The Mason-Dixon Chapter

of the

American Rhododendron Society


'Gilbert Myers'
developed by Helen Myers, photo by Don Hyatt


The Mason-Dixon Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society is recognized as one of the more active chapters in the American Rhododendron Society, holding various get-togethers throughout the year and helping to educate the public about rhododendrons at a number of public events (latest schedule).

The chapter was founded in 1981 and is one of three in District 9 of the ARS. A number of members from that first year remain involved in chapter activities today. Chapter members also hold a number of positions on the national level, and the Mason-Dixon Chapter is proud to claim the late Ed Reiley, a past president and Gold Medal winner of the American Rhododendron Society and the author of Success with Rhododendrons and Azaleas, as one of its charter members. The current president of the ARS is Ann Mangels, another Mason-Dixon member.The Mason-Dixon Chapter joined with the other District 9 chapters (the Potomac Valley Chapter and the Middle Atlantic Chapter) and the Brookside Gardens Chapter of the Azalea Society of America to host a joint convention of the Rhododendron Society and the Azalea Society in Rockville, Maryland, in May of 2006 and the three ARS chapters joined the Northern Virginia CHapter of the ASA to hold a convention in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 2016.

While the chapter members are largely from central Maryland, or, as the weather broadcasters of this region are so fond of saying, "the normally colder northern and western suburbs," members come to the chapter functions from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. Associate members cover an even wider geographical range. Our regular meetings and a number of our other activities are in the centrally located town of Westminster, Maryland.

The Mason-Dixon Chapter helps to bring the joy of gardening (especially with rhododendrons!) to the public with booths at several Maryland home and garden shows, other garden-related activities, and appearances at local nurseries. For a number of years, the chapter has had a booth at the Maryland Home & Garden Show at the State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Shortly after the Timonium show, we also have booths at the Frederick County Home Show and the Carroll County Home Show. In 2011, we had a booth at the inaugural Carroll County Fall Home Show in October. Members are on hand throughout the shows to answer questions. Please stop by and visit us at any of these events.

The chapter is active year-round, holding meetings, workshops, and other events, some of which are for members only.

Our educational programs are held primarily in the fall and spring months at the Bear Branch Nature Center north of Westminster (map). We meet to exchange ideas and hear speakers on a variety of topics dealing primarily with rhododendrons and azaleas, but also covering other aspects of landscape gardening. Topics in recent years have included camellias, hollies, and spring-flowering bulbs. Azalea (Azaleas are part of the genus Rhododendron.) and rhododendron topics have included Jim Sullivan, past president of the Potomac Bonsai Association on rhododendrons and azaleas as bonsai, Jane Goodrich of the Potomac Valley Chapter of the ARS on the pioneering hybridizing of Joe Gable, and Joe Klimavicz of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Azalea Society on the new azalea hybrids he and his daughters have developed in their backyard. We have also had a number of programs over the last few years on native American azaleas by some of America's top experts on the subject. Our regular meetings are open to everyone.

A number of hands-on events are held each year. Each summer we present a demonstration on how to root cuttings, followed by our annual cutting auction. Other topics include how to care for the young plants and move them into the garden, raising rhododendrons and azaleas from seed, and the proper method and timing of pruning plants. The chapter newsletter, issued quarterly, includes cultural tips on these and other subjects.

There are also some sub-groups within the chapter. A hybridizers group was formed in early 2006 to explore the possibilities that lie within the vast genus Rhododendron. The group gets together a couple times a year to share experiences and ideas about what new hybrids to attempt. (Just some of the hybrids developed by chapter members can be viewed here.) A Plant Development Committee has recently started up, working to increase the variety of plants available, both to members and to the public at our annual show and sale. We stuck our first crop of cuttings in 2008, concentrating on a number of hybrids created by chapter members and some of the less common rhododendron cultivars developed by Gable and Dexter.

Other activities include an informal winter luncheon and a spring garden tour, usually highlighting several members' gardens. Each year, a picnic is held, wrapping up the summer's activities.

The big event of the year is our annual Show and Sale in May. Our show in 2021 will be held in conjunction with the Carroll County Farmers' Market on May 8 from 8:00 AM until 2:00 PM at the Carroll County Ag Center 706 Agricultural Center Dr, Westminster, Maryland Along with rhododendrons and azaleas, a number of perennials and other companion plants will be available for purchase. This year we also expect to have some tomato and pepper seedlings for sale. Our club table usually has a wide variety of items, but with the virus still going strong, it is hard to say what we might have for sale.




President: Harry Reid Secretary: Georgia Myers
Past President: Sonny Coble Treasurer: Bill Mangels
Vice-President: John Kaylor Membership: Georgia Myers


If you would like more information on the Mason-Dixon Chapter or its activities, please contact Webmaster or see our Schedule. To join, please contact Webmaster or see the membership page of this web site. You can also visit the membership section of the ARS web site and join the society online.

For more information about rhododendrons see the American Rhododendron Society or visit some of the sites on our links page.



Copyright Mason-Dixon Chapter, ARS, 2010-2021.