1966 Biennial – Miami Florida

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Date(s) - 04/16/1966 - 04/17/1966
All Day


The Biennial Meeting
The Palm Society celebrated its tenth year of existence and its fifth Biennial Meeting under the most felicitous circumstances.  The weather was warm and sunny, Fairchild Tropical Garden had recuperated from two severe hurricanes well enough to make a lovely setting for our meeting, everyone seemed to be in a delightful mood, and although some of us had never met before, we were friends.

One hundred members and guests were served at the luau.  Unfortunately, we had to turn away some late-comers due to lack of space and food, but they were invited to come back later for the meetings.  Long tables were set on the loggia of the Garden House, covered with pastel colored cloths and decorated with tiny potted palms, ferns and hibiscus.  Mr. John E. Turner produced some spectacular flower arrangements for the buffet table, using strelitzias and anthuriums provided by Exotic Gardens.  Our Hawaiian caterers provided delicious and exotic food, and later on entertained us with some Hawaiian dances.

The auditorium of the Garden House was enhanced by the series of exquisite palm paintings by the well-known Jacksonville artist, Lee Adams, which were donated to the Fairchild Garden by Dr. Arthur Montgomery, son of the Garden’s founder.  Miss Frieda Seemann placed numbers on the paintings and corresponding numbered lists of names close by, to help in identifying the palms.  On the stage, as a background for the speakers, Mrs. George Adams and Miss Lesley Jackson arranged fronds, flowers and fruits of some of the more spectacular palms in interesting patterns.  These decorations came from the grounds of Fairchild Tropical Garden and of the A.R. Jennings estate.

Under the chairmanship of Alix, of Alix Landscape Décor, a committee consisting of Messrs. Nat De Leon, Cecil Hartson, Paul Drummond, and Scott Donachie arranged groups of the rarer palms in containers, labeled so that members could study them.  These aroused much interest, since they were mostly new and unfamiliar to us.

The business meeting began at half past two.  The out-going President, Mr. Nat J. De Leon, presided.  He presented Dr. John Popenoe, Director of Fairchild Tropical Garden, who welcomed the members and guests of The Palm Society.  Mr. De Leon then greeted all the members present, mentioning specially the five who came from California, two from Texas, and one each from New York State and the District of Columbia.  He also recognized the Society’s founder, Mr. Dent Smith.

The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved.

The retiring Treasurer, Mr. T.R. Baumgartner, read the financial report, which will be found elsewhere in this issue.  He and his wife, Frances, were warmly thanked by the Executive Secretary for their extremely valuable help during the past two years.

The Secretary reported that 85 new members have joined the Society during 1964-66.  We now have 377 members in 23 states and possessions of the United States and 73 members in other countries, making a total of 410.  This is a considerable drop in membership, she said, and a real effort should be made to recruit new members and reinstate some of those who have dropped out.  During the biennium we lost four members by death: Dr. Max Burret, Mr. O.J. Priebe, Mr. Alvin B. Cutler and Mr. Erle Wirt, Jr.  They are greatly missed.

The President called on Mr. Robert Lair, Chairman of the Nominating Committee, to present the nominations for officers for the coming biennium.  The slate of officers was read: for President, Mr. Otto Martens, Monrovia, Calif.; for Vice-President, Dr. John Popenoe, Miami, Fla.; for Treasurer, Mr. Wallace E. Manis, Miami, Fla.  The President called for nominations from the floor; there being none, the slate was unanimously elected.

Mr. Lair then read the nominations for the Board of Directors.  To serve for a period of two years: Mr. David Barry, Jr., Mr. Nat J. De Leon, Mrs. Alvin R. Jennings, Mr. Walter J. Murray, Dr. John Popenoe, Mr. Nixon Smiley, Mr. Dent Smith.  To serve for a period of four years: Dr. Walter H. Hodge, Mr. Eugene Kitzke, Mr. Harold F. Loomis, Mr. Wallace E. Manis, Dr. Harold E. Moore, Jr., Mrs. L.H. Wait, Madame Ganna Walska.  There being no nominations from the floor, the directors were unanimously elected.

Following the business meeting, four speakers were heard.  Dr. Popenoe described some experiments carried out at Fairchild Garden on methods of germinating hard-to-sprout palm seeds, such as Acrocomia spp. and Arenga engleri.

Dr. Velva Rudd, Associate Curator of the Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., and Mr. Loomis, retired Director of the U.S.D.A. Plant Introduction Station, Miami, Florida, reminisced about the late Dr. O.F. Cook and his work with palms.

The newly-elected President, Mr. Otto Martens, gave an illustrated talk on the modern use of palms in landscaping in California and the renewed interest in them since 1950.

At the evening meeting Dr. H.E. Moore, Jr. took us on a fascinating trip via talk and slides, showing various parts of the world where he has been palm hunting, with special emphasis on Lord Howe and Juan Fernandez islands.

On Sunday morning ten members flew to Nassau for the day.  They were met by Mr. O.S. Russell, Chief of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Bahamas, and two of his assistants, Mr. William S. Neil and Mr. A.K. Murray, who devoted the entire day to showing them the unusual gardens and palm collections of Nassau.  The morning was spent at “The Retreat”, home of Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Langlois.  The group had a wonderful time seeing the many rare palms hidden away in “pot-holes” among the native growth which has been allowed to remain.  One climatic moment was the first sight of the beautiful Areca langloisiana with its orange leaf-sheaths.  Since the Langlois were away, it was most fortunate that Dr. Moore was one of the party, otherwise many rare palms would have remained unidentified.

After a most pleasant visit at Mr. and Mrs. Russell’s delightful home and lunch at the Montague Beach Hotel, they drove to “Glenwood”, the home of Mrs. A. Wentworth Ericson, O.B.E.  The garden is on a slope, and a number of terraces lead down to level ground.  Although we were impressed with the lush look of the growth, with palms of many sizes featured on each terrace, Mrs. Ericson, who graciously came out to greet us, grieves for the plants which were destroyed by the severe hurricane of September, 1965.  One of the most interesting palms to be seen there is Arenga undulatifolia, with wide, wavy-edged leaflets of an almost steel-blue color, and long strands of immature fruits.

Having lingered so long at these intriguing places, time was getting short and the group had to hurry through Sir Harold and Lady Christie’s impressive example of an old garden near the center of town and skip two or three other places which had been on the itinerary.  Bidding their hosts a grateful goodbye, the travelers sank into their airplane seats fully satisfied with their day.

The members who did not go to Nassau met at Fairchild Tropical Garden at half past two, and from there went to the Alvin R. Jennings estate, where they were welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Jennings and taken on a tour of the grounds by Mr. Nat De Leon.  This large acreage was developed by the late Col. Robert H. Montgomery, who imported palms and palm seeds with such success that the Montgomery collection became world-famous.  Mrs. Jennings, (the former Mrs. Montgomery) has preserved it as she knows the Colonel would have done.  With maturity the palms have become even more impressive than during his lifetime.

After being served refreshments the group returned to Fairchild Garden where its Superintendent, Mr. Stanley Kiem, took over the guide’s job and led them on a more detailed trip than they had had time for previously.

To all the kind and generous friends who unselfishly contributed to the success of the meeting, our most sincere and hearty thanks.

Lucita Hardie Wait – Executive Secretary