A. M. Shammarello, South Euclid, Ohio
In reading Mr. Nearing's recent article, I was much surprised to learn that it is a contradiction of his previous experiences, that I should have had such extraordinary seedlings from crosses of our complicated catawbiense hybrids.I want to assure interested persons the intention was not boastful.
In correspondence with Mr. Leach, I only gave a fair praise of the quality of the seedlings as "beyond my expectations." I believe the same results will repeat themselves, I do not think a miracle or accident has occurred. I have made some of these same crosses and they will be in bloom in a season or two and will have more to say pro or con at the time. The 5% of the plants which I believe are superior than either parents, are plants that have either better foliage or character of growth.
In my opinion, there is no doubt that many seedlings are superior to our named catawbiense hybrid parents. However, did not find a place on the top of the list due to the fact, as Mr. Nearing pointed out, that propagation is so slow, unlike azaleas. The sad part is that most nurserymen lose interest in a plant which takes a lifetime to accumulate enough stock to propagate from and therefore so little is done with our rhododendron seedlings. I believe that if a seedling is slightly superior than its parents, it is a pity that it does not take its place, irrespective of the fact, that later, another seedling is an improvement. The best is what we all strive for.
I am a nurseryman not a geneticist and as you anticipate, you shall not find the plant of the century at my place. However, you may see some fine hybrids and also some seedlings of R. 'Boule de Neige', R. 'Cunningham's White' crossed with red hybrids, producing pink and red seedlings that seem promising to me. I wish to extend an invitation to Mr. Nearing and to other interested persons to visit my nursery when my rhododendron fields are in bloom. I shall be honored by their presence. Seeing is believing and writing further would be futile.