Variety Adds Spice
F.C. Galle, Pine Mountain, Georgia
Several years ago I used a similar title for a talk "Variegated Plants Add Spice". Like the many condiments used in cooking, variegated foliage and new plants add a charm and flavor to our Gardens. It's doubtful if we'd want to take a tablespoon of salt at one time or even an entire garden of variegated foliage. However, with proper selecting and blending they can become a feature or a highlight.
Just a few years ago we had only a few variegated azaleas from Japan. The satsuki azalea, 'Keisetsu', introduced by the Plant Introduction Station in 1938 was probably one of the first. Now we have several satsuki azaleas with spots and flakes of yellow on the dark green foliage, such as 'Fuji nomine', 'Meizan', 'Uki nishiki', 'Kinpo' and others.
A marginal variegated foliage plant of R. simsii was first introduced to the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley. Today there is a variegated plant sold in California called 'Purple Tabor' and another in Florida, 'Florida Beauty'. It is possible these may both be the same from the R. simsii plant. Any information on the origin of these plants would be appreciated.
Two marginal, variegated satsuki azaleas, 'Shira fuji' and 'Murasaki fuji', are in a few collectors' gardens in the United States.
'Shira fuji', introduced first, has white flowers with many variations of purple flakes and sectors to solid purple. The flowers of 'Murasaki fuji' vary from white with a soft purplish pink border to solid selfs.
Presently we have information on four marginal variegated azaleas introduced from nurseries in the United States: 'Southern Belle' P.P. is a sport of 'Pink Ruffles' and should be released next year from Alabama. 'Red Ruffles' variegated was found by Julius Nuccio in California. 'Silver Streak' is a Greenwood azalea from Oregon and a sport of 'Deep Purple'. 'Silver Sword', a patented plant, from Cottage Gardens in Ohio, is a sport of 'Girard's Rose'. The foliage on 'Silver Sword' turns a beautiful reddish tint in the fall while the others retain their green. A flecked leaf sport of Southern Charm was introduced in the late 70's.
Variegated deciduous azaleas are very uncommon. Had a report of one found about 20 years ago in Ohio but later died. I have a two year old open pollinated seedling from a hybrid R. austrinum x atlanticum with both marginal and flecked variations as the foliage. Bob McCartney of Woodlanders in S.C. collected a variegated foliage plant of R. canescens in Tattnall County in Southeast Georgia.
Work on rewriting the Azalea Book has been slow and challenging. This fall with the help of a word processor, I'll be changing my collecting of data from cards to the computer. This will allow more flexibility to change, update, delete and add information right up to printing time.
This is all leading up to a request for information on azaleas named and introduced in the past twenty years. In addition to variegated azaleas, there are many azaleas with little or no information available. Hopefully, this article, over individual letters, will aid in collecting data.
Data requested includes the name, parentage or sport, general group such as Kurume, Knaphill and etc., flower color, size and type, plant habit, unusual characteristics and hardiness. A data sheet will be sent out on request.
As a starter, I would like information on the following azaleas and will follow up with another list later:
'Purple Tabor', variegated foliage
'Florida Beauty', variegated foliage
'Little John' red foliage
'Mattison' red foliage
'Anytime' used in NCSU - hybrids
Kaempo (kaempferi x 'Gumpo')
Any help or leads will be appreciated and remember to add spice to your life and gardens by trying new plants.
DATA FOR NEW AZALEA CULTIVAR
Name of cultivar (use asterisk before to indicate cultivar registered).
Parentage (if known). Sport of _______.
General group (i.e., Gable, IIam, Knap Hill, Kurume, etc.).
Hybridizer and/or introducer. Approximate year of introduction.
Flower color numbers from R.H.S. Colour Chart, H.C.C., or Nickerson Color Fan (Munsell). Color names from NBS special Publication 440 (Universal Language and Dictionary of Names) to be used wherever possible.
Flower size and form, i.e., single, semi-double, double, hose-in-hose.
Blooming season (early, mid-season, late, very late).
Plant habit at near 10 years (low, average, tall; upright, broad, rounded, dwarf, creeping).
Unusual characteristics (as fragrance, colorful fall or winter foliage, flower size or form (as pompon), variegated flowers or leaves, very free flowering, etc.).
Plant hardiness (USDA hardiness zone).
Flower bud hardiness (unusual minimum temperature at which unharmed).