From Principes (July, 1964), Vol. 8, No. 3: Pages 79-86. Click here to view photos
Report of the Biennial Meeting
The California members of The Palm Society were hosts to the fourth Biennial Meeting, which was held at the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum, Arcadia, Calif., on April 11th, 1964 at 10 a.m. About sixty members and their guests were present.
After reports from the officers (printed elsewhere in this number), the following officers were elected for the coming biennium:
All previous directors were re-elected, and Dr. John Popenoe, Director of Fairchild Tropical Garden, was elected to fill the vacancy left by the death of Mr. Paul Allen.
After the business meeting, the group adjourned to a seminar room, where the question of forming a Cycad Society, which might possibly be associated with the Palm Society, was discussed. It was decided to begin with an informal group, which eventually might become an organized society. Mr. Loran Whitelock showed slides of his extensive cycad collection.
Following lunch, the members were given a conducted tour of the Arboretum, with special emphasis on the palm collection, which is under the care of Mr. Charles Mozolon. Returning to the main building, the group heard a talk by Mr. Dent Smith on cold damage to his palms at Daytona Beach, Florida, with before and after pictures. He reported that in many cases palms, which had been given up for dead, made amazing recoveries, even when their tops had been sawed off.
That evening the banquet was held at the Sportsmen’s Lodge Tavern in Duarte. It was a merry group, with much animated conversation. Dr. John Popenoe was the speaker, giving an account of the work with palms going on at Fairchild Tropical Garden – both the scientific work and the introduction of new species. He told us that this summer 256 new species will be planted on the grounds of the Garden, most of them never before grown in the United States. He showed color slides of the Garden and part of its palm collection.
On Sunday morning the Huntington Botanical Garden opened its gates for our group before the regular visiting hours. We were happy to greet Mr. William Hertrich, who has honored the Society by being one of its directors since its beginnings. Mr. Myron Kimnach, Superintendent, welcomed us and gave a short history of the Garden. We loitered among the gorgeous plantings until noon, enjoying not only the palms but the other great collections of plants. After lunch, many members visited retail nurseries to see the palms, which are now going out into the gardens of southern California residents.
Monday was Santa Barbara day. Boarding our chartered bus at the Arboretum soon after eight, we sped along through walnut and lemon groves and fields ready for planting, arriving at Goleta at half past ten, where we were met by our new Vice-President, Mr. Otto Martens, with a caterer’s truck offering refreshments. A walk through the Diegaard wholesale nursery opened our eyes to the fact that ornamental palms are being grown and sold by the hundred thousand, at prices, which to the Floridians, seemed fantastic.
A walk through the ocean cliff brought us to the lovely garden of Mr. Jakob Dekker, on More Mesa Road. Here a tapestry of plants – mostly succulents, but with philodendrons and other semi-tropicals mixed in – caused wonder and admiration.
After lunch we visited the famous palms at the Santa Barbara County Court House. There were old and beautiful Howeas, a mature New Zealand shaving brush palm, Rhopalostylis sapida, and other long-established palms of great height. On the opposite side of the building, Mr. H.E. Bauernschmidt, of the county’s planning board, is establishing a planting of newer species.
The day’s grand finale was a tour of “Lotusland”, the estate of Mme. Ganna Walska. Our hostess graciously met us at the entrance gate, framed by two enormous Jubaea chilensis. From garden to garden we followed her, entranced. The succulent garden, the water garden, the cactus garden, the palm garden, the patio filled with baskets of blooming epiphyllums, the bromeliad collection, the open-air theatre, the living clock, the topiary garden, and the cycad collection followed each other in amazing sequence. In a touching gesture of friendship, Mme. Walska called Mr. Otto Martens to her side, showing him a plaque among the palms, stating that this part of the garden was dedicated to him. There was enthusiastic applause. Passing under the tall tree ferns and along the edge of the orchard where citrus trees were in fragrant bloom, we were conducted to tables shaded by umbrellas with raffia palm covers and several elegant refreshments of champagne punch, sandwiches and caviar, as well as beautiful cakes bearing the legend: “Welcome to Lotusland”. When Madame learned that Mr. De Leon is the son-in-law of the owner of the Parrot Jungle, she said that she had been there, and also to Fairchild Tropical Garden, and graciously went to the house to bring her pet cockatiel for the bird-lovers in the group to see. Many color pictures were made on this beautiful day, so that those who were not present may share in some of the pleasure we had.
Tuesday was a free day. Four out-of-towners, Dr. John Popenoe, Dr Velva Rudd, Assistant Curator of the Botany Department of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., Mr. Billings McArthur of Winter Park, Florida and Mrs. Lucita Wait visited the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden to see the native California plants in a riot of bloom, and meet some of the staff there. After a memorable morning they lunched at Padua Hills, a charming Mexican restaurant with good food and native Mexican singing and dancing.
Wednesday morning we boarded our fine air-conditioned bus for the trip to Indio to see the U.S. Department of Agriculture Date Field Station. Two members from San Diego – Mr. W.F. Sinjen and Mr. Jim Specht – joined us there. We were cordially received by Mr. Roy Nixon, Horticulturist in charge, who explained the work being done there. After a tour of a date packing plant we continued to Palm Springs for lunch. Then came the thrilling experience of going into Andreas and Palm Canyons to see the tremendous trees of Washingtonia filifera, which have been growing there for many centuries. Snow-capped San Jacinto mountain nearby, the lovely clear streams, the stately palms and beautiful birds made unforgettable pictures.
On Friday we boarded the chartered bus once more and greeted the handsome agreeable young driver who, we had discovered, is an orchid collector. Making all speed southwards, we reached Presidio Park in San Diego almost on time; we were met by a number of members who live there, who had come to spend the day showing us their sights. After a briefing by the curator of the museum at Presidio Park, we went on to Balboa Park where we saw mature specimens of Erythea brandegeei and Howea belmoreana as well as many other fascinating plants. After touring the park on one of the sight-seeing trains and stealing a few minutes for the tropical bird house, we lunched at the park, then had a delightful trip around San Diego and out to Point Loma, seeing many bits of good landscaping as we passed through the residential areas. The perfect ending was a visit to Mr. W.F. Sinjen’s charming small house and garden, which he has made spacious by the ingenious use of areas opening into each other. After enjoying the refreshments provided by him, we regretfully said good-bye to our hosts and to each other. Some returned to Los Angeles on the bus, some stayed on in San Diego to go their various ways on Saturday. All, I think, could say that it had been a wonderful week.
Lucita H. Wait