RHODODENDRONS IN AMERICA
By Ted Van Veen, 176 pp. over 200 color illustrations
Published by Sweeney, Krist & Dimm, Inc., Portland, Oregon
Reviewed by P. H. Brydon
Twenty-six years ago, when the American Rhododendron Society first began, I had the pleasure of meeting another Theodore Van Veen. He was a gentle man, modest and unassuming about his knowledge but one who had the respect and love of all who knew him. He was the author's father and known to us all as "Van". His son's book is perhaps the best memorial he could have and certainly he would have been proud of this splendid contribution to the art of growing rhododendrons, for, in a way, it represents an extension of his skill and is reflected in his son's ability as a successful rhododendron grower.
In a very practical and readable manner, Ted has reduced the bewildering array of hybrids to the point where the beginner can make an intelligent selection for his particular location. Even so, there are over 300 cultivars described in this excellent work and its appeal applies to all whether they be amateurs, professionals, "experts", collectors or whatever. The professional nurseryman must find this book invaluable as a selling aid with its range of varieties, color illustrations, hardiness ratings, and notes on individual performance and habit.
There is one small correction for the record. On page 5, the author states "it was interesting for me to learn from P. H. Brydon...that rhododendrons were not introduced to the San Francisco area until 1915." It is possible that Ted is thinking about the account of John McLaren's importation of the best rhododendrons that Britain, and Europe had to offer for use in the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. By 1887, there were seven or eight rhododendron species and hybrids growing in Golden Gate Park, among them R. dalhousiae, R. glaucum and R. hodgsonii. By 1893 there were 44 species and hybrids in cultivation and by 1910, the total had increased to 86. Today, Golden Gate Park has one of the finest collections of species and hybrids in the country.
Stanley Anderson, the photographer responsible for the superb illustrations, and Howard Somer, the designer-artist are to be congratulated for their important contribution to an excellent work.