‘Tickled Pink’ — Bones’ wins American Rhododendron Society’s Silver Award

Mike Bones is the unofficial “Rhody King” of Florence, famous for his prized rhododendrons. He himself is an award winner after a distinction from the American Rhododendron Society. (Photo by Mark Brennan/Siuslaw News)

May 28, 2022 — The Siuslaw Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society (ARS) has announced that the group’s former Chapter President and current member Mike Bones has been awarded the ARS Silver Award.

The American Rhododendron Society’s Silver Award is given in recognition of outstanding regional contributions made in the dissemination and development of information related to rhododendrons. It is only awarded under special circumstances, and Bones is the only American recipient of the award in the last five years

“I was touched, totally speechless. It is such an honor and it is not given out every year,” Bones said. “The last two Silver Awards went to Canada and Denmark. So, it is just amazing that I was nominated, and I am just tickled pink to receive this honor.”

The ARS award is given to a deserving individual, after a selection process which includes recommendations from other society members and the public at large.

“I want to especially thank the folks that nominated me and sent in letters of recommendation. It was really a great surprise and I am really lucky to live in such a friendly community,” Bones said.

He was nominated by Chapter President Day Farrald and Cheryl Prchal, who believe Bones is responsible for not only increasing the knowledge available regarding rhododendrons but also for building a local culture that embraces the plant and elevates Florence to a position of leadership in the field.

“Mike is the heart and soul of not only our chapter, but throughout the ARS,” Farrald said. “Mike has been an advocate for rhododendrons his whole life. There are few rhododendron people along the West Coast that do not know Mike personally, as he has shared his knowledge everywhere he goes.”

Bones makes presentations for other ARS chapters, as well as local community groups and conferences.

“He has also traveled extensively throughout the world learning more about how and what kind of rhododendrons grow under what conditions,” Farrald said.

Bones’ tenure at the Siuslaw Chapter goes back more than four decades, during which time he has bred a number of unique and important members of the species.

He has established his expertise by not only growing the ubiquitous shrub, but by his willingness to share his knowledge without hesitation, having lectured in Europe and in other states for many years.

“The Siuslaw Chapter has existed and thrived for 52 years because of his vitality,” Farrald said. “We have over 85 members in our chapter … and we live in a town of about 9,000 people. Mike also makes sure that non-members are invited to participate in each of our two very successful flower shows each year.”

For more information on local rhododendrons, contact the Siuslaw Chapter of the ARS at 541-590-3161 or at [email protected].