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«PROGRAMME General Meetings are held at EITHER at the Municipal Horticultural Centre, Jolimont Rd, Vermont. Mel 62 G4 OR the National Rhododendron ...»

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Dr George Argent, RBGE Vireya Collection, Edinburgh [photos page 11]

Having spent a very pleasant week near Windermere in the Lakes District with our grandchildren and family, Marcia and I motored north to Edinburgh. We made a wrong turning near Keswick railway station and took an extra hour to find an on ramp to the M6.

There were signs saying the M6 was closed between junctions 42 and 43. At Carlisle. We needed to exit at junction 44 just north of Carlisle. We thought we had yet to come to junction 41 where we planned to take to „other‟ roads. Alas we missed this junction and came to a 2 hour halt! Of the kind for which motorways are famous. All because a lorry with soft drink bottles had clipped the median strip, rolled, and dumped its load on the opposite carriageway.

Some early motorists at the scene had punctures in all 4 wheels. We eventually got off at junction 44 and pulled into the first cafe for lunch- in pouring rain. We read all about the hold up in the local paper, photos and all. We still managed to visit Hermitage Castle in the border region and make it to our accommodation. We had picked the Festival weekend so we were 30 k south of Edinburgh. On the following day George Argent and Tony Conlon met us at RBGE and spent the morning with us. We had a very pleasant lunch together. George, having retired, is in the process of selling his house and moving to Warwickshire. He will still visit RBGE, but not daily. Tony Conlon is now the keeper of the very significant Vireya collection. As always seeing the world‟s best collection is inspiring. Our two previous visits were in May. August is not peak flowering time but there were very many flowers to photograph. RBGE has about 170 Vireya species compared with just over 100 in Australia.

So there are many we would like to acquire if opportunity offers. We saw R apoanum in flower. This species is elusive in Australia. Every time we grow one it proves to be an hybrid.

Others that have yet to make it to my collection in Olinda, and possibly to Aus include R rosendahlii, R longiflorum [again Australian plants supposed to be this species proved not to be so- R jasminiflorum var. heuseri instead] R stapfianum, and R durionifolium var.

sabahense. R acrophilum [photo page 11] so caught my eye that I have made it the subject of this issue‟s Vireya Species Column. R mendumiae was a first attempt to obtain a permit from AQIS to import its seed, rejected/deferred pending further information. Now it is permitted and a number of members have seedlings. No one, here, has flowered it. It was flowering at RBGE. Much nicer than I had been led to believe.

At lunch George gave me a copy of the Rhododendron Red list [rhododendrons endangered in their native habitat] of which he is a co-author. I promptly left it in the restaurant, but Tony kindly collected it and forwarded it on. There is to be a conference in Spring 2013 in Edinburgh and the organisers would welcome Australian participation.

Frederic Danet, Jardin Botanique, Lyon, France Frederic Danet is a director of Jardin Botanique, Lyon, France. In his holidays, at his own expense, he collects vireya seed from West New Guinea. Frederic has been doing this for about 10 years. In that time he has made many collections and discovered a number of new species. Two of these R kogo and R dutartrei are 2007 discoveries and thus are not included in Argent Rhododendrons of subgenus Vireya 2006, RHS. See Adonsonia series 3, 2007, 29(1). Frederic has made seed available widely to key collectors around the world since Lyon does not have soil or water congenial to Rhododendrons and so does not have an extensive collection. Early seed from Frederic came via Lyn Craven. R brassii is one of these. Recently it flowered for the first time in Australia. Andrew Rouse has been growing Frederic‟s seed and sharing seedlings with members as they get big enough. I have a number of these.

Andrew‟s results are set out in Newsletter July 2011, 3. Frederic is a co-author with Lyn Craven of several of the papers discussed in this issue p5. Lyn describes Frederic as a very canny [I think he means perceptive] botanist. So Marcia and I travelled to Lyon and spent a morning, and lunch, with Frederic. [photos page 12]. We enjoyed our tour of Jardin Botanique and the massive glasshouses immensely. Lyon had a special collection of Pitcher plants including Sarracenia and Nepenthes. And orchids. Over lunch we got to understand botanic garden collection policy issues and their recent evolution much better. The bottom line is that it is not enough that a candidate for accession has full provenance. The requirements of the source country have to be addressed. Lyon is a large city with two airports. Being in Vichy France, I think, it has not suffered extensive war damage and has many historic buildings. It has an extensive metro system as well as light rail and busses. It is on the Rhone river which starts in lake Geneva and has its mouth near Marseilles. It was on the route of Cadel Evans‟ Tour de France in 2011 and is not far from the Alps that that tour immortalised. We tried to persuade Frederic that he should climb the North Queensland peaks and re-collect Australia‟s rhododendrons. Frederic, for his part said that visiting in West New Guinea is open for all ages; all that is needed is to fly to Bali then catch a Geruda plane to West New Guinea with a tourist visa and hire a car and a couple of guides. He suggested we were not too old for the task. I thought of the Australian aviator‟s tribulations when he landed in West New Guinea without a visa. The key, clearly, is knowing the locals. Our tour to Lyon was necessarily short but we would like more time there. The weather was delightful and eating at an open air cafe near our quaint hotel on the two evenings we were there is a memory to be treasured.

Dr Hartwig Schepker, Vireya Collection, Botanika, Rhododendron Park, Bremen From Lyon Marcia and I flew back to Amsterdam and then, directly, to Bremen. At least that was the plan. The weather delayed our planes so that two one hour trips took all day. We arrived at Bremen at dinner time in bleak weather. Our Marriott, four stars at the same price as the three star in Lyon, was luxurious. The high Aussie dollar certainly encourages travel!

The next morning, with warm clothing and wet weather gear, we caught the light rail for the 20 minute journey to Rhododendron Park. The houses on either side were very upmarket and clearly pre war. But this was not the industrial part of Bremen. Bremen is a city State (or province) in common with Berlin and Hamburg. It is not a large city in population being Germany‟s 10th biggest. The State includes Bremerhaven 50 k away on the North Sea. Its industry includes Mercedes and Siemens. During the war it was submarines. They attracted bombers. In flocks. At the centre of Bremen miraculously the Cathedral, City Hall and Merchan‟s Guild escaped the bombs as did the Bahnhof next to the Marriott. Not much else did in the centre and industrial part.

We got to Rhododendron Park and Botanika at its centre just in time to go inside before the rain began. Botanika commenced construction in 2003. It must have cost heaps. We spent until near lunch time touring, first, the Vireya house and then the Asiatics. Most plants were „in ground‟ rather than pots and were organised by place of origin. All beautifully labelled and beautifully tended. How RBGE would like these resources! And, if it comes to that, NRG. We took lots of photos and progressed to the butterfly house. Then we went back to reception and asked for Martin with whom I had corresponded about the Bremen conference a year ago that Robert Hatcher attended. Martin was on leave but Hartwig Schepker kindly made time to talk to us. He took us to the propagation area that is not open to the public.

Really state of the art equipment, and ample space and staff. The results showed in the production of new plants, Vireyas and Asiatics. The reason that big leaf and other common Asiatics were in the Glasshouse and not the Park outside was the winter temperatures. -18 degrees C can occur. But the Vireyas in pots spent the summer in a shade house before being taken inside for winter. Bremen has more than 100 Vireya species and must rival RSF, White Smith (Bovees) and Pukeite for the next best collection after Edinburgh. Hartwig is a leader of the German Rhododendron Society and very expert. Some propagation hints may well work well on species we have trouble growing. Bremen‟s official accession requirements must comply with provenance and requisite permits in place of origin. But it also has an unofficial collection. We were very grateful for Hartwig‟s time. After a very late lunch we braved the weather outside in the park. Mike and Inge Hammer were here for a day last year in peak spring season. The park was still lovely in early autumn with colour just starting.

On Friday morning we took a city tour and, afterwards, visited the historic buildings in the centre of town. While we were in the Cathedral rain started in earnest and we were nearly soaked crossing the square under umbrellas for lunch. Then we took a train ride to Bremerhaven. Flat flat flat. And wet. We saw nothing in Bremerhaven pre war. We visited the climate house- a tour around the world on longitude 8 degrees starting in Bremerhaven and going south to Switzerland, Cameroon and Antarctica then north again via Samoa, Alaska and back to the beginning. Very realistic with real ice and heat. On Saturday back to Amsterdam.

Hortus Botanicus, Leiden, Netherlands Marcia and I had visited this famous place in 2002 with Jane Edmonson. A short train ride from Amsterdam one stop past the airport. Another city on canals. Very historic and, once away from the station, very picturesque. Hortus Botanicus was where Linnaeus developed the nomenclature rules by which flora and fauna are named. While we were in Scotland we visited Dawyck where Linnaeus provided some of the historic trees. The University, which includes Hortus Botanicus, dates from 1516. The oldest tree we found in the garden was a Liriodendron tulifera planted in 1715. There were many trees several centuries old. We did not visit the Herbarium but I note that one of the papers referred to at page 6 of this issue is published in Blumea, the publication of the University, and one of its authors hails from the Herbarium. There is a walk along which each of the major plant families is represented and a board shows its family tree. Rhododendron is a small twig on a minor branch being Ericacae!

We have many photos to record our visit.


NATIONAL RHODODENDRON GARDEN. Meet in the volunteer‟s lunch room to meet Neil Puddey, vireya specialist. Neil lives in Coff‟s Harbour on the coast north of Sydney where he has a vireya nursery. He has kindly agreed to come to Olinda to share his experiences and expertise with us. Neil supplies overseas markets in Singapore and China and sells locally on line. His beautiful garden is an excellent example of sub-tropical luxuriance with the focus on vireyas.

SUNDAY 11TH DECEMBER -12.00PM CHRISTMAS LUNCH AT LES CHESSELLES French Restaurant at Mont De Lancey Museum and Homestead. Les Chésselles is located at Mont De Lancey 71 Wellington Road, Wandin, Victoria. Melways 121 B2.

Les Chésselles was nominated as a finalist for the European Restaurant (Rural) category!

Experience the French connection in the Yarra Valley.

Hidden in the undulating hills of Wandin, Victoria, is one of the first homesteads, Mont De Lancey, settled by the Sebire family. Along with the Rougets and Gaudions, the Sebires were one of the original French settlers in the Yarra Valley.

In the magnificent gardens of the property history abounds with an original Slab Kitchen, Machinery Shed and Blacksmiths Workshop. The gardens, St Mary's Chapel and gazebo or under the 100 year old Peppercorn tree near the newly established Rose Garden also provide a beautiful setting for Weddings.

Now a new French connection has arrived at Mont De Lancey in the form of a unique French style café... 'Les Chésselles'.

Not only will you enjoy French food but also French wines and cheeses, as well of course alongside the best wines of the Yarra Valley. As part of the experience, Gourmet produce are also available.

Lunch will consist of a 2 course meal with tea/coffee. Wine may be bought by the glass.

Guests are free to wander around the garden and see the amazing collection of historical horticultural equipment but those who desire to visit the museum or homestead will need to pay the entrance fee of $7.50.

$15per person (subsidised by the ARSV). BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL Phone or email Marcia Begg by 1st December or book and pay at the November Meeting. (Details inside) Ph: 9751 1610, Email:mnbegg@gmail.com

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For the “Beechmont” Picasaweb site visit http://picasaweb.google.com/simonwbegg

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