In Memoriam: Vernon F. "Bud" Wyatt
Bud was born May 25, 1900, in Holly, Kitsap County, Wash. He grew up in Holly where his father owned and operated a grocery business. While Bud was in his early 20s, he built several ponds on his father's property to raise water lilies which became a worldwide business. It was during this time that his father bought him his first rhody, 'Pink Pearl'.
Bud built the grocery store in Union, Wash., in 1938 and ran the store until the late '50s. He moved 'Pink Pearl' to Union in 1938 at which time he started raising azaleas from seed and began buying rhodies and started hybridizing them. As his collection grew, he terraced the hill by the store and began selling them. His first attempt at hybridizing with 'Pink Pearl' failed - the one seed pod that developed got broken off.
His crosses registered in England in the International Rhododendron Register are: an azaleodendron 'Hazel Smith', pink with dark blotch, medium tall, and the best specimen Bud has seen is in the Fred Peste garden; 'Mary Briggs', red bell, dwarf, and can be seen in the Mary Briggs Memorial Garden at the Methodist Church, Shelton, Wash., and the Fred Peste garden has an entire row bordering the upper drive; 'Elfin Hill', light pink, low grower, spreads, good plant.
When Bud sold the grocery store, he moved his collection up the hill in Union to his home and operated a nursery from there. Later he moved to his present location on Highway 106 with his collection. His Exbury collection was started with rooted layers shipped from England and bought from Brydon in Oregon, then from sources all over. His only Exbury cross is not registered.
Shelton Chapter members will recall receiving small complimentary Rhododendron oreodoxa plants from Briggs Nursery. Bud got the seeds from Major Howell, Surrey, England. Three grew and the one outstanding plant was propagated by tissue culture by Briggs.
Bud's love of plants was not limited to rhodies and azaleas. He has a vast peony collection, and he considered his daylily collection the best in the state, plus his many fruit trees, one of which has seven varieties of apple that he grafted on it.
Bud joined our club in 1960 as a charter member, and is the first Bronze Medal winner, May 15, 1979, of our Chapter.
Vernon F. "Bud" Wyatt died Feb. 12, 1993.