Remembering Harry Dewey


We need a good picture of Harry: do you have one we can use?




I met Harry Dewey long before I became a member of the Potomac Valley Chapter of NARGS. Long ago we both belonged to the local cactus club, the National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society ( I think Jo Banfield did, too) which to this day still meets at St. Anslem's Abbey School.

I never knew him well, and he probably did not know who I am, but nevertheless he had a significant influence on me in several ways. For one, back at one of those cactus meetings I pronounced a botanical name using the textbook Latin system. He took me aside and explained that for every name in formal botanical nomenclature there is a mirror image name  spelled the same way but pronounced in the vernacular. And he gave well established examples such as rhododendron, iris, narcissus and such.

For another, people were frequently telling me that I should join the Potomac Valley Chapter of NARGS because ďthatís where all the best gardeners areĒ or something to that effect.  Iím not really a joiner, and remarks like the one quoted donít usually move me. But then someone showed me a copy of the old Patowmack Papers, the chapter newsletter as edited by Harry Dewey. A quick read convinced me that this was a group I wanted to belong to; these were people I wanted to get to know. So although he probably never knew it, Harry was responsible for getting me to join PVCNARGS.

At one of the plant exchanges of the cactus club all those decades ago, I picked up an interesting little euphorbia, Euphorbia decaryi. I still have that plant. Harry had donated it to the exchange, and over the years, whenever I look at that plant, Iíve remembered Harry.

Jim McKenney