Contributed by Proprietor Steven Lyus.
The Rhododendron Society was formed by four founder members: Charles Eley, John Guille Millais (a descendant of Sir John Everett) and JC and PD Williams, who met at Lanarth in Cornwall and declared ‘We are the Rhododendron Society’. In those early days, select members were invited to join, and were expected to write articles for its regular publication The Rhododendron Society Notes. The Society held its first Annual General Meeting at the Chelsea Flower Show in May 1916.
In the 104 years since that first meeting, the Group has evolved: it now has 700+ members worldwide and has extended its scope of interest, now being known as The Rhododendron, Camellia and Magnolia Group. It is a Partner Group of the Royal Horticultural Society and achieved charitable status in 2015 with its aim to educate the public about these choice garden plants, to help to conserve them for the future and to support professional gardeners and taxonomists by means of travel sponsorship to further knowledge of the three genera. Prince Charles is our current patron.
The Education of the general public is achieved through the content on our website, on which I have been the sub-webmaster for the last 20 years. I thought Athenaeum members might be frustrated by not being able to visit the wonderful gardens around here, especially in this Spring. Please have a browse over this website. The current Photo competition is live and showing what our members have in their gardens at the moment, some of them are from my own garden.