QBARS - v16n2 Rhododendron Notes

Rhododendron Notes
J. Harold Clarke

The Seattle Chapter is going all out to stage a show that will be a credit to this area and to the co-sponsor, the American Rhododendron Society, May 17-20, on the lower level of the Opera House at the Century 21 World's Fair. We hope to see many out-of-state members at the show.

Please give us a boost, fellow chapters, by recommending the show to friends who plan to attend the fair at that time. Show hours are noon to 10:00 P.M. the opening day and 10:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. on subsequent days.

Garden enthusiasts cannot escape that inevitable subject, the weather. We see our favorite plants bloom all too few times in our short life times and the number of times is further diminished by untimely icy fingers.

This year there was first a late January frost. Rhododendron moupinense received some fir boughs and bloomed without a blemish, a true jewel. Rhododendron 'Tessa' managed a brave show before record-breaking cold and snow in February-March destroyed buds, not only on the hardy R. 'Rosa Mundi' but also on plants that were weeks away from blooming. One person reported dead buds on R. 'Unique' in the Summer area. Between these cold thrusts we had experienced unseasonable warmth.

- Ruth Jacobson, Seattle

We may not be able to grow some of the more tender rhododendrons in the East, that the West Coast showed us last Spring so beautifully, but I challenge anyone to show more enthusiasm than the Philadelphia Chapter. At our March meeting, it was asked if we were to have a flower show of our own, in addition to the Annual Meeting-and beyond that, if we would have our regular May meeting-yes to both!

- Betsi Kelius, Philadelphia

In parts of the Northwest there was considerable winter injury to flower buds, and in some cases to leaves and wood. In our area the injury was mostly from a late winter freeze, after some weeks of fairly mild weather. Some varieties were injured which had withstood much colder temperatures during December without injury. A. R. S. hardiness ratings are based on the temperature which a plant will withstand, with no visible injury, during midwinter while the plant is dormant. It is well known that, as the season progresses, a few days of warm weather will cause plants to become more and more tender. Each such winter adds to our knowledge of hardiness.

It is gratifying to see the number of new varieties being registered. It is a measure of the harvest from many years of effort by the breeders. Nearly every list of names sent in contains one or more which have already been given to a rhododendron or azalea by someone else, which indicates that registration is accomplishing something worth while, and breeders are saved the embarrassment of finding out later that they are using a name already pre-empted by someone else.

At the last meeting of the Board of Directors of A.R.S. it was voted to discontinue the requirement that only one gold medal be awarded in any one year. However, the requirement still stands that the first step in the awarding of a medal is a formal request from a chapter or chapters, accompanied by statements outlining the qualifications of the person proposed for the highest honor which the Society can bestow. This request is then referred to the Honors Committee which will study the request, possibly ask for more information, and will later refer the matter to the Board with recommendations.

The finding of competent judges at Show time is always a problem. The A.R.S. has operated on the general assumption that competence in this field is based on years of acquaintance with rhododendrons and their culture rather than on training in a judges' school. Training in a judges' school may be especially useful for competence in judging "arrangement" classes and Chapters often have a different set of judges for such classes, as distinct from the "straight" cut truss classes.