Chapter Events

The public is welcome to attend all Chapter activities. All meetings are held on Sundays at 1:00 pm at The Gardens at Elm Bank, Putnam Building, 900 Washington St., Wellesley, MA.


9/25  12:00 pm  100-Year History of Weston Nurseries and Rhododendron Breeding Program presented by Wayne Mezzitt

11/13 12:00–3:00 pm, Founders’ Day Luncheon. Speaker:Les Lutz, Heritage Museums and Gardens. At Papa Razzi in Wellesley. Pre-registration required.

In this presentation, in addition to discussing the rhododendrons, Les will tell us about a recently completed research project that investigated the history of Charles Dexter and his work with rhododendrons.  He will also discuss their ongoing efforts to repatriate Dexter hybrids from other institutions and propagate them in a soon-to-be-built tissue culture lab.

Les is currently Director of Horticulture and Facilities at Heritage Museums and Gardens, formerly known as the Dexter Estates. Prior to his current position at Heritage, Les trained at Longwood Gardens, was curator of the Bonsai collection, managed the conservatory at New York Botanical Garden, was director of horticulture at Salisbury University, and acted as chief operations officer at Omaha Botanical Garden. At Heritage Les is responsible for all things horticulture on their 100 acres.  This includes garden design and improvement and of course the collection of Dexter rhododendrons.


1/22 1:00 pm Designing Shady Retreats. Speaker: Joan Butler

In this richly illustrated lecture, we explore a variety of intriguing gardens that will inspire you to create your own shady retreats! We show you design tricks and strategies to light up shady corners, highlight unusual plants that thrive in low-light conditions, and illustrate the creative use of art objects, seating and water features.

Joan Butler is a lecturer, retired horticulturist, and Master Gardener. She  has been an enthusiastic gardener for over 30 years,  and her gardens feature exciting plant combinations, dramatic horticultural specimens, and collections of hosta, heuchera and epimedium. She is a past Chairman of the Massachusetts Landscape Design Council, a member of the Garden Consultants Council, the New England Hosta Society, and an accredited Flower Show Judge.

3/05 1:00 pm Plant Exploration in Japan with Special Focus on Rhododendrons. Speaker: Peter Zale, Longwood Gardens

Many are familiar with the world famous horticulture displays at Longwood Gardens, but might not be aware the work happening behind the scenes to support these efforts. I will discuss recent activities related to plant exploration, plant collections curation and development, and plant conservation that support new and old initiatives at the gardens. The presentation will cover a wide array of different plant types that have been sourced from the vastly diverse range of plants developed and cultivated at Japanese nurseries, as well as key collections from the wild.  Regarding the latter, particular emphasis will be given to a collections focus on new collections of Rhododendron species from Japan that are being propagated and evaluated for garden use, germplasm conservation, and breeding. I will also touch base on some promising rhododendron collections from the U.S., China, and Vietnam. 

 Peter Zale, Ph.D holds a Master’s degree and Ph.D in plant breeding and genetics from The Ohio State University and is currently Associate Director, Conservation, Plant Breeding, and Collections, at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. In this position he leads curatorial activities, the plant breeding programs, the plant exploration program, and the plant conservation program. His main efforts at Longwood have centered around development of a comprehensive conservation horticulture program focused on native orchids of the U.S. and temperate terrestrial orchids from around the world. In his spare time, he has been building his own “private botanical garden” with extensive collections of native plants, hardy orchids, geophytes, woodland plants, trees, shrubs, and a variety of other plants that reflect personal interests and the idea that gardens serve as a tool for ex situ plant conservation.

4/16 12:00 pm  Rhododendrons at Sakonnet Gardens, John Gwynn, owner of Sakonnet Garden in Little Compton, RI

John Gwynn is a Landscape Architect involved with global conservation education and local meadow restoration. Sakonnet Garden is a hidden exotic garden embedded within a native coastal fields landscape, a long-term project of John Gwynne and Mikel Folcarelli. This ongoing experiment in design, scale, and plantings began as an acre-sized spring woodland garden and is subdivided into spaces separated by high windbreak hedges and stone walls that enable growing of many Zone 7 plants. Each space has its own mood and horticultural objective. These woodland areas are very different in summer-mostly shady and green, but with the “subtropical quadrant” at peak of exuberance. A new “pollinator plus” summer garden is a colorful walk-through perennial border conceived as a biodiversity maze.

4/29 P4M Sale, Plane View Nursery, 770 Wapping Rd., Portsmouth, RI
Each year, members of the Mass. Rhododendron Society propagate their best and favorite plants. These plants are sold to members and the public at this special sale. Most plants are small but very inexpensive, allowing you to try multiples for a very reasonable price.  Most are unique or unobtainable except via this sale, perfect for the collector and shade gardener.  Check or cash only.

10:00 am Sale to members and donors
11:00 am Sale to general public
12:00 pm Sale closes

5/20-21 Rhododendron Society Show and Sale, lectures, New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill

Board Meetings

All Board Meetings are held on Wednesdays at 6:00 pm via Zoom, and are for Board Members only.