In Memoriam: James A. Elliott
James A. (Jim) Elliott, one of our pioneer rhododendron hybridizers, passed away at his home in Knappa, Ore., in October 1995. He was a second generation dairy farmer who faced a serious decision in about 1968 when he had to choose whether to remain a diary farmer or to sell the herd and establish a rhododendron nursery. With the support of his wife, Eleanore, rhododendrons won the battle. He was free to follow the consuming hobby of creating new hybrid rhododendrons as well.
His great friendship with Halfdan Lem, another rhododendron hybridizing pioneer, fostered that interest, both by letter and by visits to the Lem Nursery in Seattle. Jim Elliott was one of the most critical of people in his evaluation of his own work and in the selection of parent plants to suit his requirements. Rhododendron 'Naselle' is one of his last registrations and it might be argued his finest new hybrid. He won many top awards at shows.
Hunting, fishing, trapping and birds were interests as well, particularly in his earlier years. He was an artist doing his woodworking - a man of many talents.
When Jim and Eleanore closed the nursery to retail trade, he wrote, "We treasure the meeting of many fine people and the lasting friendships we made while in the retail business." Many of us will miss his wry and ready sense of humor. Near the entrance to his garden, not far from their house, stands an attractive sign: "Old Gardeners Never Die. They Just Lose Their Bloomers!"