Notes from a Recent German Rhododendron Society Publication
Translation by Reid M. Denis
A group of 57 members of the German Rhododendron Society enjoyed an eighteen-day study trip of Ireland, North Wales and the Peak District of Middle England in the summer of '63. The members were all thrilled with the openhearted warmth of the welcome which they received and overwhelmed with the richness of the plant material available for study. These visitors, from a climate roughly comparable to that of Boston, or even further inland in New England, were astonished at the size and magnificence of some of the older gardens they visited during their trip. They, also, of course, were envious of the possibility of growing so many varieties of plants which could not withstand the rigors of the Central European climate. The trip included visits to most of the well known gardens in this area and was regarded by all as a very worthwhile experience.
One of the most impressive sights of the visit was the Valley filled with rhododendrons lying within the confines of Howth. The Germans had clearly never seen such a display and were impressed by the fact that the rhododendrons were displayed, not under, but adjacent to groups of conifers. One visitor reported that one had the impression that in this castle it was not man who came here first and planted rhododendrons, but rather that rhododendrons were here first and then came man to make a path through the rhododendron forest.
One of the German rhododendron fanciers quotes Bowers as saying that Rhododendron clementinae is fastidious. He attributes this characterization to plants grown in ground rich with acid humus. He states that he has observed a plant of this species for more than 20 years in Munich where it grows on the north slope of the Munich Botanic Garden, together with Rhododendron rufum batalin. Both of these are doing extremely well in this particular spot, planted amongst chalk shards. The observer stated that his own plants of this kind growing in a neutral soil were completely healthy. The blue-green foliage was especially attractive and he was surprised that this plant honored by its collector, Forrest, with the name of his wife was not more generally appreciated. R. clementinae is native at a height of 11,000 feet, in the inner provinces of China so that its withstanding the hard winters of Munich is easy to comprehend.