In Memoriam: Percy H. "Jock" Brydon
Percy Hadden "Jock" Brydon, 83, died April 12 in Salem, Oregon. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and received his horticultural training there before coming to the United States in 1927. He married Edith Findley on August 29th, 1934 in Salem, Oregon.
He worked in Berkeley, California for 10 years (1932 to 1942) at the University of California Botanical Garden, starting as propagator and advancing to manager. He was instrumental in creating the Rhododendron Dell, Japanese Garden, Cacti and Succulent section and exhibits at the Treasure Island World's Fair. Also, during this period, he became active in the start of the California Horticultural Society along with people like Victor Reiter, Roy Hudson, Elizabeth McClintock, Owen Pearce, Coleman Berwick, and many others. He edited their Quarterly Bulletin for several years.
In the late 1940s, a group of men in Portland, Oregon were starting the American Rhododendron Society and Jock was asked to be their first Vice President. Cuttings of new rhododendron hybrids were shipped from England by air for the first time and, to their surprise, many of the plants lived. After growing rhododendrons and azaleas for a short time with John Henny, he started a retail plant nursery and a mail order business in Salem, Oregon specializing in rhododendrons and azaleas.
In 1960 he was invited to become the Director of the Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. This sounded very interesting so he accepted and moved to San Francisco. He had a gift of suggesting ideas to interested people and letting them take the initiative in creating various programs. The Strybing Arboretum Society was started and during the ensuing nine years the following programs were completed: The Redwood Trail, Garden of Fragrance for the blind, Demonstration Gardens (with Sunset Magazine), Docent Guides, Educational classes for elementary teachers who, in turn, taught their students, and many other projects.
In 1969, he retired and purchased 35 acres in the Spring Valley area near Salem, Oregon. Here he had a cherry orchard and in 1971, he was asked to temporarily care for some 2000 plants belonging to the Rhododendron Species Foundation which had to be moved from Eugene, Oregon. These rare plants contained a total of 384 species, subspecies and selected clones. After building a greenhouse and lath house, he enlarged the collection by propagation, new accessions, etc. until 1974 when all were moved to permanent quarters on the Weyerhaeuser Campus in Federal Way, Washington.
In 1971, the California Horticulture Society gave Jock their highest award for Outstanding Contribution to Horticulture in California. Also in 1971, the American Rhododendron Society gave Jock their highest honor, the Gold Medal Award. In 1976, the American Horticulture Society awarded him a Citation for Outstanding Contribution for Professional Horticulture. He was Honorary Member of the Board of Directors for the Rhododendron Species Foundation.
He wrote many articles for various horticultural journals and, with his vast knowledge of ornamental horticulture and keen sense of humor, he was a very popular lecturer.