1962 Biennial – Miami, Florida

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Date(s) - 04/17/1962 - 04/18/1962
All Day


Report of the Biennial Meeting

At 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 14th, 1962, members began to gather for The Palm Society’s official meeting, which takes place in alternate years.  An hour earlier, those who were acting as hosts and helping in many other capacities, had already arrived to put the finishing touches on exhibits, man the registration tables and do all the last-minute chores.  The Garden House at Fairchild Tropical Garden had been transformed, through many hours of hard work, into a series of palm gardens and exhibits, which enchanted our visiting members and their guests.

John E. Turner was chairman of the exhibits and decorations committee.  He and his committee made some ambitious plans, which were carried out with great success.  Mrs. George F. Adams volunteered to take charge of arranging the palm fronds, inflorescences and fruits, most of which were obtained from the estate of Mrs. Alvin R. Jennings, a director of the Society, through her generosity and the valuable help of the estate superintendent, Mr. Ray Vernon.  Truckloads of material arrived, and Maria Adams, with the help of the strong backs and willing hearts of P.B. Tomlinson, James R. Coad, Melvin Andrews, Harold White, Russell Lawrence, Mrs. W.C. Gorman, Mrs. Richard Hoeller and others, lugged large palm trunks, huge fronds, colorful inflorescences and fruit clusters, placed them artistically against woven palm matting on, in front of, and at each side of the speakers’ platform.  The fragrance of some of the palm flowers, notably the orange Arenga engleri, permeated the entire auditorium, even filtering out into the Fountain Court to greet arrivals as they entered the grounds.  The many genera and species were clearly labeled with black-and-white plastic markers, made by Scott Donachie, staff member at Fairchild Garden.

Registration tables, on the loggia outside the auditorium, were “manned” by members Mrs. F.E. Harlow, Mrs. T.H. Baumgartner, Mrs. M.S.H. Kneale and Mrs. H.L. Nies.  As members registered, they were presented with name badges beautifully lettered by Harvey Beswick.

As they entered the auditorium, they were greeted by two lovely palm gardens.  The one on the right was the work of Alix, Landscape Décor, who used tall stalks of Paurotis wrightii, massedChamaedoreas and other small palms, with orchids and bromels for color.  Opposite this small garden was a charming bamboo fence, backed and fronted with various unusual species of small palms, and hung with orchids and bromeliads.  This was created by Ray Stoner, who at the same time was associated with R.G. Wilson, owner of Fantastic Gardens.  Alix and Mr. Stoner were ably assisted by another of our members, Helmuth Dressler.  Attractive signs for these and some of the other exhibits were furnished by Mrs. E.G. Piper.

In another corner, member Robert W. Read had established a colorful coconut display.  A full-grown dwarf Malay coconut towered over a thatched hut where commercial palm products were arrayed – hearts of palm, coconut candies and flakes, etc.  Jim Coad presided over the green coconuts, opening them, adding a straw and offering them to visitors for a taste of the refreshing milk.  Some of the out-of-town guests received gifts of freshly woven coconut leaf hats.

From Fairchild Garden’s greenhouse and slathouse, John Turner and Maria Adams had brought some of the rarest and choicest infant palms, such as Cyrtostachys lakka, Areca langloisianaand a dozen others, to be admired and coveted by our avid collectors.  Enlargements of color photographs of the mature plants gave an idea of their beauty when fully grown.  Nat De Leon brought a table-full of miniature palms, with a sign saying: “Who says a palm has to be big?”, which attracted attention.

Among the economic exhibits was a handsome rattan chair, made of a species of Calamus, with rug, drapery, and lamp forming a harmonious group.  A small golden coconut and a spray of the orange flowers of Arenga engleri added the final touch to the handsome group loaned by Richard Plumer, Interiors.  There was also a collection of brooms and brushes made of the fibers of the piassava palm (Attalea funifera), courtesy of the Fuller Brush Company.

A popular feature of the show was a contest among local members, showing their favorite palm, with any accessories, which might add to its educational or artistic values.  These, of necessity, were young plants in containers, and some very outstanding palms were entered.  This contest was under the direction of Mrs. R.C. Robertson.  The judges, all from out-of-town, were the Society’s president, Eugene D. Kitzke, Dr. Frits Went, Director of Missouri Botanical Garden, and the eminent botanical painter, member Lee Adams.  First prize ribbon went to Lucita Wait, second to Mrs. George F. Adams, third to Mrs. Paul Buhler and honorable mention to Mrs. Theodore Buhler.

After seeing the exhibits inside the building, members were invited to tour the Garden’s palm collection aboard the Fairchild Rambler, with Nat De Leon as able guide.  The tour ended at the Garden’s new laboratories, where Dr. P.B. Tomlinson and Robert Read were hosts in their respective offices, showing and describing the scientific research they are considering.

Tables and chairs had been set up under the large Phoenix canariensis beside the Garden House; about 90 persons were served lunch and had further opportunity to visit and exchange palm talk.

The formal meeting began at 2:00 p.m.  Nixon Smiley, director of the Fairchild Garden, welcomed the Society.  The minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved.  Then the President, Secretary and Treasurer presented their reports for the biennium.  In the absence of the Treasurer, who could not be present for business reasons, Robert Lair read his report.  The President thanked Mr. Murray for the outstanding job he had done, and thanked Mrs. Murray also, for her work as “assistant treasurer”.

The President then called on Dent Smith, chairman of the nominating committee for his report.  He presented the following slate of officers for the coming biennium:
President: David Barry, Jr., Los Angeles, Calif.
Vice-President: Nat J. De Leon, South Miami, Florida.
Treasurer: Mrs. Malcolm S.H. Kneale, Coral Gables, Florida.
Secretary: Mrs. L.H. Wait, South Miami, Fla.

The President called for nominations from the floor.  There being none, Mr. Billings MacArthur moved for a unanimous vote in favor of the slate as presented.  The motion was seconded and carried.  Mr. Smith then presented the list of names to be voted on for directors of the Society: Paul H. Allen, David Barry, Jr., Nat J. De Leon, Mrs. David Fairchild, William Hertrich, Walter H. Hodge, Mrs. Alvin R. Jennings, Eugene D. Kitzke, Harold F. Loomis, Harold E. Moore, Jr. and Nixon Smiley.  Nominations from the floor were called for.  Col. E.G. Piper nominated Walter J. Murray and Dent Smith.  Mr. John T. Ogden nominated Mrs. E.G. Henriquez.  Mr. Willard Hubbell moved that the nominations be closed.  Mr. MacArthur moved that the slate be put to a vote.  The motion was seconded and passed.  The slate was elected.

After a ten-minute break, the audience returned to hear the program.

Nat De Leon told about some experiments he was carrying on in the use of the new systemic insect poisons, which are absorbed into the plant tissues and from them into the bodies of chewing and sucking insects with fatal results.  Rows of small palms were arranged, and alternate rows were treated with two different makes of systemic poisons in varying dosages: ¼ teaspoon and ½ teaspoon respectfully.  Alternate rows were left untreated as controls.  Twenty-one days later the treated rows were free of pests, while the untreated rows were infested.  The amount of dosage apparently did not affect the results.  These tests are incomplete, he said, as only a few species of palms were tested.  The systemics are still in the experimental stage and are available only to commercial growers.  Being extremely poisonous to human beings as well as insects, they must be used with great caution.

Dent Smith spoke on some remarkable cases of re-growth of palm buds after seemingly total destruction.  He indicated that we should not despair of the life of some palms if the dead and decaying material is carefully cleared away from the living tissue.  He also suggested that further study of this regeneration should be made, and that we need not blindly accept the dictum that “once the bud is dead the palm is dead”.

A round table, moderated by Nixon Smiley, followed.  Brief talks were given by T.R. Baumgartner on palm nutrients, H.F. Loomis on using the proper palm in the proper place and James Vosters on the problems of the wholesale palm grower.  A question and answer period followed.  The meeting was adjourned at 5 p.m.

We met again for dinner in the Starlight Room of the Biscayne Terrace Hotel.  Mrs. George Simmons made an exquisite arrangement of silver palm (Coccothrinax argentata) leaves for the speakers’ table, and the place cards, made by Mrs. H.F. Loomis, were tiny coconut palms with heads made of living Tillandsia fasciculata.  Centerpieces for the smaller tables were boat-shaped spathes of Attalea species, filled with colorfruit fruits, chiefly Ptychosperma elegans.  Mrs. Loomis and Mrs. Harvey Beswick helped with the decorations.

After dinner we had the pleasure of hearing a most witty as well as informative illustrated lecture by Dr. Frits Went, Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Mo.  He told and showed how the fabulous new Climatron has replaced the huge old greenhouse there, and of the method used to create individual climates to suit the requirements of various climatological types of plants.

On the following afternoon, Sunday, the Society’s exhibit at Fairchild Garden was opened to the public.  Several hundred persons came to see and lingered, admiring and asking questions.

Members divided into two groups; one group spent several hours looking at mature palms in the collections of the A.R. Jennings estate and the U.S. Plant Introduction Station (Chapman Field).  The other group visited nurseries to see young palms in containers and in the field.  The weather was good, and everyone apparently had an enjoyable time.  However, we missed the several hundred of you who were not able to attend.  Perhaps two years from now?  We hope so.

Lucita Hardie Wait – Executive Secretary