An Early Spring Report on the A.R.S. Test Garden
by Ruth M. Hansen
Fig. 13. A fine specimen of R. augustinii
usually in bloom during show time at
Crystal Springs Lake Island.
Fig. 14. A planting of R. augustinii in the Trial Garden
at Crystal Springs Lake Island.
Being blessed with a very mild winter there was a great deal of work accomplished in the Test Garden this Spring. Beginning with January the usual crew of volunteer workers began planting the new peninsula. A number of large rhododendrons were "thinned" out from the Test Garden and moved across the bridge to the peninsula, other plants were donated for this specific purpose. Of these were the 100 azalea Mollis hybrids donated by Mr. Arthur Wright. These were all planted in a group on the slope above the main entrance path. Only a small portion of the peninsula will be developed this Spring.
New paths have been constructed by the City Park Department, but the main circulatory system will not be built until next year. The Park Bureau has done extensive clearing and thinning for us which was necessary before any beds could be planted.
By the first week of February there were R. 'Mucronulatum in bloom, a few scattered flowers on some of the Gable and Glendale azaleas and 'Bric-a-brac' and plants of R. moupinense were almost bursting their buds. On February 26th our winter descended in a snow storm followed by violent winds and rain. The winds caused great damage from falling Cedars. The main loss was in the complete destruction of a large specimen plant of 'Mrs. G. W. Leak' about 8 feet high and another equally large specimen which was literally ground to pieces. Following this storm the temperature dropped into the 20 degree range and remained with low nightly readings for about a week. However as the Island is surrounded by water, its warming effects are wonderfully beneficial and none of the plants were affected.
As this article is being written on March 12th there are several varieties in bloom on the Island; lutescens, 'Bric-a-brac', Moupinense, and 'Cornubia', 'Mucronulatum' and 'Praecox' are slightly frost bitten. Sutchuenense is coming into bloom and will be in full bloom in about ten days. Leucaspis and irroratum are almost in bloom.
We have had a number of very fine varieties donated to the Test Garden. Among these is the excellent collection of eastern native azaleas from Mr. S. D. Coleman. These will be added to the existing planting of native azaleas and should give a wonderful opportunity to study the various types of indigenous material. Another outstanding contribution was the specimen R. albiflorum from Mr. Fred Sievers. This plant is native to the Cascade range from British Columbia to Oregon and is found from the 5,000 foot elevation to timber line. An excellent article was written on this plant for the October 1952 Quarterly Bulletin.