The color illustration on the cover of the Quarterly Bulletin of the American Rhododendron Society for October is R. 'Azor'. The true variety of this plant blooms in the later week of June and in cool seasons (1953 and 1954) has bloomed well into the month of July.
It is rare for a small plant of R. 'Azor' to set even a single floral bud, and this important fact along with late season bloom has made it less sought after than many varieties that are truly inferior. Nurserymen and propagators, ever alert to the gardener's wants are more apt to stock varieties that bloom in the height of the rhododendron season, and set flower buds as small plants. Gardening should exclude the hurried rush carried on in the daily competitive effort, but a waiting period of a season or two for the first bloom is not taken kindly by an impatient purchaser. R. 'Azor' along with another fine plant R. 'Gill's Crimson'. has hit a low mark with propagators, for each plant has similar characteristics, i.e. reluctance to flower as small plants, and blooming periods somewhat removed from the center. R. 'Gill's Crimson' blooming early rather than late as does R. 'Azor' is not caught up in mid season demand, summarily their popularity has lapsed considerably.
In the above paragraph I made mention of the phrase "true R. 'Azor'" whose parents of course are R. griersonianum x R. discolor. I must also mention the several types of clones and seedlings arranged under the name of R. 'Azor' that are in many gardens here on the west coast.* I would like to add the following information to that which I had written some years ago, the aforesaid facts having been given me quite recently by a fancier who was quite interested, and they are the following: One group of plants quite widely circulated during the war years in the Portland area is in reality R. 'Azma' (R. griersonianum x R. fortunei) both plants look very much alike, and could be mistaken by the casual observer, but not by the interested gardener for R. 'Azma' blooms two weeks earlier. The other group, not nearly so common or widely disseminated is the result of griersonianum x discolor x 'Nereid'. I have examined a plant of this cross and find the bloom very much like R. 'Azor', the foliage needless to say betrays its identity. This cross also produced what was fantastically called. a "yellow R. 'Azor'". One rarely ever hears of it today, but occasionally, it is mentioned as having been purchased more than ten years ago.
Many large plants of R. 'Azor' are growing in gardens on the Pacific Coast, and give good accounts of themselves year after year when most of the other rhododendrons are out of flower. The plant will assume large proportions and if not too heavily cropped when young will assume the shape of a small tree. The ultimate height of the plant will be somewhat under ten feet, with a tendency to grow upright rather than spread. I must assuage the above statement somewhat by adding that here again it depends on which variety of R. 'Azor' a person is speaking of, for I am reasonably sure that very few specimens in this country are parts of the award plant and most are seedlings. The other types mentioned i.e. not R. griersonianum x R. discolor should never have been named R. 'Azor', and are a misnomer.
The group of R. 'Azor' in the Trial Garden at Crystal Springs Lake Island are for the most part of one variety, and after having seen the group in bloom this past season I am reasonably sure that these plants are clones of the variety imported some sixteen years ago from England.
R. 'Azor' has funnel-shaped bloom nearly four inches across and of a light salmon color. The plant withstood fifteen below zero in 1950, though the floral buds were lost, along with some damage to foliage. The color plate was loaned to the Society by P. H. Brydon.
* A Rhododendron Garden, by Rudolph Henny. A. R. S. Bulletin Vol. 3, No. 2, 1949, page 18.