Just For Fun
Edith Phetteplace, Eugene, Ore.
I love rhododendrons but...after going to the last National Meeting of the Society I realized that there were several kindred souls and wonderful people who feel as I do about the Species, the Hybrid, the Indumentum, Ovary, Hairs, Gland, etc., but still love the beauty and the people who follow this international hobby.
After many mistakes and frustrations, some hilarious, some maddening and some downright embarrassing, perhaps some of these young wives and husbands (since some women are addicts too) might be amused at what I will try to tell about my experiences. Mostly what I have learned not to do!
If you don't believe in perfectionism, and I don't, just forget all you can about who has been crossed with whom to get what. Just relax and realize that these "Rhody Nuts" do have their genes under control or they could never cross one with the other and come out with the best traits of each so well.
Don't make the mistake I did and try to make an impression by calling them by their real name. I tried it once, and over my shoulder came my husband's voice, "Oh, no Edith! That isn't a Decorum, that is an Elliottii." One other time I faked a name, thinking he was on the other side of the park, and the same thing happened. Only I even called it a species and it was one of his favorite crossed up beauties! Again, "No, no, Edith! That is a Hybrid." "And, what is a hybrid?" I asked. "Well, we take this -onianum and cross it with that -onianum and call it FCC x 101" This cured me. I gave up calling their names and disregarded who was crossed with whom.
I still wasn't cured, however, of trying to appear intelligent about these beautiful things and since everyone seemed to take them so seriously I posed, looking intently at the trusses. One time someone, thinking because my husband was such an expert that some of it might have rubbed off on me, asked if I could tell him by looking at the indumentum what the cross might be! I facetiously answered, "I did not bring my eye glass." Good Heavens! No sooner had I mentioned this object than an oversupply was offered for my use. Well! I stuttered myself out of that one, and learned never to underestimate the exuberant nature of the indumentum lover.
My next try was to attempt to connect some of these names like Wardii, Facetum, Griersonianum, Loderi, Thomsonii, Barbatum, Falconeri, Williamsianum, Campylocarpum, etc. (I copied these out of a book) with some object or creature, or someone's name, such as "Honey Babe," "Sugar Pie," FCC x 42, or something.
Since my grandson has a yen for the Falcon bird and we have a Falconeri blooming in our garden, I though I had this one made. As we were visiting in another garden I was just sure this time I couldn't go wrong and was bold enough to call a plant "Falconeri" - but the same voice came over my shoulder, "Oh, No, Edith! That isn't a Falconeri, that is an unnamed variety from Hong Kong (or some such place). Look at the indumentum; see! this isn't at all like our Falconri."
For a long time I thought it my duty to try to attend the meetings so I went along, but having gone to sleep after trying to look at hundreds of films and hearing all the Latin I had long since forgotten, and catching myself falling out of my chair, I have given that up too. I am ready to admit that I have taken my place at the bottom of the class. I no longer care about crossed up genes, and if I did I could never be clever enough to figure out which to cross up with whom to get the beautiful, healthy and soul-reaching beauties that these "Nuts" come up with.
I don't ever want to miss these meetings, even though many people admit that I act deaf, dump and blind. I love every one of them, and as long as I don't take them seriously and can keep my sense of humor I hope to stay in the inner circle of these indumentum fixationists. I will see no indumentum, hear nothing of the indumentum and say nothing of the indumentum!
See you next year!