R. yunnanense At Exbury
P. H. Brydon, Salem, Oregon
Photo by P. H. Brydon
Those of us who have had the privilege to visit Exbury in early May will recall the magnificent display of R. yunnanense and its several forms. The illustration on page 103 shows the late Fred Wynniatt, who was head gardener at Exbury, in front of a stunning group which have almost reached their reported maximum stature of twelve feet. Lionel de Rothschild was a generous contributor to various plant hunting expeditions and in all probability grew these plants from one of Forrest's or Kingdon Ward's collections of the late 20's or early 30's.
It is a mystery to me why this easily grown flowering shrub is not more in evidence in our gardens. Perhaps the wholesale growers of nursery stock have been too preoccupied with the flashier hybrids to realize that here is a first class shrub for the small or large garden which can be used as an informal hedge or screen plant. It will do well in fairly dense shade or full light, provided it is not planted against a full south or west exposure. With the exception of our severe winters of 1950 and 1972, when we had sub-zero temperatures, it is perfectly hardy along the Pacific Coast and, though the bark split in some localities, it has recovered from the base with vigor.
R. yunnanense is quite variable and botanists have now considered aechmophyllum, chartophyllum and pleistantlttiin to be synonyms. Some forms are almost completely deciduous as in R. chartophyllum. The color ranges from pink, shades of rose-lavender to white. The most attractive form which I have grown was received under R. chartophyllum and had rounded trusses of white flowers with a rust red flare in the throat.