Meldon Kraxberger, Portland, Oregon
Photo by Cecil Smith
Not too many years ago it was only necessary to point with pride to your 'Crest' to impress garden visitors, even though it was small and had no bloom. Now 'Crest' is famous and plentiful and loved for its beauty, rather than rarity. 'Carita', 'Idealist', 'Damaris'--all "best" yellows - fade into cream with the blooming of 'Crest'.
The Rothschild story of the origin of 'Crest' is now legend among all rhododendron growers. Born of royal rhododendron lineage, R. wardii x 'Lady Bessborough', this plant apparently inherited mostly virtues. 'Crest' slowly becomes a large bush; this means more and more of those luscious May trusses. 'Crest' fits naturally into light woodland; with the necessary afternoon summer shade and ample moisture the foliage remains a good fresh green, extra desirable since the inner foliage sheds each year. But the crowning glory of 'Crest' is the lovely trusses; many corollas, perfectly placed, open, looking back at you, and luminous yellow. This is the one large-flowered yellow hybrid safely sold out of bloom to the unwise public as "yellow".
'Crest' accepts moderate fertilizing (woodland plants should be allowed to grow naturally with very little pruning and forcing); roots easily although slowly; increases in vigor as time goes by. Statistics: hardy to -5 degrees, rating 5/3, honored by 4 stars in England, decorated with the FCC in 1953. Chances are it will be many years before another yellow arrives on the rhododendron scene to give 'Crest' serious competition.