In Memoriam: Hjalmar L. Larson
April 5, 1897 - October 29, 1983
Britt Smith, Kent, WA
Hjalmar acquired an interest in rhododendrons long before most of us had even heard of them as ornamental shrubs. He operated a rhododendron nursery longer than any other individual in the State of Washington. He was a prolific hybridizer, and a substantial number of his hybrids are well known. More will become known as the years pass. Species of rhododendrons also played a prominent role in his garden, and he grew some species and varieties of species which are not frequently seen - often from seed which he secured from the plant explorers. After touring his garden, Mr. H.H. Davidian commented that the species there were the most interesting collection and the most accurately identified that he had seen in a private garden in the United States at that time.
Hjalmar counted among his friends Mr. Seleger of Switzerland, Dr. Rokujo of Japan, and Mr. John Patrick of the United States. Through these people and numerous others he acquired plants not previously grown in the United States, often by exchanging some of his new hybrids or some rare plant which he had acquired from some other source. His seeking new forms of rhododendron species led him to Mr. K.C. Pradhan, and out of their correspondence developed the now extensive and well known romance with Sikkim.
Hjalmar's departure ends an era which featured, along with his name, the names of Halfdan Lem, Bill Whitney, Ben Nelson, Carl Sifferman, Lester Brandt, Andre Ostbo, Ben Lancaster, Rudolph Henny, and a few others. As we miss Hjalmar, we will remember others who each lent his contributions to that colorful, floriferous era and to the future.