1974 Biennial – Miami

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Date(s) - 06/22/1974 - 06/25/1974
All Day


1974 Biennial Meeting in Miami, Florida

Palm Society members who had arrived in Miami by 6 p.m. Saturday, June 22, 1974 had their first visit with each other at the Reception-Buffet hosted by the Dade County members at the Corbin Education Building at Fairchild Tropical Garden.  A gay mood prevailed as new and old-time members greeted each other.  Adding to the pleasure of the occasion and giving a foretaste of what was to come were the rare and beautiful potted specimen palms grown by the Garden and used to decorate the area.

Dr. John Popenoe, Director of Fairchild Garden, opened the Garden at 8 a.m. on Sunday, June 23 so members could take advantage of the cooler morning hours as well as enjoy a free tram ride with Paul Drummond acting as narrator.  Members then wandered about admiring the hundreds of palms and especially enjoyed a visit to the Rare Plant House.  Here are found palms, ferns and many other exotics that need some protection from Miami’s occasional cool spells, sometime winds or hot sun.  At the registration desk members were delighted to learn that due to the large registration (115 paid member registrations, total attendance including wives and children 170) there would be no charge for the Sunday sandwich lunch or for the Monday box supper.

A delicious and plentiful sandwich lunch was served at noon.  Afterwards all adjourned to the Nell Montgomery Garden House.  President Foster convened the meeting at 1:30 p.m.  He welcomed the many members, especially those from afar such as Dr. V. Santos from Manila, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Carter from England, Mrs. Frances Schobel and Mr. Norman Bezona from Hawaii, Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Sneed from Jamaica, Mrs. M.H. Hilder form St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Anthony Lambe from Portugal and Mr. and Mrs. George Kimber from the Cayman Islands.  The others came from all over the U.S. with an especially large contingent from California.

The President, Secretary, Treasurer and Executive Secretary each gave brief reports.  Mr. Otto Martens announced that Madame Ganna Walska, Board member, had given him a check for $1,000 for the society with the stipulation it be used to cover unmet expenses of the Biennial Meeting or for other purposes of the society.  President Foster expressed the sentiments of the entire membership when he asked Mr. Martens to thank Madame Ganna Walska warmly for her generous gift.

The President announced that Dr. Jerome Keuper, President of Florida Institute of Technology at Melbourne, Florida had invited the society to hold the 1976 Biennial Meeting on the campus, where the already numerous palm plantings are constantly being added to.  Excellent facilities are available including inexpensive dormitory rooms, a cafeteria, a banquet room and an air-conditioned auditorium.  The Dent Smith Trail, an area of native growth with a brook is a delightful setting for the many exotic palms which are now becoming mature.  Busses belonging to the Institute stand ready to take the group to Tampa to see Dr. U.A. Young’s magnificent palm collection and other nearby points of interest.

The nominating Committee, Chairman Otto Martens, member David Barry Jr. and Dr. Stewart Mathews, presented the slate of Officers for 1974-1976 as follows:

President – Dr. U.A. Young
Vice-President – Mr. Myron Kimnach
Secretary – Mrs. Lucita H. Wait
Treasurer – Mr. Brian T. Gaine

Directors for 1974-76:
Mr. Kenneth C. Foster – California
Mr. Brian T. Gaine – Florida
Dr. Jerome P. Keuper – Florida
Dr. H.E. Moore, Jr. – New York
Dr. John Popenoe – Florida
Mr. Toshihiko Satake – Japan
Mrs. Lucita Wait – Florida
Madame Ganna Walska – California

There being no nominations from the floor, Dr. Mathews moved that the slate be unanimously elected.  Motion seconded and carried.

Dr. Jack Fisher, Plant Morphologist at Fairchild Tropical garden, stated that he was very concerned about the problem of lethal yellowing disease and the possibility that The Palm Society might spread this disease to areas of the world not now infected.  The Palm Society’s Seed Bank is the most active distribution center for palm seeds in the world today and it would be a catastrophe if through its efforts new palm areas should become infected, either through seeds or through transport of plants by its members.  He therefore proposed a quarantine on both seeds and plants originating in South Florida or other infected areas until more is known about transmission of lethal yellowing.  Dr. H. E. Moore, Jr. moved that such a ban be instituted and that the Department of Agriculture of the State of Florida and of the United States be sent copies of such a resolution.  Motion seconded and carried.  This resolution had already been brought up at the prior Board Meeting and approved by the Board.  This policy had been implemented previous to the Biennial Meeting and was the reason for the cancellation of the previously planned sale of rare palm seedlings.

The first speaker of the afternoon, Dr. Robert Read, Associate Curator at the Smithsonian Institution, enlightened the audience on the Sex Life of Palms.  Dr. Read showed detailed slides of the enormous variety of palm flowers and described the various ways pollination is achieved.

Mr. George Gwin, Supervisor, Division of Plant Industry, State of Florida, gave a brief summary of the history of lethal yellowing of palms.  In the U.S. the disease was first observed in Key West in 1955 and now is rampant in the southern counties of Florida, especially in the Miami area.  It is estimated that approximately 60,000 coconuts have died in the last three years in addition to other palms that now have been found also to be infected.  The effects of the disease can usually be controlled by injections of Terramycin; injections must be repeated every four to seven months.  Terramycin will be available to the public in July, with two types of injectors being developed which individuals can use to treat their own trees.

Dr. William D. Bell, Horticulturist at Fairchild Tropical Garden, spoke about the experiments he has been making with the soil in which palm seedlings are planted.  A more detailed report of his work will appear in a separate article.

The last part of the afternoon’s program was a panel discussion on the germinating and growing of palm seeds.  It was emphasized that no matter what mix is used, adequate and constant moisture, drainage, and porousness of growing media are important.  Panelists were Ken Foster, amateur grower, Nat DeLeon, avid palm grower and horticulturist in charge of Miami’s beautiful Parrot Jungle, Stanley Kiem, Superintendent of Fairchild Tropical garden, Otto Martens, retired commercial grower, Bill Mowry, John Turner and Dr. U.A. Young, all three successful amateur growers of rare palms.

The Sunday evening banquet at the pleasant Riviera Country Club was a festive affair, preceded by a social hour.  Members sat at tables for 10 decorated with magnificent anthuriums contributed by member Mrs. Margaret Hirose of Hawaii and arranged by John Turner.  At each table a star was placed under one plate awarding the arrangement to the lucky finder.  Each lady present was given a charming ceramic palm pendant made and contributed by member Jamie Hampton of Boca Raton.  Ruth Shatz, able chairman of entertainment, helped pass out these favors.  Otto Martens formally presented Madame Walska’s $1,000 check to retiring President Foster.

After dinner Dr. H.E. Moore, Jr. showed some of his many wonderful slides and the audience listened spellbound while he told about the palms he had seen on far flung islands.

Monday morning a visit to the magnificent and towering palm collection at the Jennings Estate was a thrilling experience despite the hungry mosquitoes.  From here members drove to Paul Drummond’s garden where the rare palms are nestled among the native growth.  Host Paul had provided a lavish buffet lunch, providentially under shelter when a tropical shower fell but did not dampen spirits.  From this garden it was only a short stroll to the lushly landscaped garden of Nat DeLeon where again many rare palms grow among native trees with bromeliad beds at their feet and orchids above.  A cool punch was most welcome for the day was hot and sticky.

Immediately after another short downpour, members gathered at the Buhler home at 6:30 p.m. where a delightful breeze from the bay helped keep everyone comfortable while eating a quickly served box supper.  The tables were set up by the members since the rain had made it questionable until the last moment whether eating outdoors would be possible.  Afterwards newly-elected President Dr. U.A. Young showed slides of a recent trip to South America and a movie made by his son of his large palm collection.  Dr. Moore was prevailed upon to show one more box of his slides.

Early Tuesday morning, June 25, a group of some 40 members left for a day’s trip to Nassau, at the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Langlois, to see the well-known palm collection at their home, “The Retreat”.  Others took a bus trip to Key West while others visited well-known Miami gardens and nurseries, among them The Kampong, former home of Dr. David Fairchild now owned by Mrs. Edward Sweeney and the garden of Mrs. Elsa Margraff, both Palm Society members.

That afternoon, after a four-hour delay, the 29 members who flew to Colombia finally took off and to all intents and purposes the 1974 Biennial Meeting had come to an end.  The many letters sent by those who attended would indicate that it was most successful, due in great part to the many new members, the compatibility of interest of those present and the cooperation and hard work of those who planned the meeting.

The saga of the Colombia trip will appear in a separate article.