QBARS - v16n4 Progress of the Rhododendron Display Garden (Union County, New Jersey)

Progress of the Rhododendron Display Garden
Union County, New Jersey

The Founders of the Union County Rhododendron Display Garden took pride in hearing the accomplishments of the Rhododendron Committee and the Union County Park Commission for the first year of planting in the garden. With continued interest and support from the many individuals, garden and civic clubs, and nurserymen, an outstanding garden of rhododendron species and hybrids will become a reality within a comparatively short time.
This display garden is a joint project between a committee of garden enthusiasts, members of the New Jersey Chapter, ARS, residing in Union County, and the Union County Park Commission. By an agreement on March 15, 1960, the committee shall promote interest in the garden, solicit funds for/or plant material, and design the garden; the commission shall provide the site, plant and maintain the garden. The garden shall be open to the public at all times without cost.
The site of the garden is in the heart of the beautiful Watchung Reservation, located on a northern slope on the eastern side of Surprise Lake. The rhododendron, planted on both sides of Tracy Drive, are backed by deciduous trees and interspersed by coniferous trees. The development of the garden will continue into clearings in the woodland areas.
The first plants placed in the garden were some very fine unnamed hybrids of about 30 years of age which were grown and contributed by John Winner of Summit. Mr. Wisner, a former neighbor of the late Charles O. Dexter, had received the seed from him. This first planting was done on October 10, 1960. Planting continued early in April, 1961, when 35 mucronulatum were planted to herald spring. Other varieties followed rapidly during the latter part of April and early May. Those varieties planted in the spring of 1961 are listed with an *, the other varieties planned for planting in the spring of 1962.
Of these plants, 88 varieties, mostly 5 of a kind, were planted in the garden; and an additional 21 varieties were planted in a nursery area. In addition, 28 varieties of azaleas, mostly 10 of a kind, and 9 varieties of flowering trees, were also planted.
Of these rhododendrons, 389 were purchased for $1783; while 392, conservatively valued at $2210, were donated to the garden and nursery. Azaleas purchased were 147 at a cost of $322; while 77 donated ones were valued at $268. Other flowering trees donated were 48 each at a value of $162. Transportation costs of $110, bring the value of plant material delivered to the Display Garden, as of the annual report of December 31, 1961, to a total of $4857.
To help promote interest in the garden, a small brochure which describes the project briefly and lists the varieties of rhododendron planted, was distributed in the spring. Also, included in the brochure, was the much needed and appreciated information on proper planting and care of rhododendron. This cultural material was much appreciated by gardeners in general and by the garden clubs in particular.
The 'Book of Founders' was presented at the Second Annual Meeting for Founders held on March 18, 1962, as a permanent record of those farseeing individuals and groups whose interest in the Rhododendron Display Garden was substantiated by contributions of funds or plant material. The fine friends are listed in the following groupings:

  1. Founders, individual.
  2. Founders, Garden Clubs and Garden Departments.
  3. Other contributors.
  4. Sponsors-1961.

Additions for sponsors of each calendar year will follow. The book itself, size 11"x 14", is leather covered in rich dark green, with pages individually encased in cellophane. hollowing the title page, a beautiful water color rendition of the Display Garden, painted by Robert Anderson, covers a full page. We are greatly indebted to him for his contribution to the book, and equally indebted to those fine friends who lettered the entire contents of this book.
Plans for the spring of 1962 include the Fourth Annual Rhododendron Exhibit of Cut Trusses by the New Jersey Chapter. They are being very ably assisted by the Spadenhoe Garden Club of Cranford who are assuming the responsibility of staging and floral arrangements. It will again be held in the auditorium of Trailside Museum, Watchung Reservation. The dates are May 19 and 20, Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 P.M. Cut trusses maybe entered for exhibit during Saturday morning between 9:00 A.M. and Noon. Members and friends are invited to exhibit any trusses from plants which have been growing outdoors during the past winter.
The following Monday, May 21 will be Garden Club Day for add garden clubs of the county and surrounding area. As guests of the Rhododendron Committee and the Park Commission, a full day of horticultural interest is offered. The program includes a guided tour of the Display Garden by a member of the society: the exhibit of cut trusses at the museum: a guided tour of the park nursery by a member of the park staff: and a nature walk by Dr. Harold M. Moldencke. An opportunity to enjoy the facilities of the park system for a club picnic will also be included.

Cultural Suggestions for the Home Gardener

Rhododendrons - and azaleas, - are among our most rewarding garden shrubs and can be the least demanding if properly planted. Following these few simple requirements will reward you with years of care free pleasure.

  1. SOIL ACIDITY. The soil must he acid and while soil in this area is naturally acid, it has sometimes been made otherwise through the use of lime. If in doubt, the necessary acidity can be had by a light dusting over the surface of the soil with powdered sulphur-do not use aluminum sulphate.
  2. SOIL TEXTURE. An open, loose soil allows the fine, hair-like roots to grow easily through an aerated soil. This condition can be obtained by incorporating generous amounts of organic matter. Acid peat is an excellent material to use for this purpose and will also provide the proper acidity.
  3. SOIL DRAINAGE. These plants will not tolerate wet feet. If there is not a natural slope, elevate the planting bed so that it is a minimum of four inches above the surrounding area.
  4. PLANTING. It is very important that the roots of the plant be at the surface of the ground in order that they may easily obtain the air which they need to grow properly. Burying the root ball or planting deeper than the plant had previously grown will kill or stunt the plant.

  5. MULCH. Because the fine, hair-like roots must have air, they grow very near the surface of the ground. This makes them very susceptible to the hazards of hot summer sun and the cold freezing winters. A proper mulch of oak leaves, pine needles, wood chips, or other open, loose organic matter protects the plant from drying out, either summer or winter. Also, the decaying mulch gives them add the nutrients they need. Never cultivate. With a mulch, you will never need to weed.
  6. WIND PROTECTION. A natural windbreak from other evergreen material adds to the beauty of rhododendrons as well as to their protection from strong winter winds. The protection from winter sun is advantageous and for the more tender varieties it is a necessity. A protected north side of a building is a more desirable location with any variety, but the only location where some of the less hardy varieties can be grown.
  7. FERTILIZER. It is very difficult to properly select and apply fertilizer. Considerable damage can result from improper fertilization. Moreover, there is a difference of opinion about the advantage from using fertilizer. There is general agreement that cottonseed meal is adequate and safe and should be applied in early spring.

The following varieties of rhododendron are listed in groups which indicate their ability to endure adverse conditions such as extreme winter cold: exposed, windy locations: early fall frost: poor air drainage, or full sun.  These groupings have been compiled as a result of extensive surveys from many growers in this area.

GROUP I: The most hardy
*'Album Elegans' white
*'Boule de Neige' white
*'Caractacus' purple red
*carolinianum white to pink
*carolinianum album white
'Catawbiense' rosy pink
*'C atawbiense Album' white
'Catawbiense Boursalt' magenta
'Charles Dickens' red
*'Everestianum' rosy lilac
'Kettledrum' red
maximum white to pink
minus rosy pink
*'Mrs. C. S. Sargent' rosy pink
*mucronulatum rosy purple
*mucronulatum , selected form pink
'President Lincoln' mauve
'Purpureum Elegans' blue purple
*'Purpureum Grandiflorum' purple
*'Windbeam' light rose
GROUP II: Quite hardy and generally satisfactory for all but the most exposed locations.
*'Albert Close' rose pink
'Album Novum' white
*'America' red
'Amphion' rosy pink, light center
*Atrier #10 scarlet
*'Atrosanguineum' red
*'Bagshot Ruby' red
'Blue Diamond' blue
*'Blue Peter' lavender, dark blotch
'Brookville' pink
*'Cadis' fragrant pink
*'Candidissimum' white
*'Caroline' fragrant, pale lavender
*'Catalode' white
*'Catawbiense Grandiflorum' lilac
*'Charles Bagley' cherry red
'Chionoides' white
*'Conewago' lilac pink
*'Cunningham's White' white
'Delicatissimum' white
*Dexter #9 peach
*'Direktor E. Hjelm' rose
*'Disca' white
*'Dr. H. C. Dresselhuys' red
*'Dr. Rutgers' red
* fortunei fragrant, pale pink to lilac
*Gable's Pink #2 pink
* giganteum lilac red
*'Gloxineum' dusty pink
'Goldsworth Yellow' yellow
*'Gomer Waterer' blush white
*Guyencourt Hybrids white-pinkcream
*'H. H. Hunnewell' purple red
*'gnatius Sargent' light red
*'Independence Day' red
'Joseph Martyr' light pink, yellow blotch
keiskei yellow
*'Lady Armstrong' carmine
*'Lady Eleanor Cathcart' pink
*'Madame Carvallo' white
*'Marquis of Waterford' purple red light center
maximum pink-white
* maximum roseum pink
*'Mrs. R. S. Holford' rose salmon
'Mrs. W. R. Coe' pink
'Nova Zembla' red
*'Parson's Gloriosum' pink illac
'Parson's Grandiflorum' rosy purple
*'Pioneer' phlox pink
racemosum pink
*'Ramapo' violet
*'Rochelle' pink
*'Roseum Elegans' rosy pink
*'Roseum Superbum' light rose
'Roslyn' lavender
'Scintillation' pink
*'Van der Hoop' real
*'Van Weerdon Poelman' red
*'Westbury' pink
'Wheatley' pink
*'Wilsoni' pink
'Wyanokie' white
GROUP III: Somewhat less hardy and need to be   grown in protected locations.
*'Cynthia' rosy red
*'E. S. Rand' red
'Essex Scarlet' scarlet
*'Fastuosum Flore Pleno' lavender
'F. D. Godman' red
*'John Walter' red
'Kate Waterer' pink
Lady Annette de Trafford' white dark center
'Lady Clermont' red
*'Lady Clementine Mitford' pink
*'Lord Roberts' red
'Madame de Bruin' cerise
*'Madame Masson' white, yellow blotch
'Mars' red
'Naomi' pink
'Old Port' wine red
'Pink Perfection' pink
*'Princess Elizabeth' red
*'Professor F. Bettex' red
*'Purple Splendour' purple
'Queen Mary' rosy pink
*'Romany Chai' red
*'Sappho' white, purple blotch
'Stanley Davies' red
*'Trilby' red
*'Vulcan' brick red

* These varieties in the Display Garden Spring 1961.

The garden will be for the education and pleasure of the general public. The garden is designed to show the full beauty of rhododendrons in their many varieties and will incorporate companion plants to more fully beautify the garden. Plants will be labeled and recorded for either casual observation or more serious Study of this superb plant family.
The Union County Park Commission will plant and maintain this garden. Their performance in other park areas has proven their exceptional ability and reliability in this respect.
The Union County Rhododendron Committee will promote public interest: solicit contributions for the purchase of plant material: and will select the plants and design the garden. The garden has been planned as the most complete collection of rhododendron in the northeastern United States. The cost of plant material is estimated to be $25,000 for 5000 plants. Many individuals and clubs have indicated their interest in this project by becoming Founders of this garden.