The F. C. C. Form?
Hadley Osborn, El Cerrito, California
Last spring a prominent grower noted that the form of 'Tally Ho' most commonly seen in California apparently differs from the plant being propagated in the Portland area. He then kindly sent down a young plant and noted that although he couldn't be sure and didn't list it as such, it was believed his was the F.C.C. form. Curiosity aroused, I set off in a brisk trot for the library to see if a detailed description of the F.C.C. form existed. In the R. H. S. Journal (vol. 59, p. 38) I found the following charming information. On May 23, 1933 a First Class Certificate was awarded to:
R. 'Tally-Ho' as a hardy flowering plant from Lady Loder, Leonardslee and J. J. Crosfield, Esq., Embley Park. The name R. 'Tally-Ho' covers all seedlings raised between R. griersonianum and R. eriogynum. The two seedlings shown were almost identical in flower but differed in the size of the leaves, R. eriogynum being the female parent of one and R. griersonianum of the other...
A more extensive if less official account is found on p. 370 of the May 27, 1933 Gardeners' Chronicle and confirms that 'Tally Ho' (they leave out the hyphen) refers to plants raised from griersonianum x eriogynum as well as from eriogynum x griersonianum, and that the F.C.C. was given to a representative of both.
Rhododendrons are so responsive to growing conditions that it is difficult to say for sure, but there are clearly two and probably three different clones of 'Tally Ho' in cultivation here. Whether one or both of the two most distinct plants are "F.C.C. forms" clearly matters little. Where they are cold hardy they are superb garden plants and if given room have a much better habit than either the parentage or the literature would lead you to believe.
Another pitfall lurks for the unwary collector of F.C.C.'s. As many have pointed out, several species have received the F.C.C. more than once, with the different forms having quite different ornamental effect. Dr. Fletcher particularly stressed this in remarks reprinted in the Proceedings of the International Rhododendron Conference (copies of this, by the way, are still available and at $1.50 are the best bargain in rhododendron information around). Still, just a few years ago a pioneer importer and very knowledgeable man went to trouble and expense to import the F.C.C. form of R. lacteum, only to receive a form awarded in 1926 which has the milky-white flowers that gave the species its name, rather than the more recent F.C.C. form with bright yellow flowers.
Finally: Cheerful optimism is always appealing, but there is too great a tendency (even by otherwise cautious men) to label plants award forms just because they might be such. One of the best little lapponicums is sold in America as R. fastigiatum F.C.C. Unfortunately R. fastigiatum never received this award, though it did receive the A.M. in 1914. It has been suggested that our plant is the A.M. form and was imported as merely "the award form". But in the absence of verification all we should say is that it is a superb form - which it is.