Azaleas at Winterthur
by Henry F. DuPont
Fig. 3. R. mucronulatum album in the Pinetum
In 1917, two or three years after the San Francisco World's Fair, I visited the Cottage Garden Nurseries of Mr. Brown in Long Island to see the collection of Kurume azaleas he had gotten at the Fair. None were in bloom, but his many greenhouses were full of azalea cuttings or young stock. I noticed here and there some azalea plants in 6-inch or 7-inch pots, and on inquiring about them I was told the florists did not think these varieties would be suitable for forcing. I told Mr. Brown I would take these seventeen plants, and practically all the Kurumes I have naturalized in our woods are cuttings from them.
The Chestnut blight had left many open areas, and before I knew it, Robertson, our Scottish gardener, had numerous young Kurume plants with no place to go except the woods, where they have been ever since. For over forty years they have grown and prospered. Every plant was planted in a hole 30 inches deep, 40 to 48 inches wide, with 8 inches of stone at the bottom, and a mixture of loam, leaf mold and peat. They are sprayed regularly and are watered after three weeks without rainfall. Little by little I have found many new hybrids which are not Kurume and have selected eight to twelve varieties which bloom one week apart. These groups are planted quite separately from the forty-year-old Kurumes in their original locations in the woods. They are in groups before entering the Pinetum, beside the Pinetum paths, and beyond with the June shrubs and the native azaleas.
The longer I grow azaleas, the more I realize how beautiful they are when grouped in harmonious colors and pleasing contrast. They naturalize in every imaginable terrain and contour (no other species are in bloom in Delaware for almost four months) and due to their various height and habit of growth they are never monotonous, and are perfect with countless varieties of bulbs and wild bloom.
They are also in good scale for small house plantings, but the average color schemes normally used are so terrific that one does not realize how beautiful they might be.
In milder climates the rhododendron hybrids are superb and full of interest, but alas, at Winterthur the varieties that will grow here have come and gone during three or four weeks.
Early in April mucronulatum azaleas in shades of mauve or purple are quite lovely on each side of a grass path and going back as well in the woodland, having three varieties of primrose-flowered Corylopsis bushes behind them. There is also with them an occasional shrub of Prinsepia sinensis with tiny primrose flowers and striking in full green leaf. Corydalis densifiora, a mauve ground cover perennial, carries out the color scheme, as well as several groups of purple and mauve Lenten Hellebores and dog-toothed violets and Bergenias.
The path ends at the lawn, where among a few conifers and small trees of Prunus subhertilla and 'Accolade' are large shrubs of pale pink Viburnum fragrans and many 'Cornell Pink' R. mucronulatum.
As the Corylopsis, R. mucronulatum, and Viburnum fragrans are fading, Gable's 'Conewago' and other mucronulatum x carolinianum hybrids, big robust plants in shades of mauve and purple, come into bloom on each side of the steps with the iron lilies and also may be found at the beginning of the "once a week" path with the R. reticulatum, Henry Skinner's selection slightly darker in color, which are also at the big sycamore. Then come the schlippenbachii, with the loveliest big pink flowers and in paler shades as well, that if selected will provide two weeks of successive continuous bloom. I plant near them both the 'Miss Susie' (Dr. Wheeldon) as it has the same big flowers and almost the same shade, and some Azalea 'Cattleya' (Kurume), as they flower as the schlippenbachii are fading. 'Conewago' which is in this color range, comes into bloom just before schlippenbachii.
The schlippenbachii are both sides of the lawn going to the first tee and also in the Pinetum as far as the Cedrus atlantica glauca circle.
On the left of the Cedrus atlantica glauca circle above the wall is a group of soft mauve 'Fujimanyo' with a few primrose-yellow japonicum, and at the right of the steps, one or two more 'Fujimanyo', and beyond them on the slope, the large flowered 'Lilacina', a mucronatum clone, with a couple of 'Miss Christine' (Wheeldon). Leaving the Cedrus atlantica glauca circle, on the left are three 'Colorado' (Merritt), salmon rose: nine 'Mayflower' (Glenn Dale), soft salmon; and farther to the left above the circle a group of Exbury for later blooms; to the right of the path leaving the Cedrus atlantica glauca circle are some 'Cecile' (Exbury), cream and pink. The path crosses at right angles the glade with the Chaenomeles which bloom the last two weeks of April, and continues on to the white gate, passing on the left hand side Azalea 'Coral Cluster' (Merritt), salmon; 'Flower Queen' (Merritt), mass of salmon flowers tight together; 'Favorite', 'Ambrosia', 'Fashion', three salmon Glenn Dales; 'Pirate' (Glenn Dale), red salmon; and on the right, a large bed of Ghents and japonicum with a few Azalea 'Miss Louisa Hunnewell' and R. flavum (R. chrysanthum) under planted with blue Scilla campanulata.
At the left of the Ghents there are steps and a sloping lawn edged with big specimen mucronatum album (formerly ledifolia alba), and for later bloom, on the left, some Ghents; and at the bottom of the slope, the main lilac groups and specimens. Returning to our path, it goes to the white gate taken from the one-hundred-year-old estate of Miss Mary Latimore.
Opposite the gate at the edge of two Paulownias and clustering at the base, and among the huge Buddleia alternifolia, are some Azalea 'Millicent' (Merritt), salmon rose: 'Treasure', white: and 'Homebush', flesh pink.
My "once a week" path is on the slope of the Pinetum below the Cedrus atlantica glauca circle and above my forty-five-year-old Malus sargenti, at the west end of which there is a large group of 'Henriette' (malvatica x kaempferi) which is a beautiful rose and really begins the lower side of my "once a week" path. which follows on with three each of the following: R. reticulatum; 'Mayflower' (Glenn Dale), salmon; 'Coral Cluster' (Merritt), 'Gaiety', pink salmon; 'Glacier', white; and 'Sagittarius', pink - these last three being Glenn Dale.
The east end of the "once a week" path on the upper side starts with Gable's mucronulatum x carolinianum and vaseyi with an underplanting of Triteleia uniflora which bloom at the same time, and follows on with two or three plants of the following: 'Miss Lucy' (Wheeldon), deep pink; 'Flower Queen' (Merritt), red salmon; 'Ambrosia' (Glenn Dale), apricot pink: 'Wheeldon #711' (a sport of 'Mme. Pericat'), rose; and 'Tama-Sugata' (Chugai), rose with white throat.
At the end of the Chaenomeles garden and across the lawn from the Sundial garden, with its eight huge Chaenomeles, is a big planting of 'J. T. Lovett' (Indica) bordering the edge of the woods; in these woods and as far down the hill as the swimming pool are large plantings of some sixty-year-old Kaempferi hybrid azaleas in shades of pink. My father got these plants from Professor Charles Sargent and Mr. Hunnewell, of Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Fig. 4. View of Museum from Oak Hill, with dogwood in bloom
On the far side of the woods is a big group of Azalea 'Firefly', lacquer red, with sage-green leaves, 'Yayegiri', and R. magnificum 'Winterthur.'
Late-May-June-blooming Glenn Dales are further down the hill and include 'Buccaneer', 'Beacon', 'Kathleen', 'Scout', and 'Souvenir', in shades of red; 'Freedom' and 'Stunner' pink: 'Treasure' and 'Glacier', white; with more mauve Azalea magnificum in full sun.
Near the woods, east from the Sundial garden and the lilacs and across the road, is a splendid old sycamore with many- June-blooming shrubs and grass paths. One of these goes downhill past the Primula quarry and by a planting of June-blooming Chugai (Satsuki) azaleas in great variety. Below the quarry bridge are many yellow and some red calendulaceum azalea.
The quarry bridge path brings you to Oak Hill, where a bed of native American azaleas are planted. These include R. canadense albiflorum, very early white; R. canescens, R. nudiflorum, and R. roseum, early pinks; R. atlanticum, dwarf midseason white; R. arborescens x atlanticum, late blush pink; R. arborescens x bakeri, late, shades of pink.
Azaleas, both here and in England, are all too often planted in mixed groups with no regard for color. It is hoped that Winterthur will show all who visit here what lovely and invaluable plants azaleas are, when planted according to a well-planned color scheme.