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2012 Convention | Azalea Society of America

  2012 Convention     overview | tours | speakers | sponsors | plants | schedule | committee | weather || related pages

Blue Ridge Parkway
ARS+ASA Joint Convention • APPALACHIAN SPRING 2012 • Asheville NC • May 4-7, 2012
. . . a visit among the Blue Ridge Mountains . . .

  latest news as of March 25, 2012:
status . . . registration is closed, in general—the only available events are the Friday Board Lunch, a few Friday Biltmore tours, the Friday Welcome Reception, and the Sunday ASA banquet • the wait lists for the other events are so full we are not adding to them.

hotel rooms . . . our block of reduced-rate rooms at the Crowne Plaza hotel has 10 rooms available: call 800-733-3211 for reservations. If they are taken, here are some alternatives:
• the Crowne Plaza has villas with convertible sofas in the living room to hold one, two or three couples at convention rates of $129 (1 bedroom), $159 (2 bedrooms): call 800-733-3211 for reservations;
Holiday Inn Express & Suites
1 Wedgefield Drive (5.5 miles southwest of the Crowne Plaza at I-26 and NC 191)
Asheville, NC 28806
Phone: 828-665-6519 (mention "Rhododendron-Azalea convention" to get $95 F-S or $85 S-M-T-W-T rates);
• there are many other hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts within several miles of the Crowne Plaza hotel, some within walking distance of downtown Asheville (try Kayak or other travel websites for their locations and rates);
• our hotel liaison Marilyn Haynes, 828-696-2996 will be glad to help you

what . . . the Southeastern Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society (ARS) and the Vaseyi Chapter of the Azalea Society of America (ASA) invite you to experience Appalachian Spring 2012, the 2012 joint international convention and annual meetings of the ASA and ARS during May 4 - May 7, 2012 in Asheville, North Carolina.

where . . . our convention headquarters is the beautiful Crowne Plaza Resort, One Resort Drive, Asheville NC 28806, a justly famous tennis and golf resort hotel located on 125 acres one mile west of downtown Asheville, with free parking and free shuttle service to downtown Asheville. We will be visiting beautiful gardens in Asheville and Hendersonville, North Carolina, and near Greenville, South Carolina, and we will be seeing our native plants in bloom along parts of the famous Blue Ridge Parkway.

when . . . the convention dates of May 4 - May 7, 2012 are usually peak bloom time for azaleas and rhododendrons in the Asheville area, so be prepared to see a lot of flowers! If at all possible, consider coming a few days before the convention or stay a few days afterwards and take in some more of the sights, because we can't begin to fit them all into our few short days of tours. To help with that, the Crowne Plaza Resort reduced room rates start five days before the convention and continue five days after the convention, and we will provide information about many more local gardens and other attractions to visit.

who . . . Appalachian Spring 2012 is open to everyone with an interest in azaleas or rhododendrons. If you are not yet a member of the ASA or the ARS, just add the appropriate membership fee on your registration form to become a member through 2013, including membership in a local ARS chapter or ASA chapter of your choice.

why . . . visit with your old friends and make new friends, visit outstanding private and public gardens, see our native azaleas and rhododendrons in the wild, hear outstanding speakers who are both informative and entertaining, share and enjoy show-quality flower trusses and pictures . . . and buy lots of choice rhododendrons and azaleas, both species and hybrids, some of them very hard to find, and all of them beautiful and well-grown.

how . . . sorry, registration is closed as of 3/25/12—see the top of the page for details
. . . register: download, print and complete the convention registration form, then mail it with a check in US funds drawn on a US bank only to the address on the form (if that is difficult for you, email the registrar for other options); and do it soon to be sure to get in—we are filling up rapidly—see the top of the page for the very few open events . . . and

. . . reserve your hotel room at the Crowne Plaza Resort, One Resort Drive, Asheville NC 28806: call 800-733-3211 and say your reservation is for the "Rhododendron Convention" to get the reduced convention rates starting at $99 (and do it now—only 214 rooms are being held for us at those rates through April 30, 2012) . . . and finally

. . . get here—either:
• fly to the Asheville (AVL) airport and either drive 10 miles on I-26 W or take the Crowne Plaza shuttle ($20/person or $50/van up to 6 persons) with advance notice via this request form; or
• fly to the Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) airport and drive 75 miles on I-85 N to I-26 W; or
• drive here—Asheville is a long one-day drive from around Chicago, Washington DC, Florida, New Orleans, East Texas or St Louis.


The Vaseyi Chapter of the Azalea Society of America (ASA) and the Southeastern Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society (ARS) welcome y'all to experience the many delights of the Asheville area, ranging from the many beautiful gardens we will visit, to the amazingly diverse botanical treasures of the Blue Ridge Mountains we will see along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The convention opens on Friday, May 4 with the registration desk opening at 12:00 pm, the plant sale opening at 3:00 pm and a welcome reception beginning at 4:00 pm (don't miss this—there will be lots of appetizers, enough to call it dinner, along with a cash bar and live music). The full schedule is shown below. Plan to arrive early, so you can be settled in before the welcome reception. Better yet, plan to arrive a few days early or stay a few days later to enjoy some of the many pre- and post-convention on-your-own tours we have suggested for you.

Flower Show   We hope you bring some of your rhododendron trusses and azalea sprays to enter in the convention flower show. It will be judged, as it is also the 53rd Annual Flower Show of the Southeastern Chapter ARS. You can download the flower show rules here, you can download a list of the azalea entry classes here, and a list of the rhododendron entry classes here. The flower show will be open to submit your entries on Thursday and Friday afternoons. It will be open for our viewing starting Friday evening, and open to the public on Saturday.

Photo Contest   We also hope you bring some of your azalea and rhododendron pictures to enter in the photo print contest (download the rules here). The photo contest will be open for our viewing starting Friday evening, and open to the public on Saturday.

Asheville is an interesting city to visit, with winding hilly streets and historic Art Deco architectural gems, hundreds of arts and crafts galleries and communities, lots of great restaurants, outdoor recreational opportunities, and a variety of entertainment and night life. It was founded in 1792 in the valley formed by the French Broad and Swannanoa rivers between the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains.

With a population of around 85,000, Asheville is the largest city in western North Carolina. Called the "Paris of the South", it has made a number of "top 10" lists: one of the "10 Most Beautiful Places in America" (Good Morning America, 2011); the "Happiest City for Women" (Self magazine, 2002); one of the world's top 12 must-see destinations and one of the top 7 places to live in the U.S. (Frommer's travel guides, 2007); and one of the "Best Places to Reinvent Your Life" (AARP Magazine, 2003). Be careful: many people who visit Asheville come back again—and again—and end up moving here.   Asheville, North Carolina skyline
Asheville, North Carolina skyline

At 2200' elevation, Asheville in early May averages 50°F in the evening, and 70°F during the day, with rain expected about every three days for less than an inch per week. See weather for the current weather forecast.

Plant diversity in the Asheville area is second only to the tropical rainforests, due to a unique combination of circumstances. Around 10 million years ago, land bridges connected Asia, America and Europe, and plants migrated freely. As the bridges disappeared and the climate changed, plants migrated to the eastern coasts of Asia and America for more reliable moisture. About 10 thousand years ago, glaciers in America pushed the northern plant species south, leaving many of them here as the glaciers retreated. Finally, the mountain ridges, slopes, seeps, coves and valleys in the area provide the wide variety of habitats and microclimates needed for these plant seedlings to thrive, due to the changes in moisture, drainage, temperature, and wind and sun exposure, all within very short distances of each other.

The result is a marvelously varied assemblage of plant species, including hundreds found nowhere else or otherwise found only in the north. Many of these treasures are protected by being on public land, including the Blue Ridge Mountains and Smoky Mountains. They are readily accessible on foot by way of the Appalachian Trail, and by car on the Blue Ridge Parkway and many connecting roads. For example, at Fetterbush Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway you can park your car, walk across the road and touch three of the rarest woody plant species in the world* while standing in one place (well, you might have to move your feet a little). Because it is such a good place for plants, it's a good place for plant lovers as well. It's why a number of plant scientists retired to the area, including Dr. August Kehr and two former directors of the US National Arboretum: Dr. Henry Skinner and Dr. John Creech.


We will be visiting beautiful gardens in Asheville and Hendersonville, North Carolina, and just across the border in South Carolina. The tours include:
• an early-bird tour of the Biltmore Estate on Friday May 4th for those able to come a day early;
• all-day garden tours on Saturday May 5th;
• all-day garden tours on Sunday May 6th; and
• a bonus tour on Monday May 7th for those able to stay another day.

We have also documented do-it-yourself tour possibilities before and after the convention:
locations, descriptions and maps of many more gardens, nurseries and other attractions for you to visit; and
descriptions and directions for five tours to see native azaleas, primarily R. vaseyi, and other native plants of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We are offering a pre-convention tour of the Biltmore Estate house and gardens to the first 100 guests able to arrive a day early.

The Biltmore Estate gardens have a long and distinguished horticultural heritage that began with the construction of the Biltmore House, designed by Richard Morris Hunt and built in 1889 for George Washington Vanderbilt. With 250 rooms and 4 acres of floor space, it is the largest single family home in America, and was ranked the 8th most interesting structure in the United States in a poll by the American Institute of Architects. It was originally surrounded by 125,000 acres of land, now 8,000 acres.

The focus of our visit is the gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and particularly the Azalea Garden with many azaleas originally collected by Chauncey Beadle throughout the southeastern US. The gardens were brought to fruition by Chauncey Beadle and many others. The Biltmore nursery, developed to provide the millions of plants needed for the gardens, became one of the largest commercial nurseries in existence. It covered almost 300 acres and had 75,000 square feet of greenhouse and coldframe space. At one time the Biltmore nursery catalog was so extensive and the plant descriptions so complete it was used as a textbook for Plant Material classes in some universities.

The ambitious plans were eventually abandoned and many of the unusual specimens collected by Beadle found a home in the Glen. Years later Beadle's collection of native azaleas was also added to the Glen and the name was changed to the Azalea Garden. As your bus drives along the Approach Road, try to imagine that originally this was an almost blank slate waiting to be planted in Olmsted's naturalistic style, incorporating both native and exotic plants to achieve his desired effect of subtropical luxuriance.

You will be dropped off at the entrance to the Shrub Garden to ramble. From there you will take a self guided tour through the Shrub Garden, Spring Garden, Walled Garden, and Conservatory, ultimately arriving at the Azalea Garden to admire the extensive collection of azaleas and other unique plants. The lower part of this garden contains magnificent examples of Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), China Fir (Cunninghamia lanceolata), Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), and Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla).

Planted under the trees is an equally interesting shrub layer. Look for the rare Disanthus cercidifolius peeking out from under the Hydrangeas and tree-like Cephalotaxus. Other plants of interest are the large Stinking Cedars (Torreya taxifolia), a very large Persian Ironwood (Parrotia persica), and Cut leaf European Beech (Fagus sylvatica 'Asplenifolia'). It is worth noting that Dr. Michael Dirr made an annual pilgrimage with students to the estate while teaching at UGA. Of the over 325 genera listed in his Manual Of Woody Landscape Plants, almost 200 are represented in these gardens.

After visiting the gardens, you are welcome to tour the "largest single family home in America". Expect to spend about 90 minutes in the house. Lunch at any of a number of restaurants, with the Stable Restaurant being the closest, just to the right of the house. Return to the Shrub Garden by 2:30 pm for a ride back to the Crowne Plaza Resort on your tour bus.

BILTMORE ON YOUR OWN   If you cannot join the group tour, you can easily tour the Biltmore Estate (just 7 miles from the Crowne Plaza Resort) on your own. You can save $10 by buying your ticket online at least seven days in advance (the current advance purchase price is $49). Full information is available at the Biltmore Estate website.

The tour price includes a hot buffet breakfast starting at 6:30 and a delicious picnic lunch on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We will board the buses by 8 am sharp.

Saturday: Charles Dexter Owen Garden
Owen Garden   This fabulous garden belonging to Charles Owen, Jr is in Biltmore Forest, near the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. A confusion of names might seem to occur until you realize that Charles Dexter Owen was related to Charles Owen Dexter, hybridizer of the Dexter rhododendrons at Heritage Museum and Gardens on Cape Cod. This 3 1/2 acre property has a large collection of Dexter hybrid rhododendrons, with over 40 varieties. Many are original plants from his great grandfather's nephew, Charles Owen Dexter, shipped from the original Dexter garden on Cape Cod "by fully loaded box cars". The house, built in 1936, is located on the back third of the property with a full wall of rhododendrons cascading over a 50 foot long brick wall on the parking area. The front terrace of the house looks out onto a huge outdoor "room" surrounded by a five foot holly hedge. Perennial beds in each corner soften the view. Beyond the hedge are newer plantings of native azaleas, a recent interest of the current owner, 'Charlie' Owen. Total privacy is maintained in the garden by 60 foot trees around three sides of the property. On the street side, scattered trees remain with rhododendrons throughout. Only the side of the house is visible from the street.

Saturday: North Carolina Arboretum at Asheville
The Arboretum, established in 1986 by the North Carolina General Assembly, is an affiliate campus of the University of North Carolina. The Arboretum's mission 'To Cultivate Connections Between People and Plants' is accomplished through education, economic development, research, conservation, and garden demonstration. Located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest of the Pisgah National Forest a few minutes south of Asheville, the 434-acre Arboretum property encompasses 65 acres of cultivated gardens and 10 miles of forested hiking/biking trails.
  azalea and butterfly

The garden themes reflect the cultural and natural heritage of the Southern Appalachians, demonstrate the formal and informal, the man-made and the natural aspects prevalent on this property. They help people understand the role of plants in their lives. Emphasis is given to the ecological, horticultural and educational value of plants native to the Southern Appalachian region, their relatives from other geographic regions, and other non-native plants, cultivars, and selections suitable for landscape use. Several gardens you may see during your visit include: the Quilt Garden with colorful raised beds designed after traditional quilt patterns; the Heritage Garden featuring plants used in traditional folk medicine and crafts of the Appalachians; the Bonsai Exhibition Garden showcasing one of the best collections of bonsai in the Southeastern United States, with special emphasis on native plants; and the Canopy Garden, which includes 75 unnamed Dexter hybrids given by Charles Dexter Owen, Jr. Other features include the Baker Exhibit Center, which welcomes visitors and features special exhibits on science, art and culture; the Education Center; a state-of-the-art production greenhouse; and the Operations Center with "green roof" technology.
Most importantly to us, the Arboretum is home to the National Native Azalea Collection, approximately 8 acres in size, bordered by Bent Creek. It has an overhead canopy of pines and hardwood trees and an understory of native rhododendrons, dogwood, New York fern, doghobble and a multitude of seasonal wildflowers. Two level loop trails with secondary trails wind through the garden, allowing access to the various parts of the area. The garden was established to maintain a germplasm collection of azalea species native to the US, and to interpret the diversity and value of native azaleas and their companion plants. The collection currently holds over 100 mature plants including 16 of the 17 azalea species native to the US and some of their named selections and hybrids.National Native Azalea Collection sign

Saturday: Blue Ridge Parkway
We will tour the Blue Ridge Parkway to view wildflowers, azaleas and rhododendrons in the wild. For a preview, check out this Parkway picture travelogue (we will start at milepost 393, and may get as far as milepost 423 before returning). The Blue Ridge Parkway is the "Appalachian Trail for cars". It runs 469 miles along the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains, from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. The Parkway has frequent turnouts and scenic overlooks for seemingly endless view of parallel ranges, cross ranges and scattered hills, protected by an actively enforced prohibition against disturbing wild animals and plants in any way. Begun in 1935 as a Depression-era public works project, it was largely completed by 1967. Because of the range in elevation from 649 to 6,047 feet, peak bloom for a given plant species varies over a long period of time (about a day per 100 feet).

Although some of the native azalea and rhododendron species will not be in bloom in early May, we should be seeing R. vaseyi and R. minus var. carolinianum—at least they were blooming on May 1, 2002 at milepost 416.9 near the Looking Glass overlook, 4492' elevation, as shown in the picture. To get prepared, you can see a full list of plant names, bloom times and locations here, and download a copy of Don Hyatt's delightful and informative Chasing the Bloom article with pictures and locations here.   carolinianum and vaseyi, Blue Ridge Parkway milepost 416.9

The tour price includes a hot buffet breakfast starting at 6:30 am and a fine catered barbecue lunch at Camp Green Cove. We will board the buses by 8 am sharp.

Sunday: Grist Gardens
A Tout le Monde (For All the World)
The Grist Gardens have served as a refuge and pet project since 1979 for Dr. Marilyn Grist, who has been a practicing veterinarian for more than 30 years. The nine acre garden is nestled between Greenville, South Carolina and Asheville, North Carolina near the sleepy little town of Travelers Rest.

Dr. Grist chose to convey her love for her family by designing gardens in their honor. Even when her children and grandchildren are not with her physically, they will always be with her in spirit because her four children and two grandchildren each have a special, individualized garden based on their personality dedicated to them.

Dr. Grist also created a Japanese Garden, Charleston Garden, formal orchard, and Victorian Rose Garden. The Japanese Garden features conifers, waterfalls, and a pagoda. The Charleston Garden contains a gazebo, hollies, and roses. Throughout the property are varieties of azaleas, rhododendrons, shrubs, and trees—a truly unique and stunning collection. If you're looking for a quiet place to reflect, the North Saluda river bubbles by on the northern portion of the property, providing a calming place to rest.

Sunday: Mary and Ed Collins Garden
Six years ago Mary & Ed Collins purchased the Charlie and Ethel Larus property in Flat Rock, North Carolina and sold their existing house and garden. They made a rapid move to a beautifully established garden located on 7 plus acres with two streams. Charlie had eclectic tastes with a special interest in dwarf plants. As a result, the garden had a large and densely planted collection of dwarf indumented rhododendrons, evergreen azaleas, deciduous azaleas, dwarf conifers and a large number of perennials, wildflowers. and unusual trees and shrubs. The Collins are still in the process of incorporating the thousand plus plants brought from their previous garden into the landscape, by opening up an additional two acres to display their Cowles hybrid rhododendrons and many deciduous azaleas, and revamping the existing dense plantings by selective transplanting to the new area.
Collins Rhododendrons
Collins Rhododendrons

Sunday: James and Mary Ann Stewart Garden
'Kehr's Moonbeam' closeup
'Kehr's Moonbeam'
  Eight years ago the Stewarts obtained the fabulous garden developed by Dr. August "Augie" Kehr over the previous twenty four years. Not entirely by chance, it is located adjacent to the Collins garden, which gives us two gardens for one stop. The property encompasses some 10 plus acres with two streams. The back part of the property is the meadow that Augie used for his later magnolia hybridization work, and has what may be the largest collection of magnolias in the US. The upper garden has a very large collection of azalea and rhododendron hybrids, many of them developed by Augie, along with other rare and unusual plants. One of his goals was the development of a good yellow evergreen azalea using various propagation methods. Although he never reached this goal, about a dozen plants in the garden are the result of this effort, and his best, 'Kehr's Moonbeam', is being marketed by Nuccio's Nursery in California.

Sunday: Audrey and Bob Stelloh Garden
garden scene
Poppies, Bluebells, Azaleas
  This wonderful woodland tapestry was begun in 1996 by Bob and his late wife Denise. They moved 600 favorite plants from their old garden near Washington DC to a hilly two acre site in Hendersonville NC covered with native wildflowers, mountain laurels, R. maximum and a few native azaleas, all under mature oaks, tulip poplars, pines and sourwoods. Now, thousands of choice azaleas and rhododendrons will be in full glory, along with Trillium, ladyslipper, bloodroot, Anemone, Tiarella, primrose, fern varieties, hellebore, Hosta, Astilbe, Arisaema, Solomon's Seal, Pulmonaria, Saxifraga, Virginia bluebell, wood poppy and other companion plants. There are also many different varieties of Japanese maples, camellias, stewartias, conifers and other ornamental trees. Bob and his new wife Audrey have been actively renovating their enchanting woodland garden, named Kairaku (Joint Pleasure), and welcome you to share and enjoy it as you wander along its winding paths.

Sunday: Lunch at Camp Greencove
The Carolinas are noted for their fine barbeque. We will sample it with a sit-down barbeque lunch at Camp Green Cove, itself an example of another fine Carolina tradition: summer camps for children.

We offer a bonus tour of more private gardens for you to visit, if you can stay through Monday. It starts with a hot breakfast buffet; continues with a tour of several gardens in Hendersonville; features a catered sit-down lunch at The Cedars of Hendersonville, a large, three-and-a-half story hotel built 98 years ago in a Neo-Classical Revival style and nestled among large ancient cedars, and now serving as an elegant reception and dining area; and concludes with tours of several more gardens in Hendersonville and Asheville. We will board the buses by 9 am sharp and return by 5 pm. The Cedars
The Cedars

Monday: Melody and Doley Bell Garden
Bell azaleas   The Bell garden began in the 1970s as a retirement venture for former educators David and Naoma Dean. Credit for the basic garden design and layout goes to the Deans. Following David's death, Naoma married Dr. Allen Clague and they continued improving and maintaining the garden. In June of 2000 Doley and Melody Bell became stewards of the garden, and have been continually upgrading it since then.

This remarkable garden includes formal areas and woodland areas, and has an estimated 3000 mature rhododendrons and azaleas including Dexter, Haag, Leach, Kehr, Gilkey, Delp, Van Veen, Richardson, and Lee hybrid rhohodendrons, and Glenn Dale, Back Acre, Exbury and Girard hybrid azaleas, along with many native azaleas. Special plants include flowering peaches, crab apples, hybrid dogwoods, hybrid laurels, Franklinia, Cunninghamia, camellias, Dawn Redwood, Enkianthus, Pieris and Japanese maples.

Monday: Hazel and Byron Richards Garden
In 1988 the Richards began building their home, and a few years later began their magnificent three acre garden. Fascination with conifers led to 30 years membership and a national directorship in The American Conifer Society. Though conifers may be their signature plant they have many others of interest as well. Initially they enjoyed the many native plants on their property including mountain laurel, flame azaleas, rhododendrons and large oaks and pines. They have complemented those plants with 200-300 conifers, 23 cultivars of beech (Fagus) from A to Z, and many hostas and Japanese maples. Certain plants such as Microbiota decussata (Russian juniper), Abies, Chamaecyparis, Cryptomeria, Tsuga, Taxus, Pinus along with berries and fruit trees help make an eclectic garden.

They enjoyed the challenge of building a koi pond in 1998. The 70 x 90 feet lined pond is up to 12 feet deep and supports a submerged Taxodium ascendens (pond cypress) and an Acer palmatum'Waterfall'. The koi like the environment, as do the herons and kingfishers that like the koi despite a heron statue and a tethered kite. Everything on the property has been accomplished by the two of them. Gardens are always changing and they have enjoyed growing old with their plants—as Hazel has said "We move our plants like we move our furniture".
  garden scene
Garden Scene

Monday: Bullington Horticultural Center
The Bullington Center, once the nursery of Bob Bullington in the early 1970s, is on 12 acres of rolling land. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the educational gardens which include a therapy garden, shade garden, perennial borders, native woodland garden with a half-mile nature trail, rain garden, a pumpkin patch and herb garden. These gardens incorporate many unusual now-mature trees that Mr. Bullington introduced to the area, along with a large collection of deciduous azaleas, including a number of Gregory Bald natural hybrid azaleas. The facilities include a multipurpose room, a greenhouse and headhouse, and an amphitheater.

During our visit, Bullington Center volunteers will be our tour guides, and tell us what they do for children, their partnership with the school system, and how the special needs children plan and plant their own gardens.
  Sally's Garden at the Bullington Center
Sally's Garden at Bullington

Monday: WhiteGate Inn
WhiteGate Inn Waterfall   The owner and gardener, Ralph Coffey, will give us a short introductory talk, and also take questions after we have looked around the award-winning gardens of this Asheville inn. The garden rooms have an extensive collection of unusual small trees, shrubs and conifers. These include 18 varieties of Japanese maples and over 300 different varieties of perennials, hostas, roses, and herbs. The greenhouse houses a collection of over 800 orchids and tropicals. Paths and sitting areas throughout the gardens and along the waterfalls make the grounds a perfect place to wander stress free, or to sit and meditate among nature’s beauty and abundance.

These are the only Asheville gardens to have won awards as "Best Water Garden" and as "Best Landscape Garden". They were featured on the National Garden Conservancy tour in 2005, and have been on several local Father's Day tours.


Don Hyatt
  FRIDAY: KEYNOTE PRESENTATION   We are fortunate indeed to have Don Hyatt setting the tone of this convention with his evening presentation on Chasing the Bloom. He will focus on the rich botanical diversity of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and scenic locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway. As is Don's typical presentation style, expect an entertaining and fast-paced program filled with many beautiful images, occasional touches of humor, and a few digital tricks, too. With a BS in Horticulture and an MS in Computer Science, both from Virginia Tech, he has maintained a keen interest in gardening and plants since he was a toddler. Don retired a few years ago from his position as an instructor of award-winning computer science students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria VA, ranked the #1 high school in the nation, and one of the very few high schools with a supercomputer—in this case, won by his students in a national competition! Since then, Don has been able to spend even more time exploring and finding outstanding plants in the Blue Ridge Mountains and elsewhere.

SATURDAY: FLOWER SHOW JUDGING WORKSHOP   To those exhibitors who want to learn what a judge looks for when awarding ribbons, as well as those contemplating a future role as a flower show judge, consider joining Marianne and Bruce Feller on a "walk through discussion" of the Flower Show after entries have been judged. Subjects discussed will include the selection, grooming and preparation of trusses and sprays, their presentation and other factors bearing on the process of evaluating entries. The Fellers have organized and conducted the Flower Shows for the New York Chapter for the past 10 years. In addition, they have participated as exhibitors, with numerous awards to their credit, in flower shows held by many ARS Chapters including Greater Philadelphia, Massachusetts, Middle Atlantic and Princeton.  
Marianne & Bruce Feller

SATURDAY: HYBRIDIZERS ROUNDTABLE   Attend this popular discussion group if you have any interest at all in hybridizing. It may be formal or informal, with prepared remarks or free-flowing discussion of topics relating to hybridizing, depending upon who is in attendance.

SATURDAY: PRESENTATION   This evening's presentation will be From Mountain to Plain: Niagara's Program for Evaluating Cold-Hardy Rhodies in Diverse Locales by Christina Woodward and Nick Yarmoshuk. Christina, the late Dr. Joseph Brueckner's daughter, is curator of her father's studbooks and over 500 of his hybrids in Mississauga, Ontario. She will describe his breeding program and the resulting plants, which are the subject of the evaluation program. Joe Brueckner, a native of Hungary, had moved to Switzerland and then New Zealand before settling in New Brunswick, Canada. There, he was determined to breed beautiful rhododendrons that could survive their cold weather, down to -25° F. . . . and did.
Christina Woodward
Nick Yarmoshuk

Nick Yarmoshuk is Secretary of the Niagara Region Chapter of ARS District 12, Chair of the ARS Test and Demonstration Garden Committee, past president of the NRC and the Rhododendron Society of Cananda, and a long time cold-hardy rhododendron devotee. He will share with us the Brueckner Evaluation Program rationale, design and implementation.

Laura Grant
  SUNDAY: ARS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FORUM   This is your chance to interact with Laura Grant, the ARS Executive Director. She will lead a free-ranging discussion with a primary focus on ARS membership recruitment and retention ideas. All members, especially chapter officers, are encouraged to attend and share their ideas for society growth.

SUNDAY: PRESENTATION   Our evening presentation will be Trekking through swarms of azaleas and double helices. Dr. Thomas Ranney and two of his graduate students, Kimberly Shearer and Jason Lattier, will review two research projects to show us how deciduous azaleas provide a fascinating model to study the role of hybridization and polyploidy (multiple sets of chromosomes) in plant evolution:
• how the unique azaleas found on Gregory and Wayah Balds in the Appalachian Mountains evolved from complex hybridization among multiple native species including Rhododendron arborescens, R. cumberlandense, R. viscosum and R. calendulaceum; and
• is Rhododendron canadense really a tetraploid species as commonly thought? A new survey suggests otherwise.
Science aside, many of these species and their hybrids provide fantastic garden plants. Enjoy the diversity!
Tom Ranney

With a Ph.D. from Cornell University, Tom is a Professor of Horticultural Science for North Carolina State University. He lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Western North Carolina where he is the program leader of the Mountain Crop Improvement Lab of the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, NC.


We thank the many sponsors who have helped with the convention:
• Anonymous
BB Barnes Nursery
Gardens of the Blue Ridge
Greer Gardens
Jesse Israel & Sons Nursery
Mast General Store
Meadowbrook Nursery/We-Du Natives
Timber Press
Whitney Gardens & Nursery
Worm's Way


Each day after the tours, come check out the plant sale. Sold out of the one you want? Check back again, as they are being restocked all the time. No room for plants because you are flying home? We will have a service to provide you with packing materials and to ship your plants.

'Silver Skies'
  Click here to see a list of the well over 3000 choice plants being grown for the plant sale, thanks to the efforts of local chapter members and good friends in eight states, Most of the plants will be 3-1/2" liners, large enough to plant out and grow, yet affordable and convenient to carry more of them home with you.

The theme of the plant sale will be to highlight the collecting and hybridizing efforts of our many local area plantsmen. We have sought and are collecting the works of such notables as James Harris, Velma Haag, Gene Aromi, George Beasley, Tom Dodd, Augie Kehr, James Todd, Ben Morrison, Don Johnson, Lonnie Player, Kelly Strickland, Earl Sommerville, Zophar Warner and others.

We will also be offering a few other selected items in the plant sale area:
• pens made by a member of our chapters, hand-turned of wood from rhododendron, holly, mountain laurel and exotic trees; and
• an assortment of new and used garden-related books, offered at a discount from the list price, many by quite a bit.
We will have only one or two of most of these items, so come early for the best selection—it will be first come, first served.

  schedule   (click here to download a copy)

times   EVENT - explanation - Meeting Room(s) names
Thursday, May 3, 2012
3:00-6:00   PLANT/BOOK SALE - open - Mitchell Room, Biltmore Foyer
4:00-6:00   REGISTRATION - open - Laurel Registration Desk
5:00-6:00   FLOWER/PHOTO SHOW - submit entries - Overlook Balloom, Board Room
DINNER - on your own - free shuttle buses to downtown Asheville
Friday, May 4, 2012
6:30-9:00   BREAKFAST - on your own - Pro's Table Restaurant
9:00-5:00   MEETING - ARS Board - Foxfire Room
9:00-3:00   EARLY BIRD TOUR - Biltmore House and Garden
9:00-4:00   SIGHTSEEING - on your own - free shuttle buses to downtown Asheville
12:00-1:00   LUNCH - ARS Board, ASA Board, others - Roan Room
12:00-5:30   FLOWER/PHOTO SHOW - submit entries - Overlook Ballroom, Board Room
12:00-6:00   REGISTRATION - open - Laurel Registration Desk
1:00-3:00   MEETING - ASA Board - Dogwood Room
3:00-6:00   PLANT/BOOK SALE - open - Mitchell Room, Biltmore Foyer
4:00-7:00   WELCOME RECEPTION - heavy appetizers, cash bar - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
6:00-7:00   FLOWER/PHOTO SHOW - judging - Overlook Ballroom
7:00-7:30   WELCOMING REMARKS - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
7:30-8:30   PRESENTATION - Chasing the Bloom by Don Hyatt - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
8:30-10:00   REGISTRATION - open - Laurel Registration Desk
8:30-10:00   FLOWER/PHOTO SHOW - open - Overlook Ballroom
8:30-10:30   PLANT/BOOK SALE - open - Mitchell Room, Biltmore Foyer
Saturday, May 5, 2012
6:30-8:00   HOT BREAKFAST BUFFET - included with tour - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
7:00-8:00   REGISTRATION - open - Laurel Registration Desk
8:00-4:00   TOUR A - Asheville Area Gardens:
Owen Garden, North Carolina Arboretum, Blue Ridge Parkway
9:00-6:00   FLOWER/PHOTO SHOW - open - Overlook Room
4:00-6:00   PLANT/BOOK SALE - open - Mitchell Room, Biltmore Foyer
4:30-5:30   WORKSHOP - Flower Show Judging - Overlook Ballroom
4:30-6:00   HYBRIDIZERS ROUNDTABLE - Foxfire Room
6:00-7:00   SOCIAL HOUR, CASH BAR - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
7:00-8:00   ARS Banquet - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
8:00-8:30   ARS Annual Meeting - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
8:45-9:45   PRESENTATION - From Mountain to Plain..., Christina Woodward and Nick Yarmoshuk - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
9:45-11:15   PLANT/BOOK SALE - open - Mitchell Room, Biltmore Foyer
9:45-11:15   FLOWER/PHOTO SHOW - open - Overlook Ballroom
Sunday, May 6, 2012
6:30-8:00   HOT BREAKFAST BUFFET - included with tour - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
8:00-4:00   TOUR H - Hendersonville Area Gardens:
Grist, Collins, Stewart, Stelloh Gardens
4:00-6:00   PLANT/BOOK SALE - open - Mitchell Room, Biltmore Foyer
4:30-6:00   ARS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FORUM - Dogwood Room
6:00-6:30   SOCIAL HOUR, CASH BAR - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
6:30-7:30   ASA Banquet - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
7:30-8:00   ASA Annual Meeting - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
8:00-8:30   AUCTION - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
8:45-9:45   PRESENTATION - Trekking Through Swarms of Azaleas..., Tom Ranney, Kimberly Shearer, Jason Lattier - Roan, Pisgah, Pilot Rooms
9:45-11:15   PLANT/BOOK SALE - open - Mitchell Room, Biltmore Foyer
Monday, May 7, 2012
6:30-9:00   HOT BREAKFAST BUFFET - included with tour - Roan, Pisgah Rooms
6:30-9:00   BREAKFAST - on your own if not on tour - Pro's Table Restaurant
8:00-10:00   MEETING - ASA Board - Dogwood Room
8:00-11:00   PLANT/BOOK SALE - open - Mitchell Room, Biltmore Foyer
9:00-5:00   BONUS TOUR - More Hendersonville and Asheville Gardens:
Bell, Richards Gardens; Bullington Center, WhiteGate Inn


While this list only recognizes the committee chairs, the joint convention could not happen without the contributions of the many other fine people who served on the committees, primarily members of the Southeastern Chapter-ARS and the Vaseyi Chapter-ASA.
Chairman - Aaron Cook
Registrar - Bob & Audrey Stelloh
Secretary - Marilyn Haynes
Treasurer - John Brown
Tours - Doley Bell, Marilyn Haynes, Audrey Stelloh
Plant Sale - John Brown, Leon Pace
Speakers - Aaron Cook
Flower Show - Glenn O'Sheal
Photo Contest - Jackson McCarter, Courtland White
Sponsorships - Anne Guelker
Publicity - Marilyn Haynes
Website - Bob Stelloh, Dave Banks
Journal Articles - Bob Stelloh (ASA), Marilyn Haynes (ARS)
Hospitality - Suzanne Medd
Book Sale - April Sanborn
Plant Auction - John Brown
Hotel Selection & Liaison - Marilyn Haynes


Average early May temperatures in Asheville range from a low of 50°F to a high of 70°F, with rain expected about every three days for less than an inch per week.

  related pages

conventions (parent page)

  *Fetterbush Overlook signClick the sign to see the plants: Rhododendron vaseyi, Hypericum buckleyi, and Pieris floribunda.
(bonus points for knowing either of those last two)
Updated April 1, 2012

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