June 3-6, 2021 Wolfville, Nova Scotia Register Now
American Rhododendron Society
2021 Convention


The programming for the convention will take place in the afternoon in Atlantic Canada (mornings on the West Coast of North America, evenings in Europe).   Our virtual presentations will be available to convention participants for a period of time following our event.

Schedule is subject to change in speakers and times.

Wednesday, June 2 2021

Board Meeting, American Rhododendron Society (on Ring Central/Zoom platform)  1 pm ADT

Thursday, June 3 2021

Time Virtual Convention
1:00 PM Gerald Gloade, Introduction to Mi’kma’ki
2:30 PM Sheila Stevenson, Rhododendrons Down East & their proponents
3:30 PM Virtual Tour, Kentville Research Centre
4:00 PM Todd Boland, Rhodos in Newfoundland
5:00 PM Dianne McLeod, Rhododendron lapponicum


Friday, June 4 2021

Time Virtual Convention
1:00 PM Virtual Tour, Annapolis Royal Gardens
2:00 PM Freeman Patterson, The Garden at Shamper’s Bluff
3:00 PM ARS Next Gen Project, Juliana Medeiros and Christina Woodward
4:00 PM ARS Awards Presentation: 2020 Awards
5:00 PM Joe Bruso, Breeding Hardy Rhodos

Saturday, June 5 2021

Time Virtual Convention
1:00 PM Michael Heim, Pushing Hardiness Limits, Rhododendrons & Their Companions in the Northwoods.
2:00 PM Virtual Tour, Coastal Barrens, Gardens and Rhodos
3:00 PM Christina Woodward & Nick Yarmoshuk, Systematic Evaluation of Brueckener Hybrids
4:00 PM American Rhododendron Society AGM and 2021 Awards
5:30 PM Ken Cox, “Glendoick Gardens 100 Years”


Sunday, June 6 2021

Time Virtual Convention
10:30 am Kristian Theqvist, “Rhodos and Gardens of Finland”
12 noon Breeders’ Virtual Roundtable; Co-Chairs: Jamie Ellison and John Weagle
2:00 PM Phillip MacDougall, “Berberidaceae: Shade Companions for Rhodos”


Virtual Garden Tours

Kentville Research Centre – June 3 2021

From the 1950s to the 1980s, Don Craig and George Swain ran a research program hybridizing and growing hardy rhododendrons at the Kentville Agricultural Experimental Farm.  (see “Recognizing an Inheritance: the Kentville Rhododendron Legacy” by Sheila Stevenson, p. 205-210, JARS Winter 2020). Each year in early June  the “Farm Pond Bank” is ablaze with many of these rhododendrons and azaleas.  This tour will include the story of breeding program, the resulting Rhodies which were distributed throughout Atlantic Canada and the interpretive plaques that tell the story to all visitors.

Gardens of Annapolis Royal  – June 4 2021

In Annapolis Royal, we will first visit Gramercy Park, a country garden started just eight years ago by a couple of garden-crazed ruralists who needed a vegetable garden, a rock garden, an experimental collection of hydrangeas, and over 70 kinds of rhododendrons. Second, we visit the main attraction of this tour, the Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens, a lovely seventeen-acre public garden with meticulously cultivated plantings of roses, magnolias, perennials, conifers and much more. Overlooking a tidal river valley, the Historic Gardens is a premiere Nova Scotia attraction. Home to over 140 species and varieties of rhododendrons from hybridizers such as Steele, Craig, Breuckner, and Weagle, this garden has one of the most complete collections of mature rhododendrons suitable to Eastern Canada.

Coastal Barrens, Gardens and Rhodos – June 5 2021

The tour starts with the granite coastal barrens of Polly’s Cove, a fascinating habitat for ericaceous plants. The tour guide is Dr. Jeremy Lundholm, a biology professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, who explains the coastal ecosystem. The second part shows a coastal garden established within the barrens habitat where you will see how, by judicious use of shelter and niche plantings, a wonderful collection of dwarf rhododendrons and other garden plants have flourished. The final part features a tour of the rhododenrons at Hall’s Road, Boulderwood, Halifax.  Rhodo breeder John Weagle talks about the plants established by Captain Dick Steele, John Brett and Barbara Hall.




ARS Convention 2021 Speakers

Gerald Gloade: Welcome to Mi’kma’ki Kluscap Legends and Landscape

Gerald Gloade is an artist and educator who is currently the Program Development Officer for the Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre. Gerald started his career working as a graphic designer for the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources’ Communications and Education Branch more than 25 years ago. The focus of his work with the Province moved from forestry education and graphic art to sharing his culture and history in the landscape and environment of Mi’kma’ki with audiences of all ages. As an artist, educator and Mi’kmaw storyteller, Gerald guides the development of visitor and educational programs for the centre. His stories and interpretations of the Kluskap legends in particular have captivated many audiences.

Mi’kmawey Debert Cultural Centre

Sheila Stevenson: Rhodos Down East & their proponents: How Rhodos came here!

Sheila will share the results of her enquiry into the interest in growing and breeding the genus rhododendron primarily in Nova Scotia, but with mentions as that history relates to the other 3 provinces in the Atlantic region   (PEI, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador).  She will focus on people and activities, with lots of images, including of course Captain Dick Steele and  Dr. Don Craig of the Kentville Research Station.

Todd Boland: Rhodos in Newfoundland

Todd Boland is the horticulturist at the Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden, whose largest single collection are Rhododendrons. Taking advantage of this, Todd has dabbled in rhododendron breeding during the past 15 years. Through his love of gardening and photography he has written five photographic field guides on the wildflowers and woody plants of Atlantic Canada. Most recently he has written his first gardening book, ‘Favourite Perennials for Atlantic Canada’.   The companion book ‘Favourite Shrubs and Vines for Atlantic Canada’ is due for release in spring of 2021. Todd is active on Facebook, Instagram (todd.boland) and Twitter @jtbolandNL.


Dianne McLeod: A study of disjunct populations of Rhododendron lapponicum in Eastern North America

After a lifetime of botanizing in Eastern North America and 45 years of hunting for wild populations of Rhododendron lapponicum, this is a summary of colonies that the author has found growing in disjunct locations, separated by geographic distance, geology, elevation changes, and microclimate. Ecotypes observed were in remote habitats of eastern Canada, in Newfoundland and Labrador, in the Gaspe area of Quebec and, further south in the United States, the sites visited were in Wisconsin, New York and Maine. S.

Originally from Northern Ontario, Dianne moved from the shores of Lake Superior to eastern Canada over four decades ago. Employed in 1977 by Memorial University of Newfoundland, she was the first horticulturist at the newly developing MUN Botanical Garden, one of the handful of staff that enabled opening of the garden to the public that year. This exciting venture evolved into educational displays, new garden plantings, research and propagation of native plants of Newfoundland and Labrador, including botanizing in many remote locations across the province.  For over 14 years, Dianne’s acquisitions work included the introduction of many new selections of arctic alpines, rock garden and peat plants, with special interests in rhododendrons, heathers, and primulas. In the nursery, she added many species and varieties to the botanical garden inventory from cuttings and wild collected seeds.

Joe Bruso: Breeding Hardy Rhodos (virtual presentation)

Joe Bruso is a hybridizer and propagator of rhododendron species and unusual hybrids, with a focus on attractive foliage as well as flowers.  He maintains a 3 acre woodland garden containing all the hardy species, including the natives, and many hybrids of his own creation. President of the Massachusetts Chapter, American Rhododendron Society. Retired IT professional living and hybridizing in Hopkinton, MA.

Freeman Patterson: The Garden at Shamper’s Bluff (virtual presentation)

After a three year recovery from a health crisis in the year 2000, award winning author and photographer Freeman Patterson decided to create a beautiful flower garden, which he had always dreamed of as a child, but was denied.  With the help of local rhodo enthusiasts he created a three acre woodland garden of 150 varieties of rhododendrons and 50 varieties of azaleas at his homestead of Shamper’s Bluff overlooking the Saint John River in New Brunswick, Canada.  His presentation will show the development of his garden through his photos.

Freeman Patterson is a nature photographer and author who has published over a dozen books including “Photography of Natural Things” and “Photography for the Joy of It.”  For further information about his photography, writing and workshops visit his website: freemanpatterson.com.

Michael Heim: Pushing Hardiness Limits:  Rhododendrons & Their Companions in the Northwoods. (virtual presentation)

The cold winters of northwestern Wisconsin can be a trying environment for woody plants, particularly broadleaved evergreens.  However, the well-drained acidic soils throughout much of the region can be a boon to growing members of the Heath Family (Ericaceae) and other acidophiles.  The results of my research with these plants in this Zone 3 climate will be discussed along with their aesthetic possibilities in a naturalized setting.

Michael Heim is a professor of natural sciences at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College, and is a member of the ARS Midwest Chapter.

Juliana Madeiros and Christina Woodward: ARS Next Generation (virtual presentation)

The ARS Next Generation Project is working to involve and engage new members in ARS chapters and programs.  Projects include a series of pod-casts on For the love of Rhododendrons, working with chapters to help document programs for rooting rhodo cuttings, and establishing activities to mentor new members.  This session will describe the activities and provide a discussion forum on membership renewal for ARS chapters.

Dr. Medeiros leads the plant ecophysiology lab at the Holden Arboretum where she investigates the impact of climate stress on Rhododendron physiology and anatomy, and she is a founding Co-Chair of the ARS Rhododendron Research Network.

Christina Woodward, MA MLIS, is Chair of the ARS ~ Next Gen Committee.

Ken Cox: “Glendoick Gardens 100 Years”  (virtual presentation)

Born in 1964 into a family of renowned plantsmen, Kenneth Cox is grandson of plant hunter, writer and nurseryman Euan Cox and son of Peter Cox VMH. The three generations were and are considered  the world’s leading experts on rhododendrons. 

Kenneth is managing director of the family firm Glendoick Gardens Ltd in Scotland, a garden centre and mail order nursery specialising in Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Ericaceous plants, Meconopsis, Primula and other plants collected by the Cox family around the world. Kenneth is married with two sons and in his spare time plays several musical instruments.

Kenneth is author of numerous books on rhododendrons, Scottish Gardening and Plant Hunting.

He has served on the National Trust for Scotland advisory panel on Gardens and Planned Landscapes and advises the National Trust on several of their woodland gardens. He designs and advises on the restoration of woodland gardens and rhododendron gardens in the UK and elsewhere.

Ken has carved out his particular niche in the world of plant-hunting in leading 9 expeditions to South and South-East Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh, India, 1995-to the present. 

He graduated in 1986 at the University of Birmingham, England with a BA in General Arts and a diploma in commerce. He is married to former literary agent Jane Bradish Ellames, who now runs the Glendoick cafe and foodhall, and they have two sons, Jamie and Finn.

Kenneth Cox is an experienced lecturer on rhododendrons, horticulture and exploration and has lectured throughout the UK, many part of Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Recently talks have been given at literary festivals, botanical gardens, specialist societies as well as The Royal Scottish Geographical Society and Royal Society for Asiatic Affairs.

Christina Woodward and Nick Yarmoshuk, Niagara Region Chapter, ARS:  Systematic Evaluation of the Brueckner Hybrids (virtual presentation)

This five-year, cross-border project, a Niagara Chapter initiative, centers on a systematic evaluation of plant performance of 400 plants across a range of climatic and environmental conditions of the 7 participating institutions and 35 individual gardeners. It seeks to establish the horticultural merit of 80 unique hybrids from the private collection developed by the late Dr. Joseph Brueckner during his residence in both Atlantic and Ontario provinces. The custom-designed data entry and retrieval system will have potential relevance for application across many types of research related to rhododendrons and azaleas. This Project is supported in part through the
generous funding from the Endowment Fund of the American Rhododendron Society and the Research Committee of the Azalea Society of America.

Nick Yarmoshuk has been active in the Niagara Chapter and the ARS for more than 20 years. He has held the Chair of the Test & Display Garden Committee for well over the last decade. In 1998 Nick was awarded the RSC Leslie Hancock Award; in 2017 Nick received the ARS Silver Medal.

Christina Woodward is Dr. Brueckner’s daughter and curator of his hybridizing documents and photographs. She assumed care of the valuable horticultural inventory and today still participates in stewarding the collection. Currently she is District Director for District 12.


Breeder’s Virtual Roundtable: Co-chaired by Jamie Ellison and John Weagle

Hear about the latest trends and developments rhododendron culture from the breeders who are part of ARS. The breeders will give a brief presentation on their breeding goals within their individual breeding regimes. Some questions that will be discussed include:

Foliage: Breeding for hardy large leaf’s that look like their tender counterparts; red pigmentation in new growth and leaves; longer retention of tomentum

Flower Colour: Breeding for hardy oranges, pastels, good yellows and reds

Lepidotes: Hardy “Blue” lepidotes; more exotic colours in hardy lepidotes (Hardy R. cinnabarinum hybrids)

What’s on the horizon?

Where is Rhododendron breeding headed?

New species in the mix. What new species are entering our breeding programs?


Philip MacDougall: “Berberidaceae: Shade Companions for Rhodos”

This presentation explores the herbaceous Berberadaceae, focusing on Epimediums and Podophyllums. They have been cultivated for centuries as tough, deer resistant doers in the woodland garden. Until 30 years ago we had 9 species between the 2 genera and perhaps as many hybrids, all introduced over 150 years ago.  With the reopening of China in the 80’s over 60 species of Epimedium have been described and introduced, plus a number of dramatic Podophyllum species and hybrids. It’s puzzling why some of the best woodlanders around haven’t widely entered our gardens. I’ll discuss some of the reasons why and do a hands on demonstration on propagation and division and give suggestions on that all-important aspect,  acquisition.

Kristian Theqvist: Rhodos and Gardens of Finland (virtual presentation)

– Climate in Finland – effect of changing climate on culture of rhododendrons
– Public and private rhododendron gardens in Finland
– Best of the hardy Finnish rhododendron hybrids
– New hybrids from Kristian Theqvist – production now in Northern Europe

President of the Finnish Rhododendron Society, section of the Finnish Dendrological Society 2010 –
President of the Finnish Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society 2012 –
Chairman of the Friends of the Arboretum Mustila 2010 – 2012, Member of the Board 2005 – 2009 & 2013 – 2018



The ARS ~ Next Generation Program:

Rhododendron Through Your Lens Photo Competition

This virtual competition is open to all!  We are seeking entries for the ARS-Next Gen photo contest. The purpose of the contest is to:

  1. Provide students an opportunity to participate in an ARS activity, with monetary prizes to encourage students to engage in plants.
  2. Raise awareness to the next generation about the fundamental importance of conserving Rhododendron species and their native habitats.
  3. Provide ARS members with an opportunity to share their love of plants across generations, and to learn more about the next generation’s interests.
  4. Create a photo archive to support volunteer next generation social media content creators.

For more information on how to participate, photo criteria, photo themes, awards and prizes, go to ARS Next Generation Photo Competition!   Winners will be announced at the ARS Spring 2021 Convention and award-winning photos will be displayed with photo credit on the ARS-Next Gen Flickr page.

Photo Contest Sponsor Acknowledgement

The ARS-Next Gen Committee thanks Blue Sky Nursery for the generous donation of the cash awards.  Blue Sky Nursery is a wholesale nursery, grower of quality broadleaf evergreens, flowering shrubs and perennials located in Ontario Canada.  For more information please visit their website.

For more information contact Christina Woodward at canadacaw@yahoo.ca or Dr. Juliana Medeiros at jmedeiros@holdenarb.org

June 3-6, 2021 Wolfville, Nova Scotia - Register Now