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Journal American Rhododendron Society

Current Editor:
Dr. Glen Jamieson ars.editor@gmail.com


Volume 43, Number 3
Summer 1989

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The Meerkerk Hybrid Test Garden
Pat Halligan
Freeland, Washington

Background
Max and Ann Meerkerk moved to Whidbey Island, Washington in 1963 and purchased 13 acres of land. Over the next 15 years they built an exceptional garden, concentrating on rhododendrons, but also incorporating other rare and beautiful plants. They bought many large, full grown rhododendrons, as well as seedlings from well known Northwest hybridizers, such as Lem, Brandt, Ostbo, Larson and Nelson. Before Max died in 1969, they bought 20 more acres, and after his death Anne bought another 20 acres, making the garden a total of 53 acres. The majority of this land remains as natural forest.

Ann Meerkerk    Max Meerkerk
Ann Meerkerk
Photo by Pat Halligan
   Max Meerkerk
Photo by Pat Halligan

        In 1979, when Ann Meerkerk knew she was seriously ill, she asked her friends Mrs. Stimson Bullitt and Mrs. Matthew Clark to find a way to preserve the garden. They contacted Mr. Brian Mulligan, former director of the University of Washington Arboretum and Mr. Edward Dunn, former president of the Seattle Rhododendron Society and the American Rhododendron Society. They visited the garden and suggested that the Seattle Rhododendron Society preserve it. On July 17, 1979, only weeks after signing her will, Ann Wright Meerkerk died knowing that her garden would be preserved.
        Ann's wishes guide the planning and development of the garden. In her will she stated "The gardens are given for the purpose of actively developing and maintaining a horticultural test and display garden for rhododendrons and companion plants...I would anticipate that the gardens would be used to test, select, and propagate superior plant materials." With these wishes in mind, the Meerkerk Rhododendron Hybrid Test Garden was conceived and developed.
        During the next few years several acres were cleared and prepared for planting, including about an acre dedicated to the hybrid test garden. The first hybrids were planted five years ago, in time for the ARS National Convention in Seattle. Since then, the test garden has expanded from 291 varieties in 1985 to 360 varieties in 1988. Each spring, the hybrid test garden is the brightest spot in a grand collection of rhododendrons throughout the garden.
        The hybrid test garden is the result of a lot of work by many people. Past Directors of Meerkerk Gardens, including Loyd Newcomb, Doug Benoliel and Bill Heller, and others including Bob McNulty, Keith Rodaway, Eddie Newcomb and Ellie Hensel had a lot of input on how the test garden was set up. Early development of the test garden was aided by Dave Hensel, John Rasmus, Tamara Benoleil, Ed Bancroft, John Reeves, Marge Robbins and Mike Robbins.
        Plants were donated by a number of growers, of which Bruce Briggs deserves special mention. Other donors include Bob and Marge Badger, Joe Davis, Fred Dewald, Elmer Fisher, Don Gardner, Harold Greer, Stan and Dody Hall, Bob Templeton, Don King, Jean Lennon, Jack Lofthouse, Loyd and Eddie Newcomb, Clint Smith, Bill and Mary Stipe, Hideo Suzuki, Sweetbriar Nursery, Greg Kesterson, Frank Fujioka, Elsie Watson and Margaret Young.
        A great number of people contributed their time to rate the plants. Those who rated the plants most often, but are not mentioned elsewhere are Hank Engman, John Gerry, Don Milliken, Jim Ramsey, Jeannine and Rex Smith, Mark Tompkins, Arlene Cook, Fred Waller, Ray Weidert, Walt Wilkes, Yasmin Workman, and Mike Zimmerman. Activities centered around the test garden have helped bring together members of our society, and the volunteers have profited by their fellowship, their increased knowledge and by the joy of experiencing the beauty of rhododendrons in bloom.

Purpose
The test garden was established to evaluate the habit, bloom and performance of new rhododendrons. The use of a common growing site for all of the test plants aids in this evaluation, by giving all of the plants reasonably uniform conditions, and by affording the opportunity to view all of the plants side by side. In my experience, this last advantage turned out to be the most important, since it is so difficult (for me, at least) to carry an accurate impression of a rhododendron around in my head and compare it to another variety somewhere else.
        Other uses of the test garden were envisioned, including informing rhododendron growers of the relative merits of the various hybrids, publicizing the very best plants with awards, making flowers and pollen available to hybridizers, and assisting in studies or research into rhododendron hybrids. The accompanying article, "The Meerkerk Hybrid Test Garden Ratings," is our first attempt to educate the public of the relative merits of the various hybrids tested at the garden.
        Hybridizers have found the plants in the test garden to be wonderful sources of fresh pollen. For us, the raters, the foremost advantage of the garden has been the opportunity to become intimately familiar with a large number of newer hybrids. I personally have at least doubled my knowledge of hybrid rhododendrons by working in the garden and I feel that my hobby of hybridizing rhododendrons has greatly benefited.

The Plants
Plants grown in the test garden are limited to newer hybrid rhododendrons, with the exception of a few old standards, which are used for comparison. Test plants are those which have just recently hit the general commercial market, older varieties which may have been overlooked, foreign varieties which are not yet generally available in America, and varieties which have not yet been commercially released. All plants grown in the test garden have been donated.
        We place the plants in the test garden when they have reached 1 or 2 gallon size, the size that you see in the local garden center. Foreign contributors are forced by import regulations to send us cuttings, which Loyd Newcomb expertly grafts onto established plants. When these have produced several branches, they are rooted. The rooted cuttings are grown to commercial size and then planted in the test garden. It takes several years to accomplish all this, but it is important to ensure that all plants in the test garden are grown on their own roots. Three plants of each variety are planted.

The Site
The test garden is located on Whidbey Island in Washington State at 48 degrees North. The climate is maritime, with mild dry summers, and cool wet winters. Average lows are about 15-20 degrees F, and extreme lows of 5-10 degrees F occur about once every ten years. The garden is in a clearing in a mixed Douglas fir - red cedar - western hemlock forest, with red alder and big-leaf maple in disturbed sites. Precipitation is about 20 inches per year, mostly in late autumn and winter. The soil is glacial till, with unpredictable large patches of sandy loam, sticky clay, or stony clay. The test site itself seems to be mostly a clay loam. We have greatly modified the soil by generous additions of Douglas fir sawdust, and red cedar waste material. Fertilization has become fine tuned for the soil, and despite some burnt leaves and chlorotic plants at the beginning, most of the plants have been doing well for a couple of years, especially since the addition of red cedar mulch. The plants are generally in full sun until mid or late afternoon, when the tall firs finally cast their long shadows on the garden.

Rating the Plants
Once planted, each rhododendron is allowed to settle in for about one year. This ensures that only flowers from buds set while the plants are in the garden will be considered. The plants are rated while they are flowering at weekly intervals. A committee of volunteers rates the plants according to a schedule which ensures that the garden is adequately covered each week of the flowering season. In addition, we recruit other ARS members who are visiting the garden to join in the rating.
        No training or detailed instructions are given to the raters, lf they like what they see, they give it a high rating, and vice versa. They are told to avoid imposing artificial standards on the plants and just use their own intuition. I give them the story of the cymbidium raters, who because of their rigid and technical standards actually thwarted progress in cymbidium breeding by forcing it to proceed solely on one preconceived line. We also allow anyone, knowledgeable or not, to rate the plants. It is our philosophy that the public are the real experts on what a rhododendron should look like, since they are the ones who will be buying, growing and appreciating the plants. Thus, I have encouraged non-experts to become members of the committee. Unfortunately, by the end of one season, they have become experts, but hopefully open minded experts.
        During the summer, we turn our attention to how the plants look the other 11 months. This separate rating is important, since the rating for the plant while in flower is deceptive. The mass of blooms fills in all the open spaces and dazzles the eye, briefly transforming a scraggly nearly bald plant into a compact blazing torch of color. The vegetative rating system incorporates both a description of the plants and a rating of the qualities of the various vegetative aspects. This is a laborious rating system which we do only once a year, in July and August when the new foliage has mostly hardened.
        In the winter, during a cold day, we rate the winter appearance of the plants, for rolling and drooping leaves. This way we can let the potential buyer know that during cold spells, plant "x" looks like a coat rack with cigars hanging from its hooks.
        Each plant is rated for at least three years before we release the results of our rating, so that we have given it an ample chance to perform. "Late bloomers" which seem to be improving each year are left for an extra few years, but almost all are terminated after five years of rating. The exception to this are a few of the very best plants, which are left as standards against which others can be compared. We try to replace the large standard plants with small individuals of the same varieties, so that they remain comparable to the test plants.

Solicitation for Plants
The Meerkerk Hybrid Test Garden extends an open invitation for hybridizers and growers to submit plants for evaluation. Hybridizers, growers and organizations who wish to submit plants for evaluation should contact the manager of Meerkerk Gardens for further information.

The Meerkerk Hybrid Test Garden Ratings

Introduction
The rating of hybrid rhododendrons has been largely a matter of recalling the plants one has seen in friends' gardens coupled with impressions made at truss shows. The compilation of ratings has largely been an opinion survey of the best informed members. Ratings have also been done independently by the various growers as they attempt to inform the buying public of the relative merits of their offerings.
        With the advent of the Meerkerk ratings, a new type of rating system has now appeared on the scene. This is a much more direct system, depending less on memory and more on direct observation. Plants are compared while they are growing side by side under similar conditions. Three aspects of the plants are rated at three different times of the year. The appearance of the blooms and blooming plants is rated in the spring on a weekly basis using the familiar format of bloom / foliage / overall appearance. The appearance of vegetative plants is rated once in midsummer using a new system which will be explained later. The appearance of plants during cold winter conditions is rated during a subfreezing day in winter.
        Information on the growing conditions, organization, and the philosophy of rating is explained in the accompanying article [above] on the test garden. Here I will explain the rating systems in detail.

Rating Blooming Plants
Blooming plants are rated using the typical 1 to 5 scale and the familiar flower / foliage/overall format.

Rating Vegetative Appearance
The vegetative appearance of rhododendrons is routinely overlooked in descriptions and rating of the plants. The vegetative appearance is important, though, because the plant is out of bloom 90 percent of the time. Many rhododendrons look lovely in bloom, but present a disheveled, awkward appearance the rest of the time, which is to say, most of the time. The trusses can fill in empty spots in sparsely foliaged plants, or divert a viewer's attention from irregular branching or drooping foliage. Foliage and vegetative appearance can best be rated when distracting blooms are absent. The vegetative descriptive ratings are based on a series of statements. Some are ratings, modified by descriptions that account for the ratings. Others are simply descriptions. The following is the key to the ratings:

1) Density
    4 very dense foliage (no stems show)
    3 fairly dense foliage (a few stems show)
    2 open foliage (stems plainly show)
    1 sparse foliage (bare stems exposed)

  A  stiffly ascending branches
  B  sparse branching
  F  few leaves per whorl
  I  irregularity of plant
  L  long new growth
  N  narrow leaves
  R  failure to retain old leaves
  T  formation of bare trunk
  W  weak prostrate stems

2) Symmetry
    4 very symmetrical
    3 fairly symmetrical
    2 fairly irregular
    1 very irregular

  U  upright
  R  rounded
  B  broad
  P  prostrate

3) Leaf Contour
    5 very attractive
    4 an asset to plant
    3 acceptable
    2 detracts from plant
   1 very unattractive

  A arched
  B bowed
  C crinkled
  D deformed
  F floppy
  I involute
  K keeled
  P puckered
  Q quilted
  R rolled
  T twisted
  W wavy
  X convex
  U very uniform from leaf to leaf
  L lacking uniformity
   + very
   - slightly

4) Leaf surface
  D dull
  A average
  S shiny
  I indumented
  H hairy
  L light green
  M medium green
  U dark green
  U upper surface
  V lower surface
  X both surfaces
  J juvenile only
  C chlorotic
  G greyish
  B brownish
  Y yellowish
  R reddish
  + very
  - slightly

5) Leaf Placement
    5 very attractive
    4 an asset to plant
    3 acceptable
    2 detracts from plant
    1 very unattractive

  F too few leaves in each whorl
  I irregular leaf arrangement
  L leaves widely spaced on long stems
  O old leaves hang down
  S leaves of widely differing sizes
  U very uniform and neat placement

6) Number of leaf flushes present

7) Pathology
  B sunburn
  C caterpillar damage
  D dieback
  R rust
  M marginal leaf burn
  S leaf spot
  W weevil damage

8) Comments

        A quick rundown on what each category refers to is as follows: Density refers to the density of the foliage. Can you see through the foliage? Can you see a bare trunk and branches? Do the leaves overlap visually, or are there open spaces between each leaf? The letters below are modifiers, explaining the density rating. Most are self explanatory. Some are annoying flaws that crop up in many rhododendrons, such as the tendency to form a bare trunk. Try as you may to prevent it, some rhododendrons insist on producing a bare trunk and lower branches, forming a topknot of foliage on a bare trunked miniature tree.
        Symmetry refers to the tendency of the plant to grow into a neat shape, such as a sphere or cube. A very irregular plant will have branches growing out at crazy angles in unpredictable places. Symmetry could also be called shapeliness. The modifiers refer to the ratio of height to width. Upright means taller than wide. Rounded means about as tall as wide. Broad is wider than tall and prostrate is much wider than tall.
        Leaf contour refers to the shape of the surface and edges of the leaves. This is not the same as the leaf shape that is referred to in descriptions, such as elliptic or orbiculate. Rather, it refers to the deviations in contour from a hypothetical perfect flat leaf. Most of the deviations detract from the appearance, but some are actually attractive, hence the rating before the description. Often if all the leaves have precisely the same contour, such as 'Hallelujah' the effect will be quite attractive.
        Leaf surface refers to the color and indumentum. Leaf placement is a concept which is rather elusive to describe, but is very important to the appearance of the plant. It is that "something" that we find hard to verbalize. It refers to the way the leaves are arranged and held on the plant, as well as the uniformity in leaf size. What makes the plant 'Unique' so beautiful? It is its leaf placement. Each leaf looks like it was placed with great care to complement to beauty of the whole. In general, plants with leaves of uniform size that are held at a pert angle and are all arranged as with great care are very beautiful. Plants with large and small leaves, some sticking up, some hanging down, in lopsided clumps give a plant a disheveled appearance that is unattractive.
        The number of leaf flushes present in late July or early August is counted. A flush that is partially gone is still counted as a full flush, within reason.
        Pathology refers to several common disfigurements due to disease, pests, or cultural conditions.
        "Comments" is the receptacle for everything I forgot to mention. By the time you've finished with the other categories, you're usually too tired to bother with this one. Actually, with practice, this rating system can be applied rapidly and efficiently, but not without effort and concentration.
        The vegetative rating is scaled from 1 to 5 as follows: 1 very poor looking plant, 2 below average, 3 average looking plant, 4 better than average, 5 outstanding. I call this the "Summer rating" in the plant descriptions.

Winter Ratings
This rates the degree to which the leaves hang and roll at cold temperatures. Nothing looks worse than a rhododendron that literally looks dead during the winter. Although the Easterners may be reassured by the dead look that the plant is truly bundled up for the winter, Westerners tend to look at such behavior as unattractive.
        This year's winter ratings was conducted during a cold spell where the low was 10 degrees F. at Meerkerk. The temperature at the time of the ratings was 26 degrees. Due to our mild winter temperatures, our winter ratings will indicate much less severe droop and roll than would result from the same hybrids in eastern gardens.
        At the end of each plant description is a winter rating with two numbers. The first number refers to the degree of droop, and the second to the degree of roll as follows: 5 - none, 4 - acceptable, 3 - moderate, 2 - unsightly, 1 - severe. A winter rating of 5/5 denotes that the leaves are unaffected by the temperature at the time of determination. A winter rating of 1/1 denotes that the plant looks like a bunch of cigars hanging from a coat rack.
        The rating system at Meerkerk is not carved in stone. It has evolved over the years and I am sure that more changes are yet to be made. What follows is a list of the ratings for those plants which have completed their cycle at Meerkerk. Most of these plants will be removed from the test garden. A few of the very best will stay on as standards against which other new hybrids can be judged.

The Ratings
The individual ratings are arranged as follows: 1. Name, 2. Flowering rating: truss / foliage / plant, 3. Vegetative description, 4. Summer rating (vegetative rating), and 5. Winter rating (droop and roll).

#109 Brilliant Red 2.2/2.0/2.5 Slightly irregular spreading shrub of average density. Average green, slightly chlorotic leaves have acceptable contour and placement. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5, frost burn.

Anna Baldsiefen 3.8/2.8/3.1 Slightly irregular upright shrub tends to form bare trunk. Waviness and puckering of average green leaves detracts slightly. Irregular leaf placement is adequate. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Anna Rose Whitney 3.7/3.4/3.5 Open, somewhat irregular upright shrub. Some stems show due to sparse branching and irregularities. Slight twisting and waviness of leaf contour is acceptable, as is its slightly irregular leaf placement. Leaves are a dull dark green, inclined to be yellowish. Three flushes are present. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/4.

April Showers 2.7/2.7/2.5 Very sparse, willowy, irregular shrub of equal height and spread. Rolled and twisted leaves detract from the plant. Dark green leaves tend to be chlorotic. Old leaves hang downward, but leaf placement is acceptable. Two flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 5/5.

Brilliant 2.8/2.4/2.7 Fairly dense, but quite irregular prostrate plant. Irregularities reveal branches. Leaf contour and placement are acceptable. Leaf color reddish. Retains one or two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5, frost burn.

Carmen x Ken Janeck 2.9/3.6/3.4 Very dense and symmetrical prostrate plant. Leaf contour and placement are assets to the plant due to their uniformity. Three flushes. Summer rating 4. Winter rating 5/4.

Cathy Joe 4.2/3.0/3.0 Very sparsely clothed, very irregular plant of equal height and spread. Stems plainly show due to sparse branching and irregularity of growth habit. Average green leaves. Retains three leaf flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 5/5.

Chikor 4.0/3.8/3.9 Dense, fairly symmetrical plant of broad outline. Leaf contour and leaf placement are assets to the plant. Average green leaf color. One leaf flush is retained. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Colonel Coen 3.6/2.5/3.1 Sparsely foliaged very irregular plant of equal height and spread. Its stems show due to sparse branching, irregularity and weak trailing branches. Wavy, crinkled somewhat twisted leaf contour, light chlorotic leaf color, disheveled leaf placement are unattractive. Four flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 5/5.

Debbie 2.8/2.5/2.6 Rather open, somewhat irregular spreading plant. It tends to form a bare trunk, and its branches are visible due to sparse branching and irregularity. Leaf contour and placement are assets to the plant. Average green color. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5, frost burn.

Dixie Lee Ray 3.9/3.1/3.0 Fairly dense, rather symmetrical spreading shrub. Irregularity of growth and long new growths allow some stems to show. Leaf contour and placement are adequate, although the leaves are twisted, crinkled and somewhat arched. Dark green leaves. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/4.

Dora Amateis 3.6/3.3/3.5 Fairly dense rather symmetrical broad shrub. Some stems show due to a failure to retain old leaves. Twisted leaves and irregular leaf placement detract slightly from the plant. Average green leaves. One or two flushes are retained. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/4.

Double Date 2.6/2.2/2.3 Open, fairly symmetrical spreading shrub. Rather sparse branching allows stems to be visible. Slightly wavy and twisty leaf contour acceptable. Rather dull light green leaves, haphazard leaf placement detracts slightly from the plant. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/5.

Double Winner 3.4/3.4/3.4 Broad shrub of average density and symmetry. Narrow leaves and long new growth allow some branches to show. Rolled leaf contour detracts somewhat from the plant's appearance. Dull light green leaves tend to be chlorotic. Old leaves hang, but leaf placement is adequate. Two to three flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 4/4.

Douglas R. Stevens 3.9/3.5/3.4 Open rather irregular plant of equal height and spread. Sparse branching, long new growth and irregularity allow stems to show. Leaf contour and placement are acceptable. Leaves are dark green. Three flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/5.

Elizabeth Red Foliage 3.5/3.6/3.3 Slightly irregular and open plant of equal height and spread tends to show branches and bare trunk due to stiffly ascending branches. Reddish foliage somewhat unattractively rolled and twisted. Irregular leaf placement adequate. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/4, frost burn.

Frank Baum 3.4/3.3/3.1 Fairly dense somewhat symmetrical rounded plant. Irregularities and long new growth allow a few branches to show. Leaf contour is unattractive, with puckered, crinkled and bowed leaves. Dull medium green leaves tend to be chlorotic. Leaf placement adequate. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/5.

Frontier 2.9/3.6/3.2 Rather dense and symmetrical upright shrub. A tendency to form a bare trunk and stiffly ascending branches show the trunk. Twisted arched leaf contour detracts from the plant. Medium green leaves. Acceptable leaf placement although old leaves tend to hang. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 3/5.

Full Moon 3.4/3.2/3.2 Fairly dense rather symmetrical shrub of broad outline. Slightly rolled leaf contour and leaf placement are assets to the plant. Shiny, light yellowish green leaves tend to sunburn. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 3/5, frost burn.

Genghis Kahn 4.0/2.3/3.2 Spreading shrub of average density and symmetry. Long new growth and irregularities allow some stems to show. Leaf contour acceptable when the plant is growing happily, on a distressed plant it is terrible with twisted irregular leaves. Dull yellow green leaves. Leaf placement haphazard, and detracts from the appearance of the plant. Three flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 4/3.

Golden Gate 2.6/3.1/3.1 Rather dense, fairly symmetrical rounded shrub. Leaf contour uniform and attractive. Light green leaves. Slightly irregular leaf placement acceptable. Three flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Golden Wit 3.4/3.3/3.7 Somewhat dense, fairly symmetrical rounded shrub. Long new growth reveals some branches. Leaf contour detracts slightly from the plant, with slightly rolled and twisted leaves. Rather shiny dark green leaves. Uniform leaf placement is quite attractive. Three flushes. Summer rating 4. Winter rating 4/4.

Good News 3.0/3.4/3.4 Fairly dense, rather symmetrical rounded shrub. Slightly wavy leaves have an acceptable contour. Dull dark green leaves can become yellowish. Leaf placement acceptable. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Grierosplendour 3.2/3.0/3.0 Open, fairly symmetrical spreading shrub. Sparse branching and narrow leaves reveal its stems. Rolled and twisted leaf contour is horrid. Dull, very yellowish leaves are inclined to be chlorotic. Haphazard leaf placement and leaves of dissimilar size detract from the plant. Two flushes. Summer rating 1. Winter rating 4/4.

Gwen Bell 3.8/3.3/3.5 Open, rather irregular upright plant. Sparse branching allow stems to show. Its slightly wavy, somewhat twisted leaf contour is acceptable. Slightly dull, somewhat yellowish leaves. Rather irregular leaf placement detracts slightly from the plant. Three flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 4/4.

Heart's Desire 3.4/3.4/3.5 Spreading shrub of average density and symmetry. Irregularities and long new growth show some branches. Slightly wavy and twisty leaf contour is acceptable. Somewhat shiny and dark leaves, somewhat haphazard leaf contour adequate. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/5.

Helen Child 3.1/2.7/2.6 Spreading shrub of average density and symmetry. Slightly bowed leaves have an acceptable contour. Dull darkish leaves tend to be chlorotic. Leaf placement acceptable, although leaves tend to be uneven in size. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Hello Dolly 3.1/2.4/2.9 Fairly dense rather symmetrical spreading shrub. Irregularities show some branches. Rolled, twisted leaf contour detracts from plant. Dull medium green leaves can be chlorotic. Hanging old leaves detract from plant. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/3.

Holden 3.1/3.5/3.6 Rather dense somewhat irregular broad shrub. Somewhat wavy and twisty leaf contour is acceptable. Shiny light green leaves are acceptably placed. Four flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Isabel Pierce 3.7/3.2/3.2 Upright open irregular plant shows stiffly ascending branches. Average green but chlorotic crinkly twisted irregularly placed leaves detract from plant. Two flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 5/5, frost burn.

Lem's 121 3.1/1.4/1.6 Open irregular plant of equal height and spread shows trunk due to sparse, stiffly ascending branches. Extremely twisted, crinkled, rolled leaves are haphazardly placed and give plant a disheveled appearance. Three flushes. Summer rating 1. Winter rating 5/5, frost burn, twisted leaves.

Lem's 122 2.5/1.8/2.1 Open upright plant shows stiffly ascending branches. Arched wavy light green leaves detract slightly from plant. Old leaves tend to hang. Two flushes. Summer rating 2.

Lem's 132 2.2/1.9/2.0 Slightly open and irregular rounded plant is sparsely branched. Dull yellowish chlorotic twisted leaves are somewhat irregularly placed and detract somewhat from plant. Two flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 3/3.

Lem's Cameo 4.4/3.1/4.0 Somewhat irregular upright shrub of average density. Long new growth and irregularities show some stems. Leaf contour and placement are acceptable. Three flushes of rather dark green leaves. Bronzy new growth. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Lem's Storm Cloud 3.6/2.6/3.2 Somewhat open and irregular upright shrub that shows stems due to sparse branching. Somewhat wavy and crinkly leaf contour and placement of uneven sizes leaves detract from plant's appearance. Three flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 4/5, twisted leaves.

Margaret Mack 3.7/2.8/2.2 Open, irregular spreading shrub that shows its stems due to sparse branching and long new growth. Extremely twisted leaf contour is very unattractive. Leaves are medium green. Leaf placement adequate. Three flushes. Summer rating 1. Winter rating 4/5.

Markeeta's Flame 3.8/3.7/3.5 Open fairly irregular broad shrub. Irregular growth and long new stem reveal branches. Somewhat wavy and twisted leaf contour adequate. Shiny dark green leaves. Adequate leaf placement. Three flushes. Red young stems are an attractive feature. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 3/4.

Mars 4.0/3.2/3.3 Rounded shrub of average density and symmetry. Slightly twisted leaf contour and somewhat irregular leaf placement acceptable. Average green leaves. Three flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/5.

Mary Belle 2.7/2.6/2.7 Fairly dense but somewhat irregular upright shrub. Irregularities show some stems. Twisted crinkled leaves detract from plant. Dull yellowish leaves. Haphazard leaf placement is quite unattractive. Two flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 4/3.

Mary Briggs 3.4/2.7/3.3 Compact fairly symmetrical spreading plant. Unattractive twisted floppy leaf contour and disheveled leaf placement detract from plant. Dull dark green leaves. Two flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 5/3.

Molly Ann 3.0/3.5/3.9 Fairly dense and symmetrical upright plant shows some branches due to stiffly ascending branches. Puckered leaf contour detracts from plant. Average green leaves prone to leaf spot. Uniform leaf placement an asset. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Mother Greer 3.4/3.6/3.8 Fairly dense and symmetrical spreading plant shows some branches due to irregularities. Acceptable leaf contour and placement are slightly irregular. Average green leaves. Two flushes. Summer rating 3.

Olin O. Dobbs 4.0/3.3/3.3 Rounded shrub of average density and symmetry shows some branches due to long new growth and irregularities. Slightly shiny dark green leaves. Irregular leaf contour and placement detract slightly from plant. Three or four flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/5.

Princess Ann 3.8/3.6/3.9 Very dense symmetrical plant. Slightly yellowish and twisted leaves have acceptable placement and contour. Two flushes. Summer rating 4. Winter rating 5/5, frost burn.

Purple Lace 3.4/2.8/2.8 Open very irregular shrub of equal height and spread shows stems due to irregularities. Slightly puckered and bowed leaf contour slight detraction. Slightly dark green leaves, unattractive haphazard leaf placement. Two flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 5/5.

Queen Mary 3.4/3.1/3.3 Open fairly irregular shrub of equal height and spread shows branches due to sparse branching and long new growth. Slightly wavy leaf contour acceptable as is placement. Rather shiny dark green leaves. Three or four flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 3/3.

Red Olympia 3.2/2.6/3.1 Fairly dense and symmetrical upright shrub. Twisted leaf contour and leaf placement of hanging old leaves detract slightly from plant. Average green leaves. Three flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Red Velvet 2.8/3.0/3.2 Fairly dense and symmetrical spreading shrub shows stems through foliage. Convex leaf contour slightly unattractive. Dull, very hairy, reddish leaves. Disheveled leaf placement unattractive. Four flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/3.

Scintillation 3.3/3.2/3.4 Rounded fairly dense and symmetrical shrub shows branches due to failure to retain old leaves. Floppy, convex leaf contour and placement of leaves of widely differing sizes detract from plant. Average green leaves. One flush. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/4.

Shamrock 3.8/3.6/3.6 Dense fairly symmetrical broad plant. Yellowish leaves with somewhat irregular contour and placement are acceptable but prone to spotting. Three flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Snow Cap 3.0/3.2/3.0 Rounded shrub of average density and symmetry shows stems due to failure to retain old leaves. Slightly twisted leaf contour and leaf placement acceptable. Dull light green leaves. Two flushes, summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/5.

Sugar Pink 4.0/2.6/2.6 Very irregular sparsely foliaged plant of equal height and spread shows all branches due to lack of branching, extreme irregularity, and long new growth. Acceptable leaf contour and placement. Average green leaves. Three flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 4/5.

Sun Goddess 3.2/3.0/3.0 Upright open somewhat irregular shrub shows some stems due to irregularities. Puckered leaf contour and leaf placement are acceptable. Average green leaves tend to be chlorotic. Three flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/5.

Sweet Sixteen 3.4/2.4/2.6 Open, somewhat irregular shrub of equal height and spread shows some branches due to irregularities. Twisted wavy leaf contour and haphazard leaf placement detract from plant. Average green leaves. Three flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 5/5.

Taurus 4.4/4.1/4.0 Fairly dense and symmetrical upright shrub shows some branches due to long new growth. Uniform leaf contour and placement are assets to plant. Dull dark green leaves. Three flushes. Summer rating 4. Winter rating 4/5.

Ted's Orchid Sunset 3.7/2.8/2.3 Open somewhat symmetrical upright shrub shows branches due to sparse, stiffly upright branches. Slightly rolled leaf contour acceptable. Leaves yellowish. Irregular leaf placement detracts from plant. Three flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 4/4.

Trude Webster 3.8/3.4/3.5 Upright slightly irregular plant of average density shows some branches due to sparse branching. Leaf placement and slightly twisty and wavy leaf contour acceptable. Average green leaves. Three flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/5.

Voodoo 2.0/1.8/1.8 Open rather irregular upright shrub shows stems due to irregular, stiffly ascending branches. Slightly puckered, crinkled and deformed leaves detract from plant. Dull chlorotic leaves. Disheveled leaf placement and hanging old leaves unattractive. Two flushes. Summer rating 1. Winter rating 3/3, frost burn.

Wendy 2.8/2.5/3.1 Fairly dense and symmetrical rounded shrub has acceptable leaf contour and placement. Average green leaves have marginal leaf burn. Two flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/5.

Whitney's Orange 3.4/2.6/2.4 Extremely sparse irregular spreading shrub shows stems due to sparse irregular branching. Floppy, rolled, twisted, wavy leaf contour and disheveled leaf placement detract from plant. Dull, chlorotic leaves. Three flushes. Summer rating 1. Winter rating 4/4.

Witch Doctor 3.1/3.2/3.6 Broad fairly symmetrical shrub of average density has acceptable leaf contour and placement. Dull yellowish leaves. Three flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 5/5.

Wizard 3.5/2.5/2.6 Very sparse irregular spreading shrub shows stems due to sparse irregular branching and weak trailing stems. Dull chlorotic leaves. Acceptable leaf contour and placement. Two flushes. Summer rating 2. Winter rating 5/5.

YM-20 2.4/2.8/2.5 Fairly dense symmetrical shrub becomes quite sparse in a few years due to sparse branching and failure to retain old leaves. Leaf placement and somewhat rolled leaf contour acceptable. Two flushes. Summer rating 3.

YM-22 (My Pet) 3.0/4.0/4.0 Very dense symmetrical rounded shrub has very attractive uniform leaf placement and contour. Average green leaves. Two flushes. Summer rating 5. Winter rating 4/4.

Yak x Vulcan 3.6/4.6/4.2 Dense very symmetrical broad shrub with very dark green leaves. Uniform leaf contour an asset to plant. Leaf placement acceptable. Three flushes. Summer rating 5. Winter rating 4/3.

Yaku Angel 3.8/3.7/3.8 Dense very symmetrical broad shrub. Narrow rolled twisted deformed leaves detract from plant. Dull grey indumented leaves. Leaf placement acceptable, old leaves hang down. Four flushes. Summer rating 3. Winter rating 4/4.

Hybrid of the Year - 1989. By vote of the Northwest Hybridizers 'Group, Taurus' was selected the Meerkerk Hybrid of the Year. Taurus' could be counted on to provide the brightest show during its flowering period in mid-April. Its large glowing red flowers outshine any other early red in the garden. 'Taurus' during the rest of the year is a plant of refined appearance, making a nice show of its large dark green leaves, all tidily arranged "just so."

Pat Halligan, ARS Ratings Chairman, prepared this group of articles for ARS Journal publication with editorial assistance and approval by the Northwest Hybridizers' Group (North Section), Seattle Chapter. The Northwest Hybridizers' Group is the authority that runs the Meerkerk hybrid test garden.


Volume 43, Number 3
Summer 1989

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