Five Plants that Won't Let You Down
Byron Neff, Setauket, NY
Reprinted From New York Chapter Newsletter
I enjoy being in the vanguard of those trying the new rhododendrons that are borderline hardy in our area. After the last two hard winters, and in view of the predicted frigid '82-'83 winter, I am convinced that the bulk of one's plants, should be tried and true varieties that you can count on to thrive in good years and bad years.
Some plants that have done well for me every year and that I especially like are 'Westbury', 'Mrs. W. R. Coe', 'GiGi', 'Cadis' and 'Mardi Gras'. I have all these plants growing in full sun and they are quite dense. None has been bud blasted, or has had any windburn or sun scorch on the leaves.
'WESTBURY' is one of the Dexter hybrids. My plant is seven years old and is three feet high and six feet wide. It blooms heavily every year and makes quite a display. 'Westbury' is one of the parents of 'Wheatley', the flowers of which are quite similar. I think 'Westbury' has a better plant habit, and perhaps 'Wheatley' has a better truss.
'MRS. W. R. COE' is another of the Dexters, and has the largest leaves of any Dexter that I know. It is a vigorous grower, and in a sunny location develops into a symmetrical shape. I think it is going to become a very large plant. It does not bloom heavily. The flowers are a beautiful shade of pink.
'GIGI' still another Dexter with a three star movie name, and a real movie star owner in its chain of title. It is also the recipient of our Society's Award of Excellence. Its flowers are rose red and it usually blooms profusely. At its peak of perfection, it is quite a sight.
'CADIS', a Gable hybrid, is a cross between 'Caroline' and discolor. It has the American Rhododendron Society, Award of Excellence. At eight years old, it is about four feet high and six feet wide. It blooms the first week in June, when most other plants are finished. It is a heavy bloomer, with light pink flowers.
'MARDI GRAS' is a cross between Rhododendron yakushimanum and 'Vanessa', made by Robert Bovee. It is one-half Rhododendron yakushimanum, one quarter Rhododendron griersonianum, one-eighth Rhododendron souliei, and one-eighth Rhododendron fortunei. I have a number of yakushimanum clones and hybrids and for an exposed location, I think 'Mardi Gras' is the best of all.
My plant is eight years old and is about three feet high and three feet wide. It is very dense and has dark green leaves, with a cinnamon-colored indumentum. It is a prolific bloomer, with flowers of a bright pink and white blend. I like the plant and I thought the name romantic until I found out that "Mardi Gras" means "Fat Tuesday". So? "What's in a name? That which we can call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". ("Romeo and Juliet")