Presidents Newsletters

May Newsletter 2024

It’s mid-May, Fiona and I have had a little evening walk round our garden, enjoy what we have planted over the last thirteen years here in Doune, Central Scotland. When we first started this garden, we planted a lot of plants from our Gargunnock where I was working at the time.

We both realise it’s that time when some plants have outgrown their allotted space, others need cut back and some are coming out as they are not performing. Perhaps your garden is like ours and maybe there is a bit of a story to tell, and you want to share it, send a few pages to John Roy our Publications editor. That would make John very happy.

After our AGM at Garelochhead, the hall was readied and set up for the first of our exhibitors to set out their trusses and sprays in the vases, add a little moss to set out the perfect display ready to set out on the show benches.

Preparing for the show. F. Campbell

As always, we had a good turnout of exhibitors, and soon the show benches were full, little disappointing that in the novice section there were few exhibits. The show was a week earlier this year, so species exhibits were up, except for the triflora sprays, hybrid entries were about the same with deciduous azaleas just a few.

Fast forward to Saturday morning, show benches all neat and tidy for the judging, David Chamberlain, Richard Baines and Maurice Wilkins would decide the first, second and third places. On queue the hall doors were opened at 12.00 to let in mostly members at that time.

When the prize winners were read out, clearly it was not the usual winners, Paul Haynes from Morar won best Truss in the Show, plus two other cups, Philip Rankin won three cups and Glenarn won 3 cups.

As always at the start of the show David Chamberlain who has judged our shows for some 40 years gives an introductory opening speech, this year he was surprised and delighted to receive the ARS “Pioneer Achievement Award” for his outstanding contribution to rhododendron taxonomy. Richard Baines from Logan BG presented the Scroll to David.

We also had an outstanding day with plant sales, book sales and some 75 visitors paid the £2.00 to view the show.

Big thanks to all the show team, the exhibitors, those who contributed plants and books.

A week later 12 off us started our Spring tour in the Oban area, all the gardens we visited were full of flowering plants and with so much interest.

On the Wednesday we visited Kilchoan gardens a few miles west of Kilmelford, to where Luke Senior is head gardener. The garden was full of interesting plants, statues, church and lots of garden features, its defiantly one to come back to in a few years’ time.

Then on to the Kintyre part of our Trip, first to a garden we visited around 15 years ago, Stronchullin. Mary Broadfoot the garden owner had kindly put her car down on her drive with large SRS sign on it so we could not miss the drive up to the house. Buy this time the party had increased to 20 as Mary set off around a garden of giant flowering rhododendrons.

The Thursday morning was sunny and calm for the crossing to Gigha, Fiona and I visited Achamore gardens a few years back and were keen to see how it was fairing under Bryony White the head Gardener, we were astonished at the difference the garden team had made in these few years, making the whole Gigha experience as one destination your “bucket list”.

Friday morning, leaving Stonefield Castle in bright sunshine we headed off to Baravalla, the garden managed by the RSCG. Matt Heasman had been up bright and early, setting up the generator and urn. Matt led the party round the gardens, pointing out plants of special interest that the “Two Peters” had planted. After a break for refreshments, its was down to the lower woods, almost at the sea where the big leaved falconera and grandia sub section plants are found. Baravalla is one of the key gardens in Scotland, if you ever feel you can help out, please contact Matt Heasman.

Matt Heasman leads a guided tour round Baravalla. F. Campbell.

So that is a short summary of this year’s tour, more in the Autumn Journal. These tours are great for forming friendships, like minded gardeners who just enjoy looking at plants, you don’t need to be an expert.

Now just a bit about the AGM, I was in the chair and it was attended by about 25 members with some on “Zoom”. In my President’s remarks as always I pleaded with our membership to come forward and help us on committee, many have been on committee for 20 years and longer.

Last year attracted three new committee members, Annette Treble who now has agreed to become minutes Secretary, with Katina Clow still keeping her role as Secretary on the Show Committee.

Grant Moir, Head Gardener at Westerhall-on-Esk, was tasked with bringing our website fit for this modern world with social media included, Grant has already revamped the site with lots of new features and ideas. Our Facebook page is visited daily by hundreds of like-minded rhododendron enthusiasts. Not everyone’s “cup of tea” but this is a sure-fire way of promoting rhododendrons on this exceptional year of flowering.


As Always, we your committee want feed back on what we are doing, have you any suggestions, thoughts, articles for John Roy, want to help, please contact myself at

Willie Campbell SRS President, May 2024

Spring Report Mar 2024

Spring Activity Report March 2024

All over the UK rhododendrons are well budded up for a spectacular show this year, already the Social Media sites are posting pictures of our favourite plants.

Our seed exchange has been well used again this year with over 60 requests and after taking off expenses, we should be adding another £750.00 to our Education and Exploration Fund.

Talking about our E&E fund, the second recipient Colin Jones has been awarded a sum of £1000.00, Colin is Joining a Botanical trip to Yunnan, which is being organised by Seamus O’Brien.

We are holding our Joint Conference with the RSCG in the conference room at the RBGE, which is a venue we have used on many occasions.

“Modern Day Botanical Travels” on Saturday 5th October. We will have talks from Richard Moore on his trip to NE Nepal, John Roy, Jeanie Jones (Primulas) Grant Moir and hopefully Colin Jones about his trip to Yunnan.

We would be arranging garden visits on the Sunday, along with our usual plant auction. (more details later)

However, we still have our AGM and Spring Show at the Gibson Hall at Garelochead on 26/27th April to look forward to, with Plant and Book sales. Teas and Cakes on offer as well. (again, more information from the show committee later)

The updated show schedule can be download from our website.

As we are talking about our website Grant Moir has been busy modernising how we go about attracting members of the public to visit the website at

Please check it out for yourselves, also with links to plant databases.

As members you can visit our members area

Lots of interesting articles, notice board and details on cultivation of rhododendrons.

Other Social media news is that our Facebook page is being visited daily by many and Grant Moir is setting up an Instagram page hoping to reach the younger generation of the public who may eventually become interested in our favourite plants.

As always, your committee is here to help answer questions or queries you may have on plants, gardens to visit, also if you our members may have some suggestions you may like to see the Society becoming involved in, please contact anyone on committee..

With Gardens to visit, our spring tour itinerary is complete, wonderful gardens in the Oban area, with Baravalla and Achamore on Gigha at the end of the week. Hotels at booked in Oban and Stonefield Castle our old favourite down at Tarbert.

We have had someone drop out of the tour, so we have a single room already booked, so if you’re interested in coming along, please contact myself by email. (contact details in members area)

You may like to join the tour just for the day, again contact myself for details.

All for now, snowdrops at my old garden at Gargunnock have been outstanding as have the early rhododendrons, like praecox, Christmas Cheer and sutchuenense blooming away just fine.

Willie Campbell

Newsletter Feb 2024

I do hope you all have had a good festive season and find that the weather in your part of the world has been kind to you and the garden is all budded up for a spectacular flowering season. I look at my own garden in Doune in Central Scotland, with snowdrops, aconites, early daffodils, crocus and primroses already giving Fiona and I some early season pleasure.

Although the Seed Exchange is now closed, still have plenty seed left and if you would like to get a £10.00 or £5.00 surprise package of rhododendron, trees and shrubs along with companion plant seed. Just Email me.

Again, we as a Society must thank all the seed donors, without them no seed exchange. This year so far, we have had over 50 requests and should add around £750.00 to the Education and Exploration Fund.

Other good news is that we have a nomination for the SRS secretary, if anyone else would like to be nominated at our AGM on the 26th April, 2.00 at the Gibson Hall at Garelochead, contact Katrina our current Secretary.

However, we still are looking for new committee members.

1) Someone to help with editorial work on our publications to take over eventually from John Roy. Perhaps taking on editing the Spring and Autumn journals to start with.

2) Someone to come on as Treasurer, again not this very instant but to shadow Colin Whitehead who has been in the job for some 12 plus years.

3) Someone to take on the Tours and Conferences, I have taken over this task, but hope someone will take over completely.

4) General committee, just come on help out with what ever tasks are needing attention, shadow members many of have been on much longer than the three years as per constitution.

As always, we only meet “Face to Face” twice a year, you can now work remote and join meetings on “Zoom” so no excuses, that distance is an object.

Our Spring Tour to Argyll Gardens this year is all booked, Hotel wise but you can still join on a daily basis, please contact myself for details.

Just a reminder, subscriptions were due at the beginning of the year, if you have not rejoined yet, please do so NOW.

I would also like you to join with me and all my committee in wishing one of our Society founder members Peter Cox a very Happy 90 Birthday.

Kenneth has asked if you want to send Birthday Greetings to Peter, just send to cards to

Kenneth who will read your personal messages out to Peter on the 28th of February 2024.

As always, we want you to be involved in the Scottish Rhododendron Society, you can tell John Roy about your Garden, ask Matt Heasman to identify a plant you have, ask advice on plant propagation or John Hammond on the History of our gardens.

Hope to see you all at the Show 17th April at Garelochhead. More details later.


Willie Campbell

email contact in members area

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *