'Guardian Fir', C. A. (1975 Plant Awards)
['Albatross' x (R. discolor x 'Tally Ho')]
Founta Butler, Bothell, Washington
R. 'Guardian Fir' was acquired from Halfdan Lem as a two-year old seedling in 1958. It bloomed for the first time in 1966 and was set in permanent position in a sunny site exposed to the south and southwest. The peach-pink, ball-shaped trusses of slightly overlapping 4½ to 5" flowers have very heavy substance which holds up well in sun and rain. (On one occasion the flowers survived a brief hailstorm intact.) This firm substance is a necessity since the blooming period is mid to late June. It can also be counted on to flower freely every year.
Both plant (no foliar burn) and flower buds appear to be rock hardy, seldom affected by our relatively cold situation on Rhody Ridge Park where temperatures drop to 0° occasionally with periods in the teens almost every winter. Although leaves are held only one year, the plant branches easily and sends up vigorous new growth from the base, responding well to pruning, to form a robust shrub of six feet by six feet in ten years.
'Guardian Fir' has shown only one significant drawback so far: it stubbornly refuses to root from cuttings. However, several types of grafts are being tried this year, and we hope at least one of these methods will solve the problems of propagation.
('Guardian Fir' was named for "FIR", our German shepherd who acted as guardian for all the young plants in the early years when Rhody Ridge Park was in its beginning stages. In spite of his huge size and rather fierce manner Fir never once stepped on the smallest seedling or broke a branch in all his ten years of looking after all of us.)