QBARS - v13n1 Rhododendron Notes

Rhododendron Notes

Fall is the preferred time with many for moving plants both evergreen and deciduous. Winter rains help establish root systems and plants are better prepared for the heat and drying winds of summer months. But remember to water in any plants you set out or transplant, it's highly important to wash the soil firmly around the roots of any newly moved plant. Winter rains won't do that job for you, so take the nozzle off the hose and flood the plant several times.

When moving plants it's a good idea to work chlordane dust or one of the other soil dusts around the roots. Then scatter a little on top of the entire planting and let winter rains wash it in. You'll kill the weevil and perhaps save yourself later trouble. These soil dusts do a pretty good job of keeping moles out of gardens.

Mulch your newly planted beds. Sawdust, any kind, does a wonderful job here in the west, protecting plant roots in winter and preventing them from drying out in summer. A good mulch also keeps down weeds. But put on enough to do some good, a half inch sprinkled around is useless, put it on from 2" to 4" deep, depending on the size of the plant.

"The Camellia," published by the Leslie Urquhart Press, is advertised in the back of this Bulletin. This book, the first of a series on camellias is a very fine artistic accomplishment as well as being a source of accurate information on a group of our best camellias. The page size is large, 13" x 18" and there are 20 page size full color plates reproduced beautifully from color paintings. A page or more of type is devoted to each camellia giving the synonyms, description of the plants, its history and interesting notes about it.

"Flowers Drawn From Nature," is another book issued by the same publisher. The page size is even larger, 14" x 20" and the color work is beautiful, the finest we have seen in a long while. The reproductions are from paintings originally made by the famous Dutch artist Gerard Van Spaendonck. Short descriptions are given of each flower pictured. This is another worth while book.

While on a vacation trip to the area of San Francisco last month we spent a few hours in Golden Gate Park. Rhododendrons were wonderfully well budded and should put on a beautiful show in the spring. We were told there were over 380 varieties in the area we visited. Here and there we saw a few scattered blooms.

Sausalito, on the shore of the bay, where we stayed, is a most interesting city, formerly a fishing village, it is now a residential district for San Francisco. Lovely homes and gardens perch all over the hill which rises almost straight up from the bay. We noticed a number of fine plantings of rhododendrons and the plants appeared in wonderful condition.
- Bob Bovee

While making up the Index to Vol. 12 of the Bulletin I was impressed by the large number of both species and varieties mentioned in the four issues. A count showed 136 species and 360 varieties, including synonyms. Lists of show winners and lists of plants donated to the Test Garden were not included in the Index so the number of both species and varieties actually printed was somewhat greater. This gives a little indication of the breadth of interest in this country.

We are still plagued with the "group" varieties, and probably will be for years to come, even if names in the future were given only to clones, as most a Tree should be done. But that would not unravel the confusing tangle of groups, already in existence, of several very similar clones broadcast with but a single group name. We can, however, avoid group names in the future, and we can select out the best clone from an existing group, and give it a designation which will set is apart from its sister seedlings.

Some of us on the West Coast were under the impression that the old hardy varieties were all single clones, fairly easily distinguishable. Apparently there are two or more forms of several of these varieties. This does not necessarily mean that a group of sister seedlings was sent out originally under one name, but rather, that over the years, seedlings were grown so closely resembling the original introductions that, accidentally or otherwise, they became mixed with them. Perhaps they were better, but they were not the same, and the mixtures cause endless trouble.

Careful descriptions and color photographs might enable one to positively identify a variety in future years. I would like to see such identification of several of the older varieties now represented by more than one clone. But colors fade, and better varieties are introduced, making such identification less important, and so the problem continues.

Many beginners buy "a Rhododendron" and plant it as a specimen rather than as part of a unified landscape design. It is true that they usually make beautiful specimens, and additional plants may be added to eventually form a nice border planting. The end result would be much more satisfactory if the entire border could be planned as a unit, and either planted as a unit, or over a longer period but following a plan developed for overall effect, as well as to display the beauty of individual varieties.
- J. Harold Clarke