The Origin of Rhododendron 'P. J. M.'
Edmund V. Mezitt, Hopkinton, Mass.
(Reprinted from Massachusetts Chapter Newsletter)
Rhododendron 'P.J.M.' is a cross between Rhododendron dauricum and Rhododendron carolinianum. However, the results of many other crosses made by myself and others have never before or since produced the vigor and beauty of 'P.J.M.' The obvious reason for this is in choice of the parent plants.
In 1939 my father, Peter J. Mezitt, and I spoke to friends of missionaries who told of unusual and interesting plants growing in the mountains of Northern China. We gave them $50 to send us a few seedlings. Among these was one outstanding plant that proved to be a very evergreen form of Rhododendron dauricum.
Several years later I saved some pollen on a camel's hair brush and number of weeks later remembered to dab the pollen on a flower of Rhododendron carolinianum which we were using as seed stock. This was the first cross I ever made. Fortunately, I remembered to gather the seed pod that fall and germination that winter was successful.
We had all but forgotten this hybrid over the next several years until one Sunday in early May in 1945. We were just developing our nursery in Hopkinton, and we were visiting it that morning, having been tied up during the busy season at Weston for most of the week. My heart still skips a beat when I recall the reaction of our entire family when we saw that ribbon of brilliant pink running across the hill. My Dad was so enthusiastic about these little dwarf plants - only six to eight inches tall - in full bloom, that he immediately made the remark that this was the most spectacular rhododendron of our time. We named it 'P.J.M.' right on the spot and those of us who knew him can see the vigor, excitement, and showmanship he possessed perfectly reflected in this plant.