Steve Henning

2009 ARS Silver
ARS Director Karel Bernady (left) and ARS President Don Smart (right) present Steve Henning the Society's Silver Medal Award.

The creator and webmaster of Henning's Rhododendron & Azalea Pages is Steve Henning. A member in the American Rhododendron Society since 1972, Steve is the District 8 Director, and serves as manager of ARSStore.org which he created.

Steve’s interest in rhododendrons began as a boy in Portland, Oregon. While majoring in Physics and Mathematics at Oregon State University, Steve also studied Botany.

After graduating from Oregon State University in 1962, Steve moved to Berks County, Pennsylvania, to work as a physicist for AT&T Bell Labs at the Western Electric plant. Steve and his wife Darlene bought their present home in 1965 and, thus, began their interest in gardening. When landscaping around their 1820 Pennsylvania stone farmhouse, they discovered that many plants they had grown up with were not readily available in local garden centers. In particular, the selection of rhododendrons was very limited. In search of greater variety, they went to the 1972 Philadelphia Flower Show in search of the American Rhododendron Society. They were in luck and found an exhibit by the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the ARS who informed them about the Valley Forge Chapter.

Steve has also taken many courses at Longwood Gardens and from the Pennsylvania Extension Service. When the internet started, there were groups dedicated to various topics where people asked and answered questions about various things in that topic. Steve participated in groups on rhododendrons and azaleas. He saw many of the same questions asked repeatedly. He started Henning's Rhododendron & Azalea Pages in 1996, trying to provide in one place, a reference to the many things he learned about the Genus Rhododendron. These are things that many rhododendron experts take for granted, but that new members of the ARS and new "rhodoholics" have to learn over time. He continued to participate in internet groups and added new answers to his website, while copying answers from his website to answer questions when possible.

Since joining the Valley Forge Chapter in 1972, Steve and Darlene have been active members. Since 1974, Steve has attended just about every national ARS convention. In 1976 and 2004, the ARS chapters of the Philadelphia area hosted the national ARS convention at Valley Forge. In 2009, Steve created a website to support the 2009 ARS Fall Regional Meeting which included a database, created by Mike O'Hara of the Princeton Chapter, of all of the plants available at the meeting's plant sale, Plant Catalogue for 2009 ARS Fall Conference. This list encompassed just about every hybrid rhododendron that had ties to Pennsylvania, including many hybridized in Pennsylvania. Steve served as the Valley Forge chapter president from 2009 to 2012. Since 2012, Steve has served as District 8 Director for the ARS.

On November 9, 2010, the National Arboretum announced it would "be deaccessioning our National Boxwood Collection and the co-located Perennial Collections as well as the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection." Steve discussed this with Azalea expert and long-time National Arboretum supporter Don Hyatt. Don recognized that the Glenn Dale azalea collection at the National Arboretum represented "the best repository of such genetic diversity in evergreen azaleas anywhere in the world." In order to prevent the National Arboretum from spending tax payer's money to destroy the world's best evergreen azalea collection, Don and Steve decided that Don would lead a personal education campaign on various media and in talks at garden clubs, while Steve created the website SaveTheAzaleas.org that published all correspondence between the parties involved and archived copies of all newspaper, magazine, TV, and radio articles on the campaign. The campaign went viral.

On June 16, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill in which it "directs the National Arboretum to maintain its National Boxwood Collection and the Glenn Dale Hillside portion of the Azalea Collection" and furthermore "encourages the National Arboretum to work collaboratively with supporters of the National Arboretum to raise additional funds to ensure the long-term viability of these and other important collections."

On April 25, 2012, the National Arboretum announced a reversal in its plants and declared the Glenn Dale Azaleas a heritage collection which should be preserved. FONA, Friends of the National Arboretum, raised over 1 million dollars to insure continuing care of the azalea, boxwood and perennial collections.

In 2012, the author received the ARS Silver Medal, in part, for the various rhododendron related websites he created.

In 2013, the ARS Board of Directors was looking for funds to make up for lagging income and increasing expenses. Steve volunteered to create ARSStore.org. This store is alive and well and is bringing in a modest income to the ARS through referral fees on online purchases. Anyone reading this website is encourage to go through ARSStore.org before making any online purchase to support the ARS.

Steve's other activities include Scouting, gardening, traveling, photography and being a Rotarian. Steve was a physicist at AT&T Bell Laboratories for 27 years. After this he served the Boy Scouts of America as a member of the Hawk Mountain Council professional staff. He and his wife, Darlene, enjoy traveling, and have visited all 50 states and more than 85 countries as they pursue their interests in rhododendrons, gardening, Scouting, Rotary, and photography.

Steve is webmaster for Henning's Rhododendron & Azalea Pages, Plant Catalogue for 2009 ARS Fall Conference, SaveTheAzaleas.org, and ARSStore.org. Steve is also webmaster for the following sites: Scouters' Pages, International Fellowship of Scouting Rotarians, Kutztown Rotary Club, Mac@Lehigh Valley Macintosh User Group, and Taste of Kutztown Street Festival. He also wrote a book for the Boys Scouts of America, On My Honor, The Hawk Mountain Council Story ... 1908 - 2010, the story of how Scouting was founded in 1907 and came to Pennsylvania in 1908 where it has prospered for over 100 years.


Directory of Contents for Henning's Rhododendron & Azalea Pages

cover
RHODY
RHODY
All Gardening Sites
ARS Medal
•• Providing Information about the Genus Rhododendron since 1996 ••

Visit Henning's Home Page

Valley Forge Chapter ARS History Project

Plant Catalogue for 2009 ARS Fall Conference


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