Appalachian Spring Event
"Appalachian Spring", the 2012 ARS-ASA International Convention takes place May 4 – 7, 2012 in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, in the heart of the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains where native azaleas and rhododendrons burst into bloom every spring.
Visit the event's enormous plant sale. Over 3,000 plants are being grown for the sale, featuring the hybridizing efforts of local plants men James Harris, Velma Haag, George Beasley, Augie Kehr, James Todd, Don Johnson, Kelly Strickland, and Earl Sommerville.
Four fabulous days of tours are planned for your enjoyment and wonder. We will be visiting a variety of beautiful gardens in Asheville and Hendersonville, North Carolina, and just across the border in South Carolina.
Tours include the Biltmore Estate and Gardens, this Frederick Law Olmsted designed estate has the largest single family home in America, the Charles Dexter Owen Garden, with a large collection of Dexter hybrids, the North Carolina Arboretum, whose 65 acres of cultivated gardens pay tribute to the region's rich cultural heritage, and the Ed and Mary Collins Garden, featuring dwarf rhododendrons, evergreen and deciduous azaleas, dwarf conifers and may perennials, wildflowers, and unusual trees.
Other gardens open for touring include the James and Mary Ann Stewart Garden, previously owned by Dr. August "Augie" Kehr, with one of the largest collection of magnolias in the U.S., the Bob and Audrey Stelloh Garden, with many native wildflowers, mountain laurels and thousands of choice azaleas and rhododendrons, and the Doley and Melody Bell Garden with an estimated 3000 rhododendrons, including Dexter, Haag, Leach, Kehr, Gilkey, Delp, Van Veen, Richardson, and Lee hybrid rhododendrons, and Glenn Dale, Back Acre, Exbury, and Girard hybrid azaleas.
Guest speakers at the event include: Don Hyatt - talking about plant diversity in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Nicholas Yarmoshuk and Christina Woodward - discussing cold-hardy rhododendrons for diverse locales, and Dr. Thomas Ranney - talking on how the unique azaleas found on Gregory and Wayah Balds in the Appalachian Mountains evolved from complex hybridization among the native species.
Both members and non-members are welcomed at the 2012 ARS-ASA International Convention. We hope to see you there!
The World in Your Garden
One of the biggest dilemmas rhododendron gardeners face is whether or not to leave their own gardens for a few days to attend the American Rhododendron Society's Annual Convention. Usually held in April or May, and alternating between the East and West coasts, these meetings aim to bring together 200-300 rhododendron enthusiasts to visit public and private gardens at their peak of perfection. This year the Annual Convention is being held in Vancouver, WA on May 11-15, 2011.
Garden hosts often prepare for several years for these visits, grooming and primping their gardens to be seen by visitors from all over the world. Plants are labeled, garden maps printed, neighbors roped in to help guide and sometimes even goodies baked for the guests. These are after all some of the best of the best private gardens and some of the most knowledgeable people in the world about the genus Rhododendron.
Our first conference, 20+ years ago, was a big unknown. Would we feel out of place or overwhelmed by the level of technical detail? On the contrary, we found that this group of garden lovers were the most friendly and welcoming people imaginable. This wasn't a technical conference this was a group of like minded individuals who gathered to enjoy the fruits of each others' labor. It wasn't a series of lectures with garden visits, it was definitely a unique opportunity for garden visits with a several interesting lectures thrown in.
Most conferences seek to bring in speakers who are well regarded in their home area, but rarely available in the conference area. This way a lot of local people will be interested in their presentations as well as those like us who have become addicted to traveling from far away. This year the keynote speaker is Hartwig Schepker from Bremen - famous for being the organizer of the last year's fabulous 75th Anniversary Conference of the German Rhododendron Society. It promises to be a very entertaining evening.
Read more about the ARS Annual Convention, and don't hesitate for a moment to leave your garden for a few days to go to the Vancouver, WA event, you'll have no regrets.