A Foreword to the Article Rhododendron Breeding at Linswege
By B. Pecherer
The article that follows is a description of the rhododendron hybrids created by Dietrich Hobbie. After an exchange of several letters and an opportunity to examine at leisure the slides* which he left with me, I asked Mr. Hobbic to submit an article describing his work for publication in the Bulletin. To the best of my knowledge this information has not appeared elsewhere.
In my opinion Mr. Hobbie has done some very important work in creating new races of rhododendron hybrids and this knowledge should be disseminated not only for its own value, but also to stimulate further experimentation along the lines indicated. I have translated from the German as closely as possible in order to avoid changing the sense of the descriptions furnished by Mr. Hobbie. Other than to state that there are some very unusual and interesting plants described herein, I shall not interject my own opinions or evaluation at this time.
There are however several points to (which I would like to call attention. First, it will be noted that time after time Mr. Hobbie emphasizes the matter of hardiness. After years of breeding and selection lie still seeks hardy parents that will give rugged offspring. One would infer that his climate is probably more severe than previously described* and hardiness is a real problem for him. Secondly, he is interested in, the appearance of his plants even when not in bloom. From the illustrations it may be seen what he has accomplished in this direction. Thirdly, although only his descriptions call form the basis for a judgment, he has evidently obtained some unusual combinations of plant forms and flower colors. And finally it is clear that Mr. Hobbie does not consider his work complete, for he continues to breed new hybrids based on the selections of his earlier work.
Mr. Hobbie is making arrangements for the distribution of his plants in the United States, and they should be available in two or three years. With the publication of this article it is to be expected that breeders in the United States and elsewhere will repeat many of the crosses described here. So far as I am concerned, and I have no commercial interest in these plants, this is a perfectly legitimate endeavor for it may be that even finer forms of some of these hybrids will occur. However not all of the offspring will be distinguished and therefore I hasten to remind future prospective purchasers of plants bearing group names such as R. 'Elizabeth Hobbie', 'Gertrud Schale', 'Suoini', etc. that a great deal of selection and testing has been required to obtain the "elite clones" that Mr. Hobbie will eventually market. The unfortunate practice of giving a group name to all the seedlings of a given cross will doubtless be responsible for a great deal of disappointment and possibly unfair condemnation, hence I repeat the old dictum caveat emptor.
* This Bulletin, 11, 40 (1957), No. 1 of January 15.