Two Large Rhododendrons
John C. Wister, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
On Providence Road, near the Philadelphia suburb of Media, there are two R. catawbiense hybrids about 20 feet high and 30 feet across.
The accompanying photograph, taken by Dr. Franklin West in June, 1976, shows them in bloom. One is a rosy pink and the other a lighter pink much like some of our so-called Iron-Clads which are widely grown in this area. It is hardly likely that anyone will try to identify them by name (if they are indeed varieties that have been named and not seedlings).
No information is available when or by whom they were planted. We know that Anthony Waterer of Knap Hill, Surrey, created an American horticultural sensation when he exhibited some three hundred rhododendron plants with flowers of many colors at the Philadelphia World's Fair of the 1876 Centennial, and that these plants were later sold. We know, also, that Waterer and other British as well as Dutch nurseries shipped large numbers of rhododendrons to this country from that time and until our plant quarantine of 1917.
The present owners of the house (which is typical of many that were built in the area in the 1880's and 1890"s) apparently have little or no interest in rhododendrons and have no information to give beyond the fact that the plants were apparently almost as large when they bought the house some twenty years ago, and they do not know the name of the builder or original owner.