The team | View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:06 am



Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
 The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canada 
Author Message

Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:23 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Poland
Post The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canada
I'm not a part of this community, as I live in Europe, but I take benefit from it, as the best rhododendron hybrids (imho) were created in the US. Not in England, not in Germany, but the best ones for Central Europe are those created in the US (mostly New England). And I wanted to ask - is there an influx of young people to the rhododendron growers community seen, or the interest is declining, and the future is bleak? The golden era was for sure the 20th century, but maybe the great tradition of the past will continue in the next decades? What I see through the internet is the ARS chapters activity is dwindling. Tim, David, John: What are your opinions?

_________________
Tomasz


Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:39 am
Profile

Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:37 pm
Posts: 219
Location: Halifax, NS
Post Re: The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canad
To eastern North America I'd add the very important and interesting work done in Denmark and Sweden.

Our very active chapter of about 250 members - Atlantic - has about 15-20 members under 30 and that is very encouraging. However while many of those young ones are keen on rhodos and interesting plants none are active hybridizers. The young in general are simply too mobile - condo-living with frequent job-jumping from one side of the continent to the other and round the world. Land is getting very expensive and quite out of reach of young. Hybridizing, or what's left of it, is done by the over 60s crowd - a dwindling art - and they are running out of space and energy.

Over the past 30 years we've imported many thousands of rhodos from the west coast and east coast, as well distributed many locally produced hybrids. The result is our enthusiastic, as well as aged, members now have gardens too full of rhododendrons, now the problem is what to do with the culls - that may necessitate a whole new committee to get these into public spaces or display gardens.

If I had it to do over again I'd concentrate on species as our coastal areas seem to suit a very broad range despite what the books might suggest.

In short the fate of hybridizing and societies in general is rather grim.

john


Last edited by johnw on Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:43 pm
Profile

Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 12:01 pm
Posts: 327
Location: Maryland, USA
Post Re: The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canad
"as about 15-20 members under 30"

Wow,that's shocking and probably reflects to some degree the fact that Canada is a commonwealth country while the US is not. I think a pretty well informed guess about the TOTAL number of serious horticulturalists under 40 in the USA (i.e., not merely people majoring in horticulture to go into it as a vocation, but pursuing what might be called 'art horticulture'..and are willing to make it a lifestyle) is no more than 100 or 200. So good for Canada, that's a huge chunk of them who are just into rhododendrons...and for a much smaller country, population wise.

In the field of rhododendrons, specifically, I am now a member in my early 40s of the ARS, and have seen there is a young lady who writes some articles for their journal. I believe she might be considered to have a "legacy interest", having parents who involved in the society. Other than that? Of the tiny handful of shall we say, publicly known young serious horticulturalists - Ian Barclay, who like me would be formerly young in any other hobby, but still are young by horticulture standards, Riz Reyes, Mr. Nhu late of Hawaii IIRC, etc...have a tendency to either see rhodies as 'old fashioned' or not trendily native. Ian specifically feels ambivalent about them because they need watering during most summers in the PNW. I actually briefly exchanged emails with an avant-garde artist in Baltimore a few years ago about buying some of his work (as the cheapest big northeastern city to live in anymore, by far, there are plenty of extremely indie people there) and when we discovered a shared interest in horticulture he told me he was very passionate about natives and only wanted to landscape with them. I guess my point is there are plenty of reasons for people not to be into horticulture these days at all...the general harried impatience of our culture...but even more reasons for them not to be into rhododendrons. So it's great you are getting so many young people involved.

Granted the way I'm defining horticulture might be somewhat narrow. There could be I suppose, 100 households under 40 in the Bay Area who shop at Annies and want to have a certain kind of trendy looking Bay Area garden...but I'm sort of judging on a curve and saying since that is to some degree the norm there, those people ought to be more considered "serious residents of the Bay Area" than "serious horticulturalists". (from visiting much of the US now, I would say that the Bay Area has the most evidently serious gardening culture, the PNW next, and the Philly-NYC conurbation 3rd)

As a final note though, I think it's important to point out there has been and probably always will be a kind of selection bias with who goes into 'art' horticulture as a serious hobby and/or career. If you take Ellen Hornig for example...surely a candidate for most important American plantswoman of the past 20 years...well she was an English professor at Oswego College, and a successful mother for the first part of her life. Then became a plantswoman. Then gave it up and sold her garden to move away and take care of her ill husband. So, there's that. But I'm not the only one by any means to notice that young people don't find horticulture as appealing as they used to...Richard Murcott, LI rhodie breeder, has an article about that subject on his website. And he should know, since his son...who I'm sure is a good guy with a good relationship with his dad, nonetheless casually derided his father's work by asking me if I was "here to see the flowahs" when he answered the door LOL. An anecdote I'm using to summarize the fact that, usually in the US at least, children do not inherit their parent's horticultural proclivities.

PS - while the subject is going, I remember perusing old copies of "The Garden" at a US university library, and seeing that there used to be a column about young horticulturalists, featuring a different one in each issue. Those were from the 80s and early 90s. I have some later copies from 2005 onward, about 6 I bought on ebay, and I don't remember seeing that feature. Anyone else remember it?


Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:20 pm
Profile

Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:56 pm
Posts: 409
Location: Seekonk, Massachusetts USA, USDA zone 6b
Post Re: The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canad
I'm a member of the Massachusetts Chapter and I've not seen any young people (under age 50) at the meetings/events I've attended. The lack of youth is concerning.


Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:54 am
Profile

Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:37 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Hollywood Florida USA
Post Re: The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canad
I'm afraid this trend is not only in the rhododendron community but in both the Palm and tropicals groups are seeing few younger members.

_________________
Mike


Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:29 am
Profile

Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:23 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Poland
Post Re: The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canad
Thank you for your takes on the subject, guys.

John, many people start gardening when they retire and the popular belief is that plants growing is a hobby for the old people. Hence such a substantial number of young members in your chapter is really something. I'm 39, got a serious rhododendron rush four years ago, and got my first rhododendrons from seed only this year (which is a pity). I'll probably start hybridizing in 5-10 years at the earliest (when most of my plants will start to flower). So, maybe this art is not a critically endangered species after all.

_________________
Tomasz


Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:56 am
Profile

Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:37 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Hollywood Florida USA
Post Re: The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canad
You have pointed out the main reason the gardening hobby in general is fading from the current generation...patience or the lack thereof.
The Instant gratification demanded by the youth of today is incompatible.
I have friends that make croton crosses which they then determine if they have characteristics worth a followup.
In some cases two years of nurturing and observation winds up in the junk pile...yet they carry on. I don't see younger folks with this sometime unrewarding effort.
While I belong to both the Palm Society & Tropical Fern Society I can't imagine the dwindling numbers of the Orchid or Flowering Tree societies.

_________________
Mike


Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:12 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 4:02 pm
Posts: 2311
Location: Germany USDA 8b
Post Re: The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canad
Quote:
but I take benefit from it, as the best rhododendron hybrids (imho) were created in the US.


Tomasz,

it would be interesting to know, what exactly makes them so good.

I can only imagine, that there are issues with hardiness in central and eastern central Europe. If so, it's easily explained by the fact, that the US east coast climate has much harsher winters, than the areas in northwestern Germany (around Westerstede), were most german Rhodo nurseries are sited, let alone the even milder climate on the British Isles. NW Germany still has a fair maritime influence and is far from being truely continental, sparing only the occasional arctic outbreak from Siberia once every 10-15 years.

Would be nice to know about your experience, Tomasz!


Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:57 am
Profile

Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:23 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Poland
Post Re: The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canad
American hybridizers from the East Coast put much emphasize to heat tolerance and bud hardiness (not only overall hardiness) of rhododendrons. German hybridizers tend to overuse yak, wardii and yak and wardii hybrids in their work (at least that's my opinion). Of course there are some very good or even outstanding German hybrids - K.-H. Hubbers alone has created many (for example 'Dotella', a hybrid little known outside Poland - thankfully he has a Polish connection - which has deep red flowers that don't fade, a beautiful truss, is a compact plant, can take wind, sun, heat, and - to some extent - even drought).

I like rhododendrons with large flowers the most, and German hybridizers create little of these.

_________________
Tomasz


Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:31 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 4:02 pm
Posts: 2311
Location: Germany USDA 8b
Post Re: The future of rhododendron community in the US and Canad
Interesting, Tomasz.

So I take it bud hardiness is one of the main issues.

Apart from the large leaved sp. from the Grandia and Falconera section, I'm not very interested in Rh, generally. I was under the impression, that here in Germany the breeders focus on resistance against the bud fungus, that is transmitted by the cicadas. I'd agree, that most hybrids here have rather dull boring foliage, must be the yak heritage. Our summers become warmer and Rh. and Hydrangea will be a thing of the past in a few decades, probably. Since their bloomtime is rather short, you have an increasing pool of alternatives, that are way superior, both in terms of foliage and flowers.

Btw. H├╝bbers has bred pretty nice Kalmias (quite tough plants IMO) and the garden is always worth visiting.


Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:27 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 10 posts ] 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware for PTF.