ARS 2019 Fall Conference Program

2019 ARS Fall Regional Conference:

Rhododendrons By The Seaside

September 27 – 29, 2019

MARS was proud to host the 2019 American Rhododendron Society (ARS) Fall Regional Conference.

The conference featured twelve distinguished speakers whose overall theme was ‘Rhododendrons as the World Warms’. Three bus tour options were included, along with a bulbs workshop and sale, two propagation workshops, plant sale, photo exhibition, and silent auction.

Saturday and Sunday breakfasts were included, along with Saturday lunch.  In addition, a no-host bar and full-course buffet dinner were offered on Friday and Saturday evenings, providing lots of time for socializing, catching up with old friends, and making new ones.

Location:  Parksville Community and Conference Centre
132 Jensen Avenue East, Parksville, BC
Dates: September 27 – 29, 2019


Conference Information:

Registration Photo Exhibition
Conference Schedule Travel Options
Speakers Accommodations
Bus Tours Local Attractions

Many thanks to our generous sponsors!


Conference Program:

Friday, September 27


2:30 PM – 3:30 PM  Bernie Dinter

Bulb Talk And Sale:  Flowering Bulbs – Nature’s Gift That Keeps on Giving”

Limited to 60 seats — register early!

Bulbs herald the arrival of spring and complement the blooming season of rhododendrons. They naturalize easily, are deer resistant and tolerate dry summers. They fit into any size garden from small rockeries to large drifts in meadows. Once planted, most will multiply, giving larger shows of colour as the years pass by.

3:45 PM – 4:45 PM Dennis Bottemiller

Rhododendron Seed Propagation Workshop:  “The Art and Science of Propagating Rhododendrons from Seed”

Limited to 30 seats — register early!

I will tell you about the techniques used at the Rhododendron Species Botanical garden in the propagation of rhododendrons from seed. This will include a visual presentation, followed by hands-on application of the techniques described, with every participant having the opportunity to take home some planted seed.


8:00 – 9:00 PM  Dr. Richard Hebda  

“The Future Of Rhododendrons: Lessons From The Ancient Past And Modern Distributions”

Wandering continents, mountain building and fluctuating global climates:  Join me as I trace the evolution and migration of rhododendrons and peek into their potential distribution future as our global climates and ecosystems undergo rapid change.


9:00 – 10:00 PM  Marc Colombel


This talk will focus on how to propagate and grow plants using materials that are either free and/or scrounged from uses they were not made for. Rhododendron culture does not have to be expensive, and one of the challenges I enjoy is finding new ways to make discarded and unappreciated materials useful in plant culture.


Saturday, September 28


8:00 AM – 11:30 AM  REGISTRATION

8:45 AM – 9:30 AM  Dr. Linda Gilkeson

“Insects Of Woodland Gardens: The Good, The Bad & The Beautiful”

An amazing variety of insects frequent our woodland gardens. Learn how to provide the best conditions to attract beneficial insects and how to identify and manage pests of rhododendron, azaleas and other plants (including root weevils, climbing cutworms, azalea sawflies, lace bugs), using least toxic methods.

9:30 AM – 10:15 AM  Steve Hootman

“Cultivation Of Rhododendron Species, Meconopsis And Cardiocrinum At The RSBG”

A look at how we are successful (or not) with many of our most difficult species and companion plants.


10:45 AM – 11:30 AM  Dr. Nancy Turner

“Berries, Teas And So Much More: Ethnobotany Of Ericaceae In Northwestern North America”

Many plants in the heather family have particular cultural importance for First Nations in Northwestern North America. Some are used for food, others for medicine and still others as materials in technology. Some also have particular spiritual value, and all of those that are culturally significant are named in the various Indigenous languages. In this talk I will present some key examples of culturally valued ericaceous plants.

11:30 AM – 12:15 PM  Ron Long

“Tundra And Climate Change”

Tundra and alpine areas occur in the narrow zone between the farthest extent of trees and the permanent snow line.  This is one of the harshest habitats on earth, yet plants thrive there. The talk will examine the conditions that characterize the tundra and alpine and go on to describe the plants and the adaptations that allow them to prosper against (almost) all odds.

12:15 PM – 1:00 PM  LUNCH (INCLUDED)

1:00 PM – 4:00 PM  BUS TOURS

Choose one of “Milner Gardens”, “Fall Private Gardens”, or “Local Points of Interest

All bus tours load promptly at 1:00 PM in front of the Parksville Community and Conference Centre.  Buses return to Parksville Community and Conference Centre at approximately 4:00 PM.

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM  ARS Chat: “What’s In Store For The ARS?”

With Ken Webb, Dave Banks, June Walsh and Glen Jamieson:  Ask questions about the future of the ARS!


8:00 – 9:00 PM  Mike Stewart

“Botanical Gems And Their Journey To Your Garden”

Before the middle of the 17th century to the end of the 19th century, Europeans had no knowledge of plants from North America, South America and the Himalayas.  This program tells the stories of those very early explorers who broke trails into previously unknown regions of the world searching for new botanical treasures.  These men were among the first to risk and sometimes give their lives in search of the botanical gems that we have in our gardens today.  The presentation is complemented with photographs of rhododendrons in the wild, and the mountainous regions in Asia where they were discovered.

9:00 – 10:00 PM  Steve Hootman

“Rhododendron Hunting On The Edges”

This talk will focus on plants from some of the more remote and unexplored regions of Asia away from Yunnan, Sichuan, etc., where most plant hunters have travelled, where I have been specifically looking for new species of Rhododendron and those that have not yet been introduced or studied.


Sunday, September 29


9:00 AM – 9:55 AM  Geoff Ball

“The History Of Milner Gardens & Woodland”

A talk on the origins and evolution of Milner Gardens & Woodland, including the partnerships and planning that went into the creation of the Greig Rhododendron Species Garden.

9:55 AM – 10:30 AM  Dr. Juliana Medeiros

Drinking the Ocean Through A Straw: Rhododendron Strategies For Rapid Growth Under Water Limitation

Wood is a familiar part of life, but what exactly does wood do for plants, and how do the properties of wood translate into growth and survival? I will provide a primer on how wood and leaves function as a unit to promote growth in a wide variety of climates, and I will reveal very different strategies we have discovered within three Rhododendron clades: (Section Pentanthera), evergreen Azaleas (Section Tsutsusi) and broadleaf evergreens (Section Ponticum).

10:45 AM – 11:30 AM  Nancy Moore

“All-season Interest In The Garden:  Hot Dry Summers and Wet Winters”

We all want our gardens to look great, regardless of the season or the weather.  We can achieve this with the use of natural and manufactured hardscape materials, and especially with well-chosen, multi-interest plants suited to our ‘new’ norm of wet, cold winters and hot, dry summers.

11:30 AM – 12:15 PM  Dennis Bottemiller

“Propagation of Rhododendron Cuttings”

A discussion of the techniques used at the Rhododendron Species Botanical garden to propagate rhododendrons from cuttings.

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