QBARS - v14n3 Rhododendron Notes

Rhododendron Notes

Congratulations to the Great Lakes Chapter for a very successful first Show held in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland is a flower conscious city, and this Show should do much to increase the standing of the rhododendron in that city.

Several other Chapter Shows were up to their usual standard, or above. Some will no doubt be reported in the Bulletin in greater detail. The writer had the privilege of seeing the Second Annual Show of the Olympic Peninsula Chapter. This was small and noncompetitive, but the quality of the blooms was very good. The display was well arranged and created a lot of interest. This Chapter is quite small but the group is interested and active.

The average quality of new American hybrids being presented for awards, or shown in classes for new hybrids, is reaching very high standards. It is astonishing how many people have been making crosses and raising a few rhododendron seedlings on their own. Many of these have not received any publicity, but interesting new varieties will be forthcoming in the near future.

The granting of a P. A. indicates that, so far as the flower is concerned, a new variety has a great deal of merit. Those who have been growing rhododendrons for some time will realize that the plant characters may be just as important, or more so, than the flower characters. All of the varieties which have received P. A.'s should be re-examined from time to time to see which, if any, are worthy of an A. E. This latter award, of course, is based on the entire plant, and should not be given unless both flower and plant characters are exceptionally fine.

Much work has already been clone in planning for the International Rhododendron Conference to be held in Portland next May. A Tentative Program is presented in this issue. By "tentative," of course, is meant that those listed have indicated that they will plan to be here if at all possible, but there is always a chance that something may intervene to prevent them from coming. A leaflet carrying the Tentative Program, revised to that date, will appear early in September. This will carry other information about the Conference, together with reservation blanks. It will be sent to all members of the Society, probably with the October Bulletin.

We have experienced several frosts this spring which, while not causing widespread damage, have injured certain varieties. It is interesting how a variety seems to be especially susceptible during a period of just a few days. If the frost occurs earlier or later, the damage will not be nearly so great. Quite often we see a variety, which is supposed to be relatively hardy, damaged when varieties considered to be more tender are not damaged. It should be remembered, of course, that the hardiness ratings refer to minimum temperatures which the plant will withstand during the winter when fully mature. The frost damage just mentioned occurred in the spring after growth had started. It usually shows up as killing of expanded leaf buds or splitting of the bark just above the ground. Fairly hardy varieties may show such damage if the frost occurs just at the critical time.

It is urged that breeders register new names as early as possible. It may be embarrassing to name a variety, perhaps for some person, only to find later that the name has some technical fault which means it should not be used. Actually, names should be registered before they are used to any extent. The purpose of registration is to avoid confusion and protect the public against names which may be misleading in any way. Early registration will help to achieve those ends.
- J. Harold Clarke, Long Beach, Washington

A wonderful red species from the Dr. Rock seed bloomed this spring for the first time. It has been identified as R. agapetum in the Irroratum series, given four stars by the R. H. S. We have not heard of its blooming before in the northwest. Flowers of very heavy substance, a deep glistening orange-red, tubular campanulate, each flower 2 1/4" long and 14 in a truss. The plant has good growth habits with handsome dark green leaves. It is listed as "F" in hardiness, probably tender for the northwest, but it should be fine in the milder states.

"Rhododendrons," (title not yet decided upon) which is now being prepared will be a 250 page book and we hope to have it ready for distribution in May 1962. While most of the photographs and all the writing and other work is donated, the printing costs a considerable sum of money. The Society needs the help of the members in financing the book. Your order, now, for the new book with your check for $5.50 will help. And, you save money for the price of the book after publication will be $6.95.

It is disconcerting to say the least to nurse and tend with loving care a garden full of rhododendrons and then to have a large number fail to bloom because, of all things, the winter had been too mild.
Shown here is a list of the plants that failed us because of bud blasting. The blasting by plants ran from 30 to 1007 of the buds.





'J. H. Van Ness'


'Jean Marie de Montague'


'King of Shrubs,


'George Ritter'

'Earl of Athlone'


'A. Bedford'

'Oregon Queen'

'Countess of Athlone'

'Betty Robertson'

This amounted to 11 out of 65 different Hybrids in the garden but only 4 of 57 Species noticeably effected.
We are located at about 100 feet elevation in Oakland, California. In examining the weather conditions we find that in all of 1959 the thermometer never went below freezing. The coldest days were in November with a minimum of 39 degrees, maximum 80 degrees. December minimum 34 degrees, maximum 70 degrees. This was an abnormally warm winter.
The buds started swelling on all of the plants affected in November and December. In January of 1960 the lowest reading was 29 degrees, February 36 degrees, March 38 degrees and April 40 degrees. It appears that the damage was probably done with a 29 degree reading on January 2nd. This small freeze following the abnormally warm November and December period in 1959 without any cold nights. As a matter of information the lowest temperature on record in this area was 23 degrees in December 1930.
Plants in lath houses or in protected places were not affected. Also interesting was the conditions in gardens at 600 feet to 1000 feet elevation. They did not experience the high temperature levels prevailing in November and December. They were cooler by several degrees which prevented premature bud growth and the following cold of January (about 27 degrees) (lid not affect them extensively. Being cooler these gardens at the relatively higher levels and within a mile or so from our location are two or three weeks later in their normal spring bloom than the plants in our garden.
Government climatology maps show a uniform temperature lapse rate of about 2½ degrees for each 500 feet of altitude. This is often increased by topographical conditions. Another interesting condition is that, due to "Temperature Inversion" in summer (the cause of smog) which occurs intermittently and for varying periods of time, the temperature in the Oakland area increases several degrees in the first 1000 feet or so, the reverse of winter conditions.
This past winter: 'Elizabeth', 'A. Bedford' and 'Countess of Athlone' bloomed intermittently all winter showing small and deformed flowers. 'Jean Marie de Montague' has failed to bloom for three years. It will have a few blooms on the lower protected buds but a complete failure on top. 'Elizabeth' the form commonly available to the amateur in California bloomed with inferior flowers all winter and had few buds left for the normal blooming period.
This climatic condition suggests that we may have to be more selective in our plantings in these warmer locations.
This list may be of some value to growers who are looking for plants that will respond to forcing.
- E. H. Long, Oakland, Calif.

The Seattle Chapter tried an experiment this year at its Rhododendron Show that was so successful we thought other chapters might like to hear of it.
The fact that cut trusses do not stand up well has always been a problem, so we borrowed a trick from floral arrangement art. An instruction sheet was sent to all members, asking them to cut their trusses the evening before entry, pound the stem ends with a rock or hammer to allow more surface for the absorption of water, stand them in water overnight in a cool place and transport them to the show in water contained in olive jars, pop bottles, etc.
The Society cooperated wonderfully and the result was the freshest looking truss section we have had at the time of judging. We were unfortunate in having a cold wind, however, that could not be entirely controlled in an outdoor pavilion, so many of the trusses were damaged in that way and did not hold up for the entire three days.
An added benefit of the conditioning of trusses was elimination of the last minute rush that previously swamped the Receiving and Classification Committee.
As a postscript of the foregoing, we noticed while making some flower arrangements of rhododendrons that stems with old wood on them stood up longer than those with the green wood of the previous year's growth. We understand that there is no set show rule for length of stem, but if such a standard is ever set a test might be conducted to determine whether inclusion of some old wood is a decided advantage.
- Ruth Jacobson, Seattle, Wash.

On May 11th, twenty-five members of the Philadelphia Chapter gathered at Mr. Joseph Gable's, to see his rhododendrons in bloom. Large plants of R. fortunei in the woods were deliciously fragrant. As always, it was a treat to walk through the woods, amidst rhododendrons in flower, under tall oaks, and listen to Mr. Gable's comments on his plants.

Preceding our informal flower show, members of our Chapter took the opportunity to visit the grounds of Morris Arboretum. In addition to a large collection in the azalea meadow and Dexters among the rhododendrons, there is a fine collection of native azaleas in the Arboretum, which is one of the American Rhododendron Society official test gardens.

On May 12th the Philadelphia Chapter held its first cut truss show. Not an official show, it was designed to see what we could produce in bloom-and 58 entries, in azalea and rhododendron classes, were a good beginning for other shows to follow. Dr. and Mrs. Wister brought a beautiful collection of trusses from Swarthmore for us to see. The flowers were tremendous. Gable hybrids, and some of the newer hybrids from the West Coast were also represented in the show.

May 14th found a representative group of Chapter members at Tyler Arboretum. Dr. and Mrs. Wister, and Mr. Fenninger showed us the plantings. Many Dexters are there, and a great many small rhododendrons have come there in the past year from Swarthmore.

One tree that will never outgrow my garden is the Jervis Hemlock-a tiny three-year-old, two inches tall. Mr. Guy Nearing estimates that the mature tree from which the cuttings are being made, is approximately 150 years old. It is 6 ft. tall.
- Betsi Kelius, Philadelphia, Pa.