In Memoriam: Dietrich G. Hobbie
Hans Andre Schultz, President
The German Rhododendron Society
Bremen, West Germany
On November 13th, 1985, Dietrich G. Hobbie passed away at Linswege in the district of Oldenburg, West Germany. His name is well known everywhere in the "World of Rhododendron".
Hobbie lived and died on his farm in the "Ammerland". Mention of his farm dates back as far as 1124. Documents of the year 1428 state that a certain Johann Hobbie was well-off and that he owned a distinguished residence.
D. G. Hobbie was a farmer. Part of his farm was in pine woods, over 150 years old. His passion was his forest. In 1929, he sowed his first rhododendrons, R. catawbiense, R. japonicum and R. luteum, below his pines. He was happy with the success of these first plantings and was encouraged to continue his work with rhododendrons.
Because of his interest in plants and especially in rhododendrons, he made contact with botanical gardens and other gardeners and botanists such as Gerhard D. Bohlje (Grand-daddy Bohlje), Westerstede; Alexander Steffen, Dresden-Pillnitz; Camillo Schneider, Berlin; and Professor Wright Smith, Director of the Edinburgh Botanical Garden.
When he began to breed rhododendrons, Hobbie visited England. He was overwhelmed with the abundance of species he saw there. The new hybrids of the Rothschilds in Exbury made a particularly strong impression on him. It was after his trip to England, that he started making his famous crosses.
R. williamsianum and R. forrestii var. repens, hybridized with every flowery, evergreen species, were a big success at once. These williamsianum and repens hybrids are now seen in almost every German garden. They are widely spread throughout Europe and are not unknown in America.
D. G. Hobbie had the instinct and sensitivity to select outstanding types from the wild collections for his new hybrids, especially those of R. discolor, R. wardii and R. yakushimanum. Many of his newest hybrids are not yet well known, they are waiting in his estate to be discovered.
Hobbie was very fond of traveling in order to become acquainted with new rhododendrons and with new friends of rhododendron. However, when the rhododendrons were in blossom, he was at his estate to meet friends and visitors and show them his rhododendrons. The test garden with the wonderful old pines had become the most important part of his estate.
On a dark day last November, he had to leave his family, his friends and his Rhododendron Park for good. He will survive through the rhododendrons he has bred.