QBARS - v10n2 Azalea schlippenbachii

Azalea Schlippenbachii
By Edward O. Birch, Short Hills, N. J.

Planting of R. schlippenbachii
Fig. 17.  A planting of R. schlippenbachii in the garden of Edward Birch, Short Hills, N.J.

The Quarterly Bulletin of the Society for January contained an article by the editor, "An Unseasonable Freeze," and it again brought to mind the hardiness of R. schlippenbachii which I have been growing as a hobby since 1928. I started the plants from seed which I obtained from Korea, and they have proved to be the toughest and most satisfactory plants in my garden. The seeds were planted in the open and the seedlings have never received any protection. During the past 28 years they have been much watered, and up to five years of age they received an annual feeding of cotton seed meal. Since that time they have been permanently planted in my garden and have received very little care and no feeding.
The large plants shown in the enclosed photo (Fig. 17) are growing amongst a thick undergrowth of pachysandra which has found its way into the bed from the border. We first thought it might be necessary to take out the pachysandra . After watching the growth of the plants carefully we found it did not affect the growth of the R. schlippenbachii so we have left it remain.
The photograph shown was taken about eight years ago but the plants are much larger now some even up to ten or twelve feet, and only shows the two sides, the other sides of the complete border are not shown. The trunks of the plants are now mostly over six inches in diameter, and are growing into trees. Had I known at the time of planting that they would grow to such proportions I would have planted them to better advantage. At the time I planted them various growers of azaleas and rhododendrons told me that I could not expect them to grow more than six feet in height. All who have seen them are surprised, and wonder if I have an exceptional strain. Curators of botanical gardens in the East who have seen R. schlippenbachii in many gardens state these plants are the best in the entire country. Year after year they are surprised and astounded at the growth of these plants. I have many other azaleas new and old but to me R. schlippenbachii is my favorite. Every spring there is the same profuse bloom and it never fails, hard winter or mild. In 1934 we had three weeks of continued -20° F. and even that year there was no change in the bloom. Since I have no glass protection the seedlings from these plants must take it the same way, since I am only interested in hardy plants. The way it appears now R. schlippenbachii will go on beyond the planter's life.
Plants have been grown from seed from these bushes in Canada, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and in the coldest sections with the same results.