perpetuity.  He has served as chapter president, chaired many meetings, served in major capacities for at least two ARS conventions, and the ARS Eastern Regional Conference hosted by our chapter, presented talks, served on many committees, chaired major committees, generously donated plants from his LeMac Nurseries, Inc. for auctions and Plants for Members, participated in every chapter activity, including Flower shows and the species Study Group, participated in our mountain explorations of native species, and advised members on rhododendron culture.

As chairman of the budget and finance committee, Ken has kept our chapter financially healthy and able to fund projects and contributions for worthy causes.  Recently, Ken completed three years of exceptionally conscientious service as our District 9 director of the ARS board.

In 1984, he was honored with our chapter's Bronze Medal Award.  For Ken's many years of exemplary service in so many capacities, we now present this Distinguished Service Citation on November 7, 2009, in Fredericksburg, Virginia.



Brian Keim
Greater Philadelphia Chapter


The Greater Philadelphia Chapter’s Newsletter started off with a sad note, the unexpected passing of Brian Keim, age 67, on August 26.  He was a gardener, a lawyer, and an involved member of his church.

Brian grew up in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  He was a graduate of Yale University and earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.  He worked for law firms in Philadelphia and New York and specialized in financial management.  Prior to his retirement in 2009, he was vice president and general counsel of LWB Refractories Co., York, PA.

He was very involved in the Evangelical Lutheran church and helped in its merger and formation.  With his expertise in finance and mergers, he served on the boards of St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Artman Lutheran Home, and Liberty Lutheran Services, and facilitated their growth and activities.  He also served on the board of trustees, including as president of the Meadowbrook School.

Brian was every active in the American Rhododendron Society.  He was elected president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter for two terms in 1986 and 1990.  Brian volunteered his time and knowledge in the chapter's Plant Sales, Flower Shows, and Plants for Members activities.  The Chapter awarded Brian the ARS Bronze Medal in 1994.

With his wife, Cathy, he created at their home in Rydal a large garden featuring hundreds of rhododendrons and azaleas.  He loved shrubs with blue flowers and tested many cultivars.  Their garden was featured on tour during the ARS Annual Convention in 2004 and on chapter garden tours.

Brian and Cathy consistently entered many flowers in the chapter's Truss Shows.  Over the years, the Keims were awarded 33 Trust Show trophies, an outstanding achievement.


Bob Wilkinson
Greater Philadelphia Chapter


Bob Wilkinson, long-time member of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter, died in his sleep on August 12.  Bob had been an active member until illness took him and he moved to California to live with his brother and seek medical treatment there.  He grew up in Philadelphia and was for many years an engineer with the Philadelphia Water Department.

With his wife, Judi Meade, he developed a lush garden in Roxborough.  They filled their grounds with many varieties of rhododendrons, some collected on trips to the West Coast.  The survivors of these tender plants rewarded theme with beautiful flowers and foliage.  Bob was passionate about "the Fuzzies" or plants displaying colorful indumentum or tomentum on their leaves.  He appeared to swoon when talking about the touch of his favorite leaves.

Bob was active in the workings of the chapter.  He and Judi chaired the Annual Plant Sales for many years.  He helped found the chapter's Plants for Members Program in 1987 with Dan Layman.  He managed this activity until his move West.  They were keenly competitive in the annual Truss Shows...typically entering varieties that no one else in the region grew or had seven seen.  The Greater Philadelphia Chapter awarded the ARS Bronze Medal to Bob and Judi in 1993.

Bob and Judi started Shawmont Nursery and propagated rhododendrons and companion plants.  Some of these could be purchased at the chapter's Plant Sales.  Their nursery was the only source for many rare plants.  Judi predeceased Bob in August 2002.


Jane Goodrich
Potomac Valley Chapter


Jane Goodrich, a long-time member of the Potomac Valley Chapter, passed away early in the morning, November 22.  She had suffered a stroke two weeks prior to her death.  Our deepest sympathy is extended to her family.

Jane was a recipient of the ARS Bronze Medal and a past secretary of the Potomac Valley Chapter.  She, along with her late husband, Ray, was also a member of the Gable Study Committee, Jane serving as its secretary.  She probably knew more about the Joe Gable hybrids than anyone active today.  She has spoken to the chapter about the Gable rhododendrons and served as one of the judges at our show in May.  Jane might admit to being a bit biased, however, I heard her say many times something to the effect that:  "If it's not a rhododendron, it's a weed.  And, if it's not a Gable, it could be a bit suspect."  (Often in much stronger terms than that!)  I used to think this was going a bit too far, but the more Gable plants I see and the more I learn about them, I'm beginning to think she had it right all along!  She will certainly be missed.


Merle Sanders
Eugene Chapter


On November 22, 2009, Eugene Chapter lost one of its long-time members, Merle Sanders, just weeks after being awarded the chapter's Bronze Medal.  Known as a hard-working man from the Melrose area of Roseburg, a man with a great big smile, he described himself as "just an old logger", he wore other hats besides a steel hard hat.

He was a knowledgeable gardener, a hybridizer of rhododendrons and daylilies...and his garden was full of lovely perennials.  With all that, he also preached the Biblical word to a flock of believers in his area.  Be that as it may, Merle's words:  "Prune, Prune, Prune!" will forever ring in my psyche!

Big round colorful trusses on nicely shaped plants were Merle's goal...he was a master at raising bushy plants with hundreds of trusses.  When deadheading, he counted every bloom on each bush he pinched unsightly dried seed pods on Merle's rhodies.  When cedar bark was thought to contain deleterious elements when used as a mulch on rhododendrons, Merle used and promoted cedar bark to good advantage.

When showing his trusses, he won his share...but was as disappointed as most if a favorite  wasn't at least a runner-up to best in show, but didn't bemoan afterwards that "the judges just didn't know what they were doing!" as one often hears.  Some of his registered hybrids are:  'Gentle Giant', 'Melrose Flash', 'Royal Ruffles', 'Dreamy Cream', 'Just a Pink', and 'Belva's Joy'.

Merle wrote many articles for the chapter's newsletter over the years full of good ideas not so great on style or spelling...but courageously and purposefully written out in long hand.  Few members were so generous as he when it came to newsletter contributions.  When visiting our garden some years ago, he and Belva brought us a couple of his un-bloomed potted seedlings.  One of them is a cheery plant with a somewhat lax truss of gorgeous pink blooms.  Probably jot Merle's choice but I call it 'Editor's Choice'.

Missing this good man, besides his beloved rhododendrons, and the Eugene Chapter, are Merle's widow, Belva, and their son, Dennis, who has a named hybrid of his own, 'Dennis's Gem'.  Perhaps Dennis will walk in his father's footsteps.

--Frances Burns


Dr. Frank Mossman
Portland Chapter


Dr. Frank Mossman died on November 2, 2009 from aortic stenosis.  There are wonderful stories to be told about this interesting and feisty rhododendron collector, grower, and hybridizer.

All of the tributes seem to agree that Frank was generous with his time and plants and had a way of expressing himself in a unique manner.  E. White Smith was Frank's friend for over 35 years and indicated that Lake Wilderness Arboretum will be receiving many of Frank's plants.  He was also a good record keeper and the records go with the plants.  The R. occidentale Garden at Lake Wilderness will be a fine memorial to both Frank and his plant-hunting partner, Britt Smith.

Dick Cavender noted that Frank was active "right up to the last."  One course, Dick says, Frank was 91.  There was no memorial service.  He will be missed sorely and we offer our sympathy to Frank's son, Mark and his sister.  Frank's wife, Doris, died some years ago.


Eileen (Marvel) Landregan
Portland Chapter


Portland Chapter member Eileen Landregan died on April 8.  She was 85.  Eileen had been a very active member in previous years and had been awarded the ARS Bronze Medal in 1986.  Both Eileen and her husband, Bob, were active members of the Portland chapter.  Bob was awarded the Bronze Medal in 1988 and had served as chapter president from 1972-1974.  Eileen is survived by her niece Jane Alzner; and nephews, Dave, Stephen, Kevin, and Tom Hicks.  Bob died earlier.


Fran (Ackerman) Van Veen
Portland Chapter


A key support for the Van Veen family, Fran Van Veen, died on April 18, at the age of 92.  She had sustained injuries after a fall earlier this Spring.  Fran was born in Portland.  In addition to being a homemaker, she wrapped and mailed thousands of Ted's book, Rhododendrons in America from their basement.  Survivors include from John Ackerman and three grandchildren, plus daughters Kathy Van Veen and Diane Barnes


Margaret White
Potomac Chapter


Margaret White died in January 2010...just a few weeks short of her 104th birthday.  The White estate has been left to Fairfax County and will become the John C. and Margaret K. White Horticultural Center.

ARS Western Regional Conference
October 8-10, 2010

Hosted by the Siuslaw Chapter of ARS District 4.  The 2010 Western Regional conference will be held in Florence, Oregon.  Many activities are planned for the three day event, including talks by Harold Greer, Steve Hootman, Mike Stewart, Kath Collier and Chris Trautmann.

Australian Rhododendron Society
October 17-20, 2010
  Australian Rhododendron Society celebrates their Golden Jubilee, October 17-20, in the Dandenong Ranges. A real celebration. Saluting the past, celebrating the present, anticipating the future. Features workshops with informed speakers, visits to gardens featuring vireyas and Asiatics in a rainforest setting, see native wildlife, and more.
New Zealand Rhododendron Association
Oct 26 - 29, 2010
  New Zealand Rhododendron Association Conference, Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka, NZ, October 26-29. For more information:

ARS-ASA Annual Convention
May 4-8, 2012

  ARS-ASA Annual Convention, District 10, Southeastern Chapter, Asheville, N.C., May 4-8.  Come and enjoy a joint convention with outstanding gardens to visit:  Bob Stelloh Garden, Charles Dexter Owen Garden, Ed Collins Garden of over a thousand rhododendrons and azaleas and much more; James and Mary Ann Stewart Garden with probably the largest private collection of magnolias in the world.  The beautiful Asheville Crowne Plaza Golf and Tennis Resort will be the host hotel.  More information to follow.

Something special to think about!

Flowers always make people
feel better
and more helpful;
They are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul.

--Luther Burbank

(Shared from Mason-Dixon Chapter)


The editor’s apology is in order:

The editor’s cup has been overflowing and her challenge is to get the R&A News out before leaving for Australia and New Zealand in early October.  And, she realizes there are a more entries to be made … time is zeroing in … and these will be made in the Winter issue.  Trusting all will understand!

American Rhododendron Society
Executive Director: P.O. Box 525,  Niagara Falls, NY 14304
Ph: 416-424-1942   Fax: 905-262-1999   E-Mail:
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