Trusses Are Nice But
Austin C. Kennell, Martinsburg, W. Va.
If I were a rhododendron, I don't believe I'd be much impressed with folks who make such a big fuss over my flowers but practically ignore my many other interesting and, in most cases, more important, attributes. I'd probably be quite disappointed that none of these other good points were given much attention. I find it hard to understand why my beauty is seemingly judged by something I do only a few weeks out of each year, particularly when that judgment is made in an artificially created setting rather than in context with the rest of me. And, along with most of my fellow rhodos who don't have a big perfectly formed truss with magnificently hued flowers, I'd undoubtedly lead a vociferous protest for equal time!
But since I'm not a rhododendron,* I guess I can't speak for them. I can, however, speak as an individual who loves rhodos for their multi-faceted and year-round appeal. Flowers are an important part of the composite attractiveness of a rhododendron - but they are not the most significant component to me. Nice big perfect trusses and gorgeously colored flowers are certainly nice but do not in themselves make outstanding rhododendrons.
I hope no one gets the idea that I'm against flowers. I like them! I'm also not against Truss Shows. I enjoy them! What I don't particularly like is a tendency to focus so much attention on trusses that the other desirable and attractive characteristics of my beloved rhododendrons sort of get shunted into the background.
I don't advocate the abolishment of Truss Shows, but I would like to also see some other shows that focus attention on the other interesting and beautiful rhododendron features. Some possibilities are Foliage Shows, Fragrance Shows, New Growth Shows, Fall Coloration Shows, Plant Habit Shows, Stem Shows, and Indumentum Shows. Such shows would add new dimensions to the fascinating subject of a rhododendron's appeal.
There are many rhododendrons I'd love even if they never bloomed. There are many rhododendrons I cherish even though they do not have perfect trusses. But I've never seen even one rhododendron I would want if it had nothing but flowers.
*but my wife says I might as well be one.