QBARS - v12n2 Cover Article

Cover Article
Rudolph Henny

The yellow flowered plant on the cover of the April Bulletin of the Society is R. wardii . This plant, now nearly seven feet tall, is one of the fine plants from the Barto garden, that year after year has produced an abundance of bloom and withstood all the coldest winters of this area. Even during the bad winter of 1950 when the temperatures dropped to -15° F. this plant outside of some burned foliage suffered no cutback of growth but did lose all its floral buds. Year after year though it amazes me with its heavy bud set and bloom, and I am often fearful lest this heavy production undermine the vigor and growth of this plant.
The selection of this plant from the Barto Garden in or about the year 1940 was pure chance. It was at that time less than two feet high, and growing near the creek next to a group of large leaf rhododendrons, and was not in flower. A very short distance from this bed of plants and nearer to the creek was a group of plants although different that had been called R. wardii by many visitors. They were the most intense yellow flowered specimens that I had ever seen, the leaf though was narrower, longer and more glaucous on the underside. To my knowledge that group of plants has never been positively identified. H. H. Harms who was building his garden at that time and my brother John naturally purchased quite a group of those fine yellows, but whether they resented moving or their location, all of the group, and I saw many in later years, died a slow death. The plants at best languished a few years, bloomed very rarely, and disappeared. At one of the Society meetings at Portland as recently as three years ago John Bacher brought a single truss of this same plant, it was unmistakable, the same foliage, and intense dandelion yellow color. In a short talk with Mr. Bacher he told me that the plant had never been moved, since it had been planted from the Rock 1932 expedition. It was the first time the plant had bloomed in 21 years. Perhaps these plants at Barto's were of the same origin.
George Grace, former secretary of the Society, imported from England a number of years ago, a plant named R. astrocalyx , an almost identical plant to the plant on the cover, insofar as color, foliage, and form, but differing only in a definite star-shaped calyx, which the Barto plant does not have. A few years ago R. astrocalyx along with R. croceum were allied with R. wardii , and all are now called by the latter name. Perhaps R. croceum and R. astrocalyx by being removed from the scene, since they were both very close to R. wardii , will simplify the nomenclature of this group, yet I thought the name astrocalyx (star calyx) was so fitting and easily diagnostic that I hate to see its passing.