Concerning R. orbiculare at Bodnant
By Charles Puddle
Bodnant Gardens, Tal-y-cafn
Denbighshire, North Wales
The articles concerning Rhododendron orbiculare in the January and April Bulletins of the American Rhododendron Society have been brought to my notice. In the interest of accuracy I feel I must reply to some of the comments made by Mr. Nearing in his article.
The photograph Fig. 10 on page 50 of the January Bulletin taken at Bodnant is of the true species orbiculare and is not a hybrid as Mr. Nearing suggests. It is in fact a layer taken from one of the original specimens raised from Wilson's seed. One of the original plants is now 20 ft. x 20 ft. and each year bears many hundreds of trusses in much the same way as the smaller layer that is illustrated. There is no question of the plant illustrated being a hybrid or ever having been labeled "Auklandii" X orbiculare as Mr. Nearing suggests. I can only surmise that Mr. Nearing has a photograph of some other rhododendron, for Mr. Cook's illustration is orbiculare.
I do not know where the photograph of the single truss of R. orbiculare on page 49 was taken, and I will not comment upon this except to say that it is not of the Bodnant plant. I think it has long been realized that there is a considerable variation within the species of rhododendrons and to base criticism of a photograph on the length of the rhachis, size of the leaves or the tapering of the corolla is just asking for trouble.
In view of Mr. Nearing's other remarks he might be interested to know that Rhododendron orbiculare was reintroduced into Britain by collectors working for the late Lord Aberconway in 1938 and he will find this listed in the Rhododendron Handbook 1952 McLaren No. 25. This introduction has larger leaves and a deeper colored flower than Wilson's original sending.