The idea of a Society to bring together dendrologists from all over the world arose from a discussion in Belgium in May 1952 between Mr Robert and Mr Georges de Belder and Dr and Mrs Gerd Krussmann and Mr Jacques Lombarts
By the time the first General Meeting was held in September 1952, there were 50 members from five different countries. There are now 1500 from 50 countries.
The original name of the Society was the International Dendrology Union, but this was changed to the International Dendrology Society in 1965. The Tours Committee was set up early on, followed by a Scientific and Education Committee. The latter is aimed at supporting dendrological activites by a variety of means, such as organising symposia, arranging a seed exchange scheme, granting bursaries to promising students from developing countries and awarding plaques to deserving arboreta. In 1994 the Society formed the Dendrology Charitable Company to take over its charitable work.
Symposia have been held as follows:
- 1985: Pines and Dwarf conifers
- 1988: Quercus
- 1989: Acer
- 1992: Betula
- 1994: Temperate trees under threat
- 1996: Magnolia
- 1999: Conifers
- 2002: Araucariaceae
Bursaries: Bursaries have been awarded since 1992 to students from Slovakia, Slovenia, Russia, Romania, Poland, Rodrigues Island (Mauritius Republic), China, Mexico, Czech Republic, Chile, and Lithuania, and students from Papua New Guinea, Madagascar, Russia, the UK, the USA, Belgium and Jordan have been sponsored to attend courses.
Plaques: Another activity is the awarding of our Conservation Plaque. It is to assist arboreta that are in difficulties, either financial or threatened in other ways such as building development. The Society first makes sure that the quality of trees is good and the management capable and willing to continue its work.
Plaques have been awarded since 1978 to:
- Eastwoodhill, New Zealand
- Kadoorie Gardens, Hong Kong
- Queenswood, England
- Burrendong, Australia
- Trompenburg, The Netherlands
- Kalmthout, Belgium
- Arboretum National Les Barres, France
- Waite Arboretum, Australia
- Von Gimborn Arboretum, The Netherlands
- Spath Arboretum, Germany
- Arboretum de Balaine, France
- Chollipo Arboretum, Korea
- Crarae Gardens, Scotland
- Hackfalls Arboretum, New Zealand
- Cefn Onn Park, Wales
- Karaca Arboretum, Turkey
- Arboretum National du Vallon de l'Aubonne, Switzerland
- Gwavas Garden, New Zealand
- Trelinnoe Gardens, New Zealand
- Pinetum Blijdenstein, Netherlands
Yearbook: The first publication was Dendron vol.1. no.1. in July 1954. However its publication used up all the funds so it was followed by Newsletters until 1964. In 1966 the first Yearbook was published just as the name was changed from 'Union' to 'Society'. The Yearbook has continued ever since, reporting on tours and matters of scientific interest. Most of the material from 2002 onwards is now available on the IDS website.
2009 saw an exciting new venture, the publication, in conjunction with Kew Publishing, of New Trees: Recent Introductions to Cultivation by John Grimshaw and Ross Bayton.