Convention 2002

2002 Convention || Next | Future | Past

Each spring, an Azalea Society chapter or a group of interested persons hosts a convention, and invites all the members to attend. Each convention gives you a chance to see some public and private gardens in that area, hear talks and see slide shows about azaleas, renew old friendships and make new ones, buy good azaleas at good prices, and participate in the annual business meeting and election of officers. Essentially, the conventions are Azalea Society birthday parties.

Next Convention

A Family Reunion – ARS/ASA Joint Convention – Atlanta, Georgia – April 17-21, 2002

Don’t miss this one! It features fabulous private gardens in the Atlanta and Auburn/Opelika areas, as well as the world-famous Callaway Gardens, where Fred Galle spent much of his career.

Much of the convention information is shown here, including registration forms. The official 2002 Convention website has more information, and a lot more pictures.

The convention headquarters is the Atlanta Marriott Century Center, northeast of Atlanta a few miles off the I-85 freeway. Attendees have a low rate of $79 per night per room for 1 or 2 persons in the room, or $89 for 3 or 4 persons.

For specific questions, send an email to Earl Sommerville ( Azalea Chapter ARS) or to Jim Thornton (Oconee chapter ASA).


Register for the convention by printing the convention registration form and mailing it with your check to the address on the form, by March 17, 2002.

Register for the hotel by printing the hotel registration form and mailing it with your check or credit card information to the address on the form, or by calling the hotel at 1-800-228-9290, by March 26, 2002. Mention that you are attending the Azalea Chapter ARS Convention to get the convention rate.


(Tour B) North Atlanta Gardens – Includes the Sommerville garden where you will view many spectacular native azalea specimens, a brook and waterfall, evergreen azaleas and rhododendrons. At the Ligon garden, you will see how he used boulders in the design of his garden, along with mature native azaleas, rhododendrons, and a koi pond with a cascading stream. The Caras garden is a creation of love, featuring rhododendron, mountain laurel and azaleas, and a small perennial garden which adds color most of the year.

The Jones wooded garden features over 700 native azaleas, wildflowers, including pink ladyslippers, trillium, spiderwort, rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas, interspersed with mountain laurel, camellias, hemlock and bonsai. A small bog garden is a visual joy.
The Gilbert garden is a virtual arboretum. Walking paths crisscross the 13 acre grounds with over 2500 taxa, and lead to nooks of modern outdoor sculpture in metal, stone, and wood.

(Tour E) South Atlanta Gardens

The Coleman garden is a 20-year-old 10 acre site, containing 3,000 azaleas and 2,000 rhododendrons. The garden borders the Yellow River and includes huge granite outcroppings. This is probably the most extensive collection of hybrid rhododendrons in the Atlanta area. You will also see hostas, perennials, wildflowers and the eye-catching pink ladyslippers that have naturalized here. A bog garden, a conifer garden and several pools complete the picture.

The Sams garden is a 30-acre woodland site with mature specimens of R. flammeum and R. austrinum the size of small trees. Dr. Sams’ knowledge and love of plants (as well as his appreciation for the distinctive virtues of cow manure vs chicken manure) were taught to him by his grandmother. You will see many other native plants here – asarum, trillium, Florida anise, dicentra, and others.

The Vuocolo garden occupies approximately 15 acres. It was started in 1984 and is still under development. Today it is host to rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas, both evergreen and native. It is also home to many Japanese maples and a growing collection of conifers. Everywhere you turn, you will find a surprise. The Reid garden sits on a farm with approximately 4 acres planted in azaleas. Ben can boast of 20,000 plants, with about 1,500 varieties. He has a very large collection of Glenn Dales and a good collection of native azaleas. He was formerly a retail grower of azaleas and other plants.

(Tour D) Auburn/Opelika Gardens – The first garden on this tour will be the Dean garden. It is bordered by many native azaleas including R. canescens, R. austrinum and R. flammeum. Ms. Dean, one of the foremost authorities on wildflowers of the southeast, has made a specialty of bog plants, grown in nine bogs which include most species of Sarracenia as well as Helianthus florida, Melanthium virginicum, Marshallia mohri, and Iris virginica. Of particular interest to rhododendron lovers will be her collection of R. cumberlandense that came from an area which was to be flooded by a dam on the Tallapoosa River in Randolf County, AL.

The Speake garden is a 5 acre woodland site featuring deciduous azaleas, including many rare and unusual native hybrids. There are many plants which are crosses between native azaleas and R. mollis or various Exbury azaleas. These are grouped in beds with their large flowers putting on an outstanding show. Scattered throughout the garden are stands of spring wildflowers such as trilliums, mayapples, bloodroot, iris and pink and yellow ladyslippers.

The Greenleaf garden is an intimate setting on approximately 1 acre, designed in the shape of a bowl, with landscaping generally following the curve of terraces. There are 100 varieties of evergreen rhododendrons, 300 deciduous azaleas and 20 species of trillium. With the exception of R. canadense, all species native to the eastern U.S are represented, and even R. occidentale is represented in hybrid form. Plantings occur in groups and in layers, organized by color and bloom time.

The garden is in bloom from mid-March til mid-May with sporadic bloom continuing throughout the summer from such plants as R. arborescens and R. prunifolium.

The Robinson garden is just a few blocks from the Greenleaf garden and is located on a corner lot of about 2 acres. The majority of the many hundred rhododendron, evergreen and deciduous azaleas, and camellias were planted in the mid-80s. Several rare plants of R. austrinum provide a golden glow to the garden in early April. Scattered throughout the garden are numerous wildflowers. Though dazzling from the street, the garden is even more beautiful when one wanders the maze of paths among the very large rhododendron, with another beautiful plant always beckoning.

The Corley garden is an 18 acre site containing 1500 native azaleas, 475 rhododendrons and 1000 camellias. The stunning collection of seedling azaleas includes many outstanding examples of the various species and native hybrids between species. There is an amazing example of a deep red huge-flowered R. calendulaceum, many fine pink hybrids of R. flammeum x R. canescens, and wonderful examples of R. ‘Ocheto’ x R. austrinum.

(Tour C) Hiawassee/Helen Tour – This will be a scenic tour of the North Georgia Mountains. There will be an abundance of native rhododendron and native azaleas along the roadsides throughout the mountains. The first stop will be at the Altman garden in Sautee. The second stop will be in the Alpine/ Bavarian village of Helen for a walking, shopping tour of the antique and craft shops. The third stop will be for lunch at Shoney’s in Hiawassee. Hamilton Garden will be our last stop. This garden is named in honor of Fred & Hazel Hamilton, our beloved deceased Azalea Chapter members. The return route will be Blairsville, Neals Gap, Turner’s Corner and Dahlonega.

(Tour F) Callaway Gardens

Your imagination cannot come close to conceiving the beauty of spring at Callaway Gardens, especially since the opening of the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl. Featuring more than 4,000 hybrid and native azaleas, this new 40 acre garden is larger than the average 5 to 7 acre azalea garden, and it continues to fulfill founder Cason Callaway’s goal of creating a place “prettier than anything since the Garden of Eden”. The majority of the hybrid azaleas, propagated from cuttings from the Overlook Azalea Garden, are arranged in a progression of colors.

Continuing Callaway Garden’s traditional use of water reflection, the azaleas are planted in masses around the 1 acre Mirror Pond creating breathtaking reflection during any season.

(Tour A) Athens GardensPicadilly Farm is a retail/wholesale nursery on a 20 acre site. Nursery production on 4.5 acres centers around hellebores, hostas, shade perennials, hardy ferns, conifers and unusual shrubs. The display gardens cover 2.5 acres and include an informal southern shade garden featuring hostas and companion plants; a winter garden with camellias, hellebores and other favorites; a conifer garden with over 300 species and cultivars; a sunny perennial border; and a vegetable garden. Hundreds of unusual plants are tucked in here and there.

The Giberson garden began in 1990 with a general concept of 3 woodland gardens and an arbor with a waterfall. Well over 100 tons of boulders were brought in and dry streams were created to handle potential erosion problems. The first woodland garden centers on azaleas. The central woodland gardens contain low-growing bamboo, corkscrew willow, Japanese maples, roses and magnolia. The third garden has many varieties of roses, a smoke tree and the cinnamon bark Natchez crepe myrtle, river birch, pussy willow and irises.

The Lambert garden is a woodland garden developed around large old oaks, beeches, maples and pines on a 2 acre river front lot. The koi pond is surrounded by Japanese, Robin Hill, and native azaleas, royal ferns and Japanese painted ferns. On the perimeter, rock gardens are filled with shade-loving perennials. Large collections of native and cultivated azaleas are on a slope which leads to the Oconee River. This is a study garden for UGA horticulture classes.

The Yeatts garden is spread over 2.25 acres and features plants native to the Southeastern U.S. Over 40 species of azaleas, both evergreen and deciduous, can be found on the property. Bloom times usually range from early March to late September. Another focus of the garden is its large number of native woodland perennials. Also featured is a bog, which includes numerous species of Sarracenia as well as many other perennials found in Southeastern wetlands.

The Dooley garden consists of about 2.5 acres, of which a little over an acre comprises the planted garden. The newest addition to the garden is a meadow area which is planted primarily with native azaleas, deciduous magnolias, hydrangeas and Japanese maples. In the pool area there is a separate garden room consisting mainly of native azaleas crossed with Exbury, known as the “Confederate Series.” You will see a variety of evergreen azaleas, both Southern Indica and Satsuki, as well as Kurumes.


Jim Berry – is one of the nation’s premier horticulturists and nursery professionals. He manages one of the largest wholesale nursery producers in the U.S. He holds 25 U.S. plant patents and manages licensing arrangements with producers both nationally and internationally. He is also co-director of research with the Southern Nursery Association in Atlanta, GA and President of the Horticultural Institute in Washington, DC for 2001.

Barbara Bullock – is a graduate of the University of Maryland with degrees in Fine Art and Horticulture. From 1980 to 1990 she worked in the nursery industry in both production and retail. She illustrated the University of Maryland’s woody plant teaching manual (400 drawings) which is still used today. She is now the Curator of the Azalea and Rhododendron collection at the National Arboretum where she has been since 1990. She has done extensive improvements to the collection, which will be the subject of her presentation.

Kristine Braman – has done research since joining the Georgia Station in 1989, exploring the ecology and management of arthropod pests associated with turf grass and woody ornamentals in the urban environment. Some recent research includes enhancement of natural enemy complexes for azalea lace bug management, and basic biological studies of non-native pest mole crickets. Current projects address the development of improved turf grass and woody ornamental cultivars, and effects of landscape pest management and fertilization on water quality and the environment.

Ed Collins – has served in nearly every capacity in the Valley Forge Chapter of the ARS, including chairing their national convention, and after retirement and moving to Asheville has done the same for the Southeastern Chapter. He has been active in the Sandwich Club in the exploration of the Heritage Estate and discovery of superior Cowles hybrids and more recently exploring the mountains for superior native azaleas. He has also co-founded the new Vaseyi Chapter ASA and helped host the 2001 ASA convention. He has a beautiful garden in Hendersonville with an extensive collection of Cowles hybrids for further study.

Linda Erdman – is currently Director of the New Product Development with Carolina Nurseries in Charleston, SC. Prior to this, she managed Magnolia Nursery in Mobile, AL for 12 years. The owner of that nursery, Dr. John Allen Smith, collected plants from all over the world and Linda learned to propagate these specialty items vegetatively, as well as by seed. Dr. Gene Aromi, a friend of Dr. Smith’s, became interested in the native species, hoping to cross our native species with the Exbury azaleas from England. Magnolia Nursery was instrumental in the first promotions of Aromi hybrids. Her present employer, Carolina Nurseries, is a much larger nursery with an aggressive approach on new plants and marketing

Maarten van der Giessen – is Vice-President of van der Giessen Nursery in Mobile, AL, a wholesale grower of azalea and woody ornamental liners and containers since 1990. A current ASA Board member, Maarten was Chairman of the 1999 ASA convention committee in Mobile, and regularly emcees the annual ASA plant auctions. Maarten and his father, Peter, are assisting Dr. Aromi with the development of his new azalea hybrids.

Robert Greenleaf – is an avid amateur horticulturist whose father was a geneticist and plant breeder. Robert has actively bred, propagated, and grown native azaleas for many years. His garden, which is on the Opelika/Auburn tour, is the product of those years of effort. His garden is planted in layers, with staggered bloom times and complementing colors. It is also, to a large extent, a botanic garden, which gives it a certain variety and intellectual interest. He will discuss the use of deciduous azaleas in garden design, illustrated with slides from his garden.

Don Hyatt – has been an avid hybridizer of azaleas and rhododendrons for over 30 years with a particular interest in deciduous azaleas, and has been teaching mathematics and computer science for 32 years. His exceptional web site demonstrates his ability to combine his work and avocation. Don is a former district director of the ARS and is now a director of the ASA and president of Potomac Valley ARS Chapter.

Don Jacobs – holds a Ph.D in Ecology and has taught that subject as well as other related biological sciences. He has made extensive plant collecting trips throughout China, from Eastern Mongolia to Zishwangbana, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, central and eastern Europe as well as most of North America. Some of these collections have become valuable additions to American horticulture. He is founder of Eco-Gardens for the research and display of native and exotic plants growable in the Piedmont region of the Southeast, and for the propagation of endangered species.

Paul James – is the largest grower of Delp rhododendrons. Many of his rhododendrons are featured on the recently released update of Homer Salley’s Rhododendron Hybrids CD-ROM. His garden is located in Franklin County, VA. He started the garden in 1978 but really began to develop it in 1985 when he retired. Since that time, large collections of conifers, maples, azaleas and rhododendrons have been added. There are more than 4000 varieties of rhododendron and 2000 azalea cultivars.

Richard Jaynes – worked at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station for 25 years as plant breeder and horticulturist. Many of his publications deal with propagation of Kalmia, Castanea, Pieris, and rhododendrons. He was for years a leading authority on the American chestnut and hybrid chestnuts. He is the world authority on Kalmia and, as a plant breeder, has released many of the cultivars now being commercially propagated. His research is in large measure responsible for the increasing popularity of this plant.

Sandra McDonald – and her husband Ken ran LeMac Nurseries for a number of years. The nursery specialized in florist and landscape azaleas and rhododendrons. She has hybridized many evergreen azaleas and some rhododendrons. In recent years she has been interested in native azaleas and has made many trips to the mountains and elsewhere in the wild seeking native azaleas and rhododendrons.

George McLellan – has been a landscape garden designer and installer for over 12 years. His own garden has been described as “one of the loveliest in America.” He works with a broad palette of plant materials constantly updated with much research and personal experimentation. His garden designs typically exhibit bloom and interest year-round, with emphasis on rare and unusual trees, shrubs, perennials, and native plants.

Clarence Towe – is Assistant Superintendent of Education with the public school system in Oconee County, SC. He has had an interest in deciduous azaleas for 30 years and has written several articles for the ARS Journal on various topics. He is currently writing a book on deciduous azaleas that is scheduled for publication by Timber Press in 2004. He is a member of the Azalea Chapter, ARS.

Don Voss – was fortunate in having Robert Gartrell as a father-in-law. Don volunteers in the herbarium of the U.S. National Arboretum. He is an international economist by training and taught economics at Princeton and Bucknell. He has 25 years with the CIA as an Economic Intelligence Officer.

Hubert Jones – is President of the Azalea Chapter ARS, an Architect, and a 30-year bonsai grower. His lecture/demonstration will be the history of bonsai and then he will create a bonsai in less than an hour. His rhododendron garden is on Tour B Thursday.

Future Conventions

Scheduled future conventions include

When Where Contact Notes
May 1-4, 2003 Chattanooga, TN Joe Schild no chapter
2004 Annapolis, Maryland Carol Segree Ben Morrison chapter

 past conventions

The past Azalea Society conventions have been:

Year Where Host Chapter
1979 Washington DC Brookside Gardens
1980 Chevy Chase MD Brookside Gardens
1981 Wheaton MD Brookside Gardens
1982 Richmond VA Richmond
1983 Chevy Chase MD Brookside Gardens
1984 Fredericksburg VA Northern Virginia
1985 Mobile AL Mobile
1986 Morristown NJ Mal Clark and friends
1987 Portland OR Northwest (joint with ARS)
1988 Bethesda MD Brookside Gardens
1989 Hendersonville NC Mal Clark and friends
1990 Northern VA Northern Virginia
1991 New Orleans LA Louisiana
1992 Solomons MD Ben Morrison
1993 Dallas TX Dallas
1994 Richmond VA Richmond
1995 Rockville MD Brookside Gardens
1996 Dallas TX Dallas
1997 Atlanta GA Oconee
1998 McLean VA Northern Virginia
1999 Mobile AL Louisiana
2000 Charleston SC Louisiana
2001 Asheville NC Vaseyi