Here and There in the Rhododendron Garden
George D. Grace, Portland, Ore.
Twenty-five years ago Rhododendrons were still rather scarce in the average garden. I speak of Portland especially, but I believe it applies to the whole Northwest where Rhododendrons are grown. Yes, there were many fine old specimens in the cemeteries and parks, and there were some nice 'Pink Pearls and 'Alices' and older hybrids among the finer old residences and estates. Portland, Oregon, is known as The Rose City. It could now be known as The Rhododendron City. Where once the lovely old Pink Rose 'Caroline Testout' was grown by the thousands, you now find Rhododendrons by the thousands. It is now hard to find a house where there are no rhododendrons or azaleas. Look at the new subdivisions and see them in bloom everywhere. A modern landscaping would not be complete without them. Look at the landscaping of the new schools, churches, factories, motels, office buildings, and see them in bloom in season. The new Portland Hilton Hotel has a number of Rudolph Henny's hybrids. A large apartment house has many rhododendrons in large tubs which are movable. This all adds up to a fine job the American Rhododendron Society has clone in promoting these plants.
Notes from the Different Chapters
I, for one, would like to see, as part of the A.R.S. Bulletin, notes from any and all Chapters. These short articles or notes could be written by one or many members. They could be mailed in by any individual, or the local Secretary could mail them in to the Editor. Any experience pertaining to culture, bloom, varieties, shows, nurseries and questions would be most interesting reading to members of the other Chapters. It would give a personal touch that we are now missing.
The Display Garden at Crystal Springs
Never have we had such a fine blooming season as 1964. The mild winter, with the exception of a severe late April frost and some hail in spots, produced a show unsurpassed in my memory. The Display Garden has been a fairyland of flowers this spring. The 'Loderis' have been the best that I have ever seen. Due to the mild cool weather they were in fine shape for weeks. One visitor in the Garden was heard to remark that it was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen.
The Rhododendron Show at Seattle
Certainly one of the highlights of the present season was a trip to Seattle to the annual meeting. At a dinner-luncheon, held at the Edgewater Motel in a dining room overlooking Puget Sound, David Leach gave an outstanding lecture and showed slides of different groups of Species Rhododendron. Herbert Ihrig and Ben Lancaster, friends of many years, received the Society's Gold Medal Award. It is nice the Society can recognize and give suitable awards for outstanding contributions.
The show, held in one of the very fine World's Fair Buildings, was delightfully set up, with the nursery exhibits at their best. Leave it to the Seattle nurserymen to put on a great show.
I want to mention the Prentice Nursery for a top performance, with miniature mountain waterfalls covered with moss, evergreens and rhododendrons. The cut truss show was very fine with many new trusses. Don McClure and his assistants are to be congratulated on a job well done.
Knaphill and Exbury Azaleas
While passing out bouquets of things seen during the present season, I cannot help but mention the wonderful display of Azaleas at John Henny's. With President Louis Grothaus of the Portland Chapter we visited his garden at the height of the blooming season. Mr. Henny has for some years conducted a breeding program with the best of the Exbury Azaleas. The results have been truly magnificent. If I were to have a new garden a good portion would be some of these gorgeous Azaleas. In fact it was the finest display I have ever seen.
Changes in the Awards
At the present time the rules are that no awards may be given on a truss alone, only on the full plant. That may be as it should be. The Awards Committee should do something about giving some recognition to superior trusses, especially to new varieties.
For many years the most interesting part of the Portland show has been the display of new hybrid trusses. Recognition might be given in the form of a Truss Award, T. A. or Superior Truss, S. T. As it is, there is no particular reason to bring some of the very fine new hybrid trusses to the show unless there is some recognition.
Of course I'm not in favor of passing out awards unlimited. I do not believe awards should be given hybrids held out of commerce, neither should hybrids be named except they be exceptionally good. I can truthfully say that the Judges in our area were tough on giving awards. The awards given to Rudolph Henny over the years were given on trusses, before the rules were changed. I don't believe that many mistakes were made on awards given to him. Mr. Henny told me, on a number of occasions, that for every award given his rhododendrons many, many trusses were judged.
Some years ago, at the Chelsea Flower Show, the late J. B. Stevenson invited me to sit in on the judging of trusses. The trusses were passed around a long table for each member to examine. 'Coronation Day' received an award that morning. I've always felt the British have done a fine job on awards.
The Portland Chapter has recently lost two of its members Nick Radovich, Charter Member of the A. R. S., died May 16th, and M. Evelyn Higginbotham May 23rd. Mr. Radovich had much to do with my becoming a Rhododendron fan. In the 1930's he told me about many of the species Rhododendrons, such as R. barbatum, R. campylocarpum, R. wardii, R. calophytum , and many more. I drove him to the Barto ranch near Junction City, Oregon, where I became acquainted with the late James E. Barto. I have many plants in my garden blooming every year from that first trip. About nineteen years ago Dean Collins of The Oregon Journal asked me to get him about a dozen plants (Rhododendrons) for 4-H Club prizes at some of the schools. Nick gave four plants and told me to get all that were needed. Mr. Radovich was seventy-nine years old, having come from Yugoslavia. He graduated from the Oregon State Agricultural College in 1926.
Mrs, Higginbotham was the mother of Mrs. Kraxberger, our local Secretary for many years. She was always helping at the shows and meetings. They will always be missed.