June in the Trial Garden of The A.R.S. at Crystal Lake Springs Island
Ruth M. Hansen
As the month of June is now half over a scattering of bloom may still be seen at the Test Garden here in Portland, Oregon. Among the larger specimens still in bloom are R. 'Purple Splendor', R. 'Dr. 0'Blok', R. 'A. Bedford' and many of the older varieties. The R. griersonianum and its hybrids such as 'Fabia', 'Fusilier', and 'Tally-Ho' give some fine orange-red color to the garden and both 'Romany Chal' and 'Romany Chai' are splendid. The group of 'Azors' are at their full bloom and make a beautiful color effect among the tall Cedars and Firs.
The most unusual species in bloom at this late date is R. didymum. There are nine old specimen plants of this variety, all about twenty-four inches in height. These plants were grown from seeds of the 1932 Dr. Rock expedition and were given to our Test Garden by Mrs. A. C. U. Berry, Portland's outstanding horticulturist. R. didymum has perhaps the darkest red color, black-crimson to be exact, of any rhododendron. Due to its deep color it is an unusual plant and a novelty to the majority of visitors.
Of the hybrids, the most outstanding of the newer varieties to be in bloom are the 'R. King of Shrubs' P. A. and No. 74, both are of the orange apricot color with large flowers and fine trusses. These plants are in the Trial Area and were entered last year by Mr. Endre Ostbo of Bellevue, Wash.
At the recent Show, Mr. Ostbo exhibited two more of these superb orange hybrids, another No. 74 and Yellow B. After the Show both of these plants were given to the Island to be entered in the Test Area. The No. 74 is quite similar to the 'King of Shrubs' and time will tell which of these plants will receive the "T. G. C." certificate.
Another hybridizer, Mr. Ben F. Lancaster of Camas, Wash. donated four of his fine occidentale hybrids. These plants were seen in Mr. Lancaster's exhibit at our Show and received much favorable comment by all who saw them. One of Mr. Lancaster's crosses, 'Azor' x 'Loderi King George' is now in bloom in the Trial area. The flowers are light pink in color and very attractive.
While speaking of plants recently contributed to the Test Garden, mention must be made of the fine collection of Japanese Maples donated by Mr. Arthur O. Wright of Milwaukie, Ore. When these little plants grow, they will form the finest collection of their type to be found anywhere in the Northwest. Most of these varieties are extremely rare here in the Portland area and will be seen for the first time by future visitors to the Island. As a companion plant for the rhododendrons these maples will give a Fall color to the otherwise somber tones of the coniferous material native to the Test Garden. Also included in Mr. Wright's recent gift were two small plants of the fall-flowering Franklinia, which like the Maples will make its greatest contribution to the Garden by its brilliant Fall foliage. Nor must we overlook the Magnolia stellata and its form of rubra and 'Waterlily'. These three plants, though small will quickly grow and make a beautiful show among the rhododendrons in the next few years.