From the President's Desk Spring 2012

by Ethan Johnson, ACS National President.

Conifers are becoming more popular in our landscapes. Similar to the rule in their native habitats, conifers seem to compete very well with flowering plants when resources are scarce, or conditions are a bit rough. Conifers are not needy prima donnas. They consistently perform admirably with less maintenance than most flowering plants, and the gardening public is taking notice.

I am happy to report that Collectors Conifer of the Year sales were particularly strong this year. John Martin reports: Sciadopitys verticillata Picola' (119); Picea abies Wichtel' (65); Cedrus libani var. brevifolia Kenwith' (51) as of the February 1st deadline. Congratulations to Dennis Lee for another successful year administering the program! Thank you to all who ordered plants and benefited the ACS.

Another bit of good news is that ACS membership held steady last year, putting a stop to the declines precipitated by the recession. In January and February of 2012, 41 new members joined the ACS, compared to 31 who joined during the same months of 2011.

My advice is to register early for the excellent programs the ACS is making available to its members this year. The International Trip to The Netherlands and Belgium, organized by Tom Cox, is a bargain. Judging from the rave reviews the 2010 Trip to Great Britain received, the 2012 tour will be a fantastic experience. So, be sure to sign up early since space is limited to 42 participants.

The First Conifer College will take place in Ann Arbor, Michigan this July 12th. It will be on a first come, first served basis. There will be a variety of classes to attend, and, if you sign up early, you will not run the risk of choosing one which already has every seat filled. Experienced ACS National Meeting attendees know to book their hotel rooms well in advance of filling out their registration forms. The Ann Arbor meeting this July 12-14 is going to be a marvelous one, and, dare I say, a record-setting meeting with regard to attendance.

The ACS has many talented individuals. Dennis Groh of Michigan is deserving of special recognition, not only for his role in organizing the Conifer College and the upcoming National Meeting, but for other contributions which have benefited the Society. A couple of years ago I asked Dennis on behalf of the ACS Board of Directors to make an investment plan for our endowment. Last fiscal year, even though we ran an operational deficit, the ACS ended up with slightly more money because of the income generated by our investments.

At the Winter Meeting, the Board enacted some cost cutting measures. However, it looks like a dues increase will be inevitable. The last dues increase occurred 10 years ago. Other business included making the ACS Reference Garden Program a National one instead of a Regional one. The reasons for this are to adopt the best practices throughout the Regions; comply with IRS reporting requirements; and have a single person who provides oversight of the program as carried out by their fellow ACS Regional Reference Garden Coordinators. This individual will also keep an archive and report to the Board of Directors.

Serving the ACS has been and continues to be a very rewarding experience. I highly recommend volunteering to serve in whatever capacity suits you. If you cannot volunteer, please consider attending an event such as an ACS Rendezvous. Introduce your gardening friends to the joys of conifers.