P. H. Brydon
As I write these notes March 11, R. 'Bric-a-brac' is in full bloom at Brooks. Because of our unusually severe winter, it would seem that this charming dwarf rhododendron is bud hardy despite the fact that it blooms quite early in the season. Certainly it ought to prove worthy of a trial in the gardens of our eastern members where comparable climatic conditions exist. The lowest recorded temperature at Brooks this winter was 9 degrees F. and for many days the mercury rarely attained much above freezing. It recalls to mind the fact that, in England, during the winter of 1946-47, R. 'Polar Bear' came through unscathed, whereas its two parents, R. diaprepes and R. auriculatum were badly damaged. This information is on record in the British Gardener's Chronicle of Oct. 9, 1948, by Mr. R. B. Smith, Brantridge Park Gardens, who points out that the progeny from a primary cross is often more vigorous than either parent. My experience with R. leucaspis and R. moupinense would indicate that in R. 'Bric-a-brac' we have another example of hybrid vigor since both the aforementioned species are early flowering and inclined to be bud tender during severe winters.
R. 'Bric-a-brac' (leucaspis x moupinense) was created by the late Lionel de Rothschild at his gardens in Exbury, Southampton and received an Award of Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society on February 20th, 1945. The plant from which the accompanying illustration was taken was received from Mr. Edmund de Rothschild in 1947. Propagations have grown vigorously and from our experience compact budded plants can be obtained within two years from cuttings. Ultimately it becomes a compact twiggy shrublet, from 2 to 3 feet in height and about the same in width. The leaves are ovate elliptic, 1¼ to 2 inches long, ¾ to 1 inch wide, and dull green. In general, the foliage resembles R. moupinense, but the plant has a much better habit. The 2 to 3 flowered inflorescences are abundantly produced at the terminals of the twiggy shoots. The flowers are broadly funnel shaped, 2½ inches wide and from 1 to 1½ inches long. In bud, they are rich deep pink and open to almost pure white with deep pink markings on the interior of the upper petals. A striking contrast is provided by the ten dark brown anthers.
R. 'Bric-a-brac' is a lovely hybrid and a valuable addition to the ranks of dwarf evergreen shrubs suited for either foreground or foundation plantings.