Address of Mr. Peter Barber
At The American Rhododendron Society's
Tacoma, Washington, May 13, 1966
We are greatly indebted to Mr. Orris Thompson for taping this and other talks at the Annual Meeting and to Mrs. Robert Badger for transcribing them. - Ed.
Mr. Russel Coovert presiding-"When I bought the first rhododendron for our place, I got hold of a book. Of course you know what happens from then on. You go slightly mad; but the name Exbury has been magic to me. I have felt for many years that one of the prime ambitions of my life would be to see the Exbury Estate and the next one would be to meet Major Peter Barber and be able to discuss with him what he is doing there. I want to thank The American Rhododendron Society for making at least one of these things come true for me. Major Peter Barber!"
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since I arrived in Washington I have continually been thanked for coming over to join your conference. I think it is quite wrong. It is I who should thank you for having asked me to come. I always take every possible opportunity to visit the United States. I think it truly remarkable that I can fly 7,000 miles away from home and suddenly find myself amongst so many friends whom I've met both here, and on so many previous occasions in England; it is truly I who should thank you for having me here.
I was asked to speak to you tonight on the history of Exbury and the Exbury Rhododendrons, but in the last two days since my arrival, I've been asked so many questions, the answers to which I thought most of you knew, but there still seems to be quite a lot of confusion, not only on Exbury plants, but on Exbury itself and what goes on there, so I'm really going to take this opportunity to put the record straight on some of these questions. It may be some of you don't know any thing of the past history of Exbury so perhaps I should quickly locate it for you and tell you how it came to be what it is today.
The Exbury Estate
It is in a very sheltered part of Southern England. Our climate is much the same as yours here except that our extremes of temperature are never quite so cold or hot. Of course, we sometimes get exceptional periods of weather but fortunately these are few and far between and no great damage is ever done.
Lionel de Rothschild purchased the Estate in 1922, and he planted this very large garden in the years between the wars. I don't propose to dwell on that part of it very much. I think that it will be of more interest to bring you up to date and talk to you about Exbury during the postwar period and explain what we are attempting to do at the present time.
Someone asked me today whether Exbury belonged to the National Trust. It doesn't - and I think a number of you have quite the wrong idea about the National Trust in England.
The National Trust has very little money and financially is unable to accept any property without sufficient money being given with the property in the form of an endowment which would be sufficient for the necessary upkeep and preservation of the gift. Major de Rothschild did, shortly after the war, consider the possibility of handing the house and garden over to the National Trust but he decided that if it were at all possible it would be so much better if Exbury could be self-supporting and earn its living from the land itself. This is the decision he took.
The Estate comprises some 3,000 acres, 1,200 acres of farmland, nearly a thousand acres of forestry and the rest is the Garden and amenity acres.
Pheasant shooting plays an important role in the activities, as Donald Graham here will bear witness, as he all too infrequently visits Exbury and helps us to kill some of the birds. We have our own game farm and sell young birds to other private estates.
However, the biggest and most important part of the operations is, of course, the garden. So it was decided that not immediately after the war, but about 1950, we should try and develop the growing of plants commercially. Probably a lot of people just think that the garden is there and we occasionally sell an odd plant to anyone who might ask for it. This is not the case; we are probably the largest growers of rhododendrons, azaleas and allied plants in the country. At the present time we have something like a quarter of a million rhododendrons of all types growing in the nurseries. Also something in the region of one hundred thousand camellias, in all sizes. Evergreen and deciduous azaleas are grown in like numbers and many other flowering trees and shrubs. I tell you this because I want you to understand that it is a serious operation and that it is going successfully and we think that it will enable the owner to keep Exbury, not only in Edmund de Rothschild's lifetime, but for his heirs if they wish to carry on with it, which I'm sure they will.
Book to be Published
The story of Exbury in full detail will shortly be told in a book that has been written by C. E. Lucas-Phillips in collaboration with myself. Brigadier Lucas-Phillips is an established author who has written mainly on military operations and horticulture. The Exbury book entitled, "The Rothschild Rhododendrons" will have a text of over sixty to seventy thousand words covering the period from 1922 when Lionel de Rothschild purchased the estate, his work in the garden, and the postwar period covering Edmund de Rothschild's ownership and his work up to the present time. The book will contain approximately seventy colored plates - which we hope will be of a very high standard of colour printing. The photographs will be of some of the well-known hybrids but also of new hybrids which so far you have not seen or heard about.
But the important thing we are including is an "Exbury Rhododendron Register." This will contain every hybrid that has been produced at Exbury, good, bad, and indifferent. If it is bad, we say so and if it is not worth growing we say so. Each rhododendron has a full description of the flower, its habit, its type, hardiness rating, both American ratings where they exist, the R. H. S. ratings where they exist, and also an Exbury rating if we dissent from either of the authoritative ratings. We have included a small section on propagation, which is not intended to tell people what to do but how we do it at Exbury. Whether it is the right or the wrong way, it tells the way we do it.
Of the many questions I've been asked since I arrived here most are answered in this book but some of them I will deal with now. The question most frequently asked is about Rhododendron 'Crest'. Rhododendron 'Crest' is a supreme achievement in its field and undoubtedly the finest of the 'Hawk' group. The large and immaculate truss is composed of about twelve flowers, beautifully poised and of great floral distinction. The pigment is primrose merging into deeper hues around the throat on the segments. When 'Crest' was brought before the Rhododendron Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society, some members doubted at first that it was really a 'Hawk'. It ensued from Lionel de Rothschild's second hybridization, when perhaps he used a different R. wardii . This might account for the different floral type, build and quality. In 'Crest' the blossoms are much larger and more open-mouthed, shallow campanulate than the other 'Hawks' and this makes the truss larger and better furnished. 'Crest' first came into bloom in the early 1950's and ever since then has flowered profusely. The original F.C.C. plant is now fourteen feet high, it is unaffected by frost or wind and seems to justify a hardiness rating of B.
Fig.68. A splendid plant of
yakushimanum in the exhibit of
H. L. Larson at the Annual Meeting Show.
Photo by Cecil Smith
The other question frequently asked is concerning the controversy over R. yakushimanum . I think it's very appropriate I should deal with this here because we have with us Mr. Wada - the man who sent us the two original plants from Japan.
Very particular interest attaches to this species which Lionel de Rothschild introduced into Britain in 1934, and which has recently seized the imagination of rhododendron lovers everywhere. It is a dwarf of superlative and unique character and is in a class quite by itself. R. yakushimanum , "yak" as it is often called by those who are on terms of intimacy with it, forms a low mounded shrub, three to four feet high or slightly more, and spreading rather more widely with its lower branches keeping close company with the ground. Its habit is dense and compact making it an ideal rhododendron for even the smallest gardens, and a first-rate inhibitor of weeds. Its first remarkable feature is its foliage. The leaves about three-and a-half inches long and one-and-a-half inches broad, curl downwards and inwards along their margins, so that they appear almost tubular. When young the leaves and petioles are almost completely covered by a white felt. Gradually they turn dark green on their curved upper surfaces while their lower surfaces develop a heavy woolly indumentum. Thus in its foliage alone, R. yakushimanum is a shrub of pronounced ornamental value.
But the surprise occasioned by its dramatic young leaves, is surpassed by the performance of the flowers in May. First there appears a large ball of tightly backed buds in deep rose pink. These gradually open to a cluster of some ten bells of paler pink, and as they fully extend the truss becomes completely white, except only for a few faint green spots within, and almost completely spherical, sitting close down on the foliage, and of the most elegant deportment. Apart from these fascinating changes of colour in flower and foliage, the surprising things are the irrelevantly enormous size of the flower trusses in relating to the plant as a whole, and the enormous quantity of bloom it bears. It begins to flower at a few inches high. The whole plant with its balanced carriage and faultless habit bears the imprint of quality and distinction. However, in spite of its Misty Mountain origin it has proved completely sun-hardy as well as frost hardy in Britain.
Plants sent by Wada
In 1934 Lionel de Rothschild wrote to Mr. Wada in Japan, who has been a source of many garden treasures, asking him to supply any plants he could of unusual character and high quality. In response Mr. Wada sent him among other things, two very small plants of R. yakushimanum and two or more of the true form of the rare R. metternichii . In the same year Lionel de Rothschild personally described R. yakushimanum in the Year Book of the British Rhododendron Association. The two small R. yakushimanum grew on quickly at Exbury putting out their white tufts of foliage and their large snowballs each year, but not in a very prominent position and seemingly escaping close notice. After the war, however, one of the two plants was taken by Francis Hanger to the Royal Horticultural Society's gardens at Wisley.
In 1947 the Wisley plant was exhibited at a Royal Horticultural Society Show. It was acclaimed with a storm of enthusiasm for one of the unquestioned First Class Certificates. Three years later the Exbury plant was exhibited at Chelsea by Edmund de Rothschild with an equally devastating effect. The two plants, which are the largest specimens known in cultivation so far, have slightly different characteristics, but both are of the highest excellence. Mr. David Leach, the American authority, tells us that they have quite different genotypes. For serious breeders who may want to make back-crosses or sibling crosses of F, progeny, a matching of genotypes is very important. The Exbury plant is a trifle more vertical in its carriage and has rather the better foliage, the leaves being doubly convex and a deeper green. This according to Dr. A. F. Serbin (in the "Quarterly Bulletin" of the American Rhododendron Society of April 1965) is the form found in the high levels of Yaku Shima Island, in an area constantly drenched with mist and fiercely windswept. That it should be so superlatively successful in a totally different environment, even enduring exposure to full sun with complete equanimity, is yet another of its most gratifying surprises.
Still rare, not very cheap and eagerly sought after, R. yakushimanum bears promise of becoming a widespread favorite when more generally available, so instant is its appeal both to the connoisseur and to the prentice gardener. It requires some skill, however, to propagate by vegetative methods. From naturally produced seed it varies considerably in its results, for it makes readily with other rhododendrons through the agency of the bee.
Inevitably it became eagerly demanded by the hybridist after its first public appearance. Several hybrids have already been created, but none so far shown rivals the charm of the wilding. No doubt worthy offspring will be born in time, but meanwhile "yak" is entirely sufficient unto itself.
Let me tell you this, and it is not because we have the Exbury plant at Exbury, but these two plants have been exhibited side by side on two or three occasions at Chelsea, and we have the R. H. S. plant or a propagation from it, at Exbury, and there is no doubt that the one that remained at Exbury is the better plant. If you grow these two plants together it is very easy to decide the big difference between them, and certainly the Exbury plant is the better one.
Slides of Exbury Varieties
Perhaps we might now see some slides. I have lots more questions to answer and you've probably got some to ask me, but Mr. Dunn is now ready to help me show these slides.
I thought that we should start by showing you a photograph of 'Naomi'; we won't dwell on it because I think you all know it. But we do think that probably it is one of the best all round garden plants that Exbury has produced and we think it can be classed for hardiness and general use with the more popular hardy hybrids.
This is 'Lionel's Triumph' and is the Award of Merit form. You will realize that we rank this very highly as we reserved the name 'Lionel's Triumph' for a top-class hybrid. It has a commanding bearing with excellent foliage and it appears to be quite hardy. The flowers are borne in magnificent trusses of eighteen florets. They are as you see deep cream with a distinctive crimson eye. The yellow form is equally impressive in its different way, and has the same habit of growth.
'Mariloo', which many of you know well. It seems obvious that the lacteum Lionel de Rothschild used as his parent plant must have been exceptionally good as a parent as we are now only beginning to fully realize what excellent hybrids have been raised from it. You will shortly see a slide of R. 'Jocelyne' which is in our opinion one of the very finest lacteum hybrids.
'Exbury Cornish Cross'. I have included this so you may be able to compare the deeper colored Exbury form with the paler varieties more commonly grown.
'Bibiani'. A very early flowering variety. Quite hardy and has a neat orderly behavior. Lionel de Rothschild used 'Moser's Maroon' as a parent quite extensively. The plants are now over 20 ft. high.
'Carita Charm'. This is a lesser known clone of 'Carita' but nevertheless has a lot to commend it. Personally, I prefer the 'Golden Dream' or the newer 'Inchmery.' The four different forms are shown on this next slide.
'Crest'. This photograph, I am afraid, does not do full justice to its colour but it will interest you to see it planted with a specimen of R. yakushimanum beneath. The "yak" you see is a layer off the original plant.
This next slide shows two individual trusses of 'Crest' but I think enough has been said about this rhododendron.
'Lady Chamberlain'. These original plantings must now be some thirty years old and planted as they are in too heavy shade are tending to flop somewhat with the weight of flower but seen in the varying forms are a fine sight.
'Nicholas'. This is an entirely new rhododendron named after Edmund de Rothschild's eldest son. It received an Award of Merit last year. R. ponticum is its only known parent which shows predominantly in the foliage and obviously it is a chance seedling, but a very good one. We describe it as a petunia purple with a large spreading white patch in the throat and upper lobes. The tightly packed truss of nineteen blooms shows little or no resemblance to ponticum . It is completely hardy and is growing in complete exposure.
'Bud Flanagan'. This too, is a ponticum hybrid, again a chance seedling. I wonder how many of you like it. The truss is enormous and distinctive for its conical shape of some eighteen to twenty flowers. Not my particular taste but some people may like it, though I think you will agree it is interesting as another ponticum hybrid.
'A. Bedford'. I put in this slide to complete a trio of ponticum chance hybrids. This is well-known to you all so we will not dwell on it. However, the story of Arthur Bedford may interest you. He was Head Gardener for a time at Exbury before the war and I am told that on returning from the Chelsea Flower Show he took a walk in the garden, sat on a seat and said, "Well, another Chelsea over" and died instantly of a heart attack.
Fig. 71. A truss of 'Leo' winning trophy
as Best Truss in Show at the Annual
Meeting Show in Tacoma. Shown by
Photo by Cecil Smith
'Leo'. I am pleased I included this as the one shown today at the Show was twice as large in the flower as this one on the screen. No doubt it is the same 'Leo' but grown much better. undoubtedly the best bloom of 'Leo' I have seen.
'Galactic'. This is a hybrid of 'Avalanche' and lacteum and received an Award of Merit in 1964. A fine new hybrid. The lacteum is predominant in its foliage and the influence of 'Avalanche' is very marked in the flowers. It blooms in late March or early April.
'Avalanche' F.C.C. One of my favorite rhododendrons and I think well known to you all. Flowering in March at its best it is an unforgettable sight. An example, I think, of a well-named hybrid.
'Queen of Hearts', A.M. An example of the influence of 'Moser's Maroon' in the deepness of the red coloring. We have many plants of this distributed around the garden and it is much admired. The plants are now some ten to twelve feet high.
'Prelude', A.M. We have a soft spot for this hybrid as it was the last cross made by Lionel de Rothschild - hence its name. It flowers in April-May and has a good habit of middle height and appears to be quite hardy.
'Damozel', A.M. The slide does not do justice to its effectiveness. The colour may not be for all tastes but in full flower it is quite commanding and always attracts attention.
'Kiev', A.M. ( elliottii x 'Barclayii'). What a pity it is so tender, as in my opinion it is the best red rhododendron we have at Exbury. We have many differing forms all of equal intensity of colour. With the sun shining through it I have yet to see its equal, but alas, only for the more sheltered gardens.
'Jocelyne', F.C.C. This is the lacteum hybrid I referred to earlier. It never fails to flower to the full and in April is perhaps the most rewarding plant in the whole garden. It is proving to be much hardier than its parents would lead one to expect.
'Aries', F.C.C. A very fine red but plant habit appears to deteriorate as the plant gets older. Again like the Chamberlains the weight of flower tends to flop the branches down but I remember it as a young plant holding itself proudly and well. This, of course, may be a fault with many hybrids where the parents differ in make-up to any large extent.
'Elizabeth de Rothschild', A.M. I wish I had a close-up of this as we think extremely highly of this new hybrid of 'Lionel's Triumph' x 'Exbury Naomi'. It is comparatively young yet and I am sure will find its place among the top-ranking rhododendrons of this decade. Elizabeth de Rothschild is, of course, Edmund's wife and I am so pleased we chose well to reserve such a splendid hybrid to name after her - she well deserves it.
'Gibraltar Bastion'. Another good red. A fairly old hybrid but this particular clone has only recently come to the fore.
'Angelo', A.M. I included this as a late flowering white. It flowers well into June with the Argosys and Albatrosses etc. and no collection should be without some of these late flowering plants.
'Fortune', F.C.C. Perhaps one of Lionel's greatest achievements. Better in all ways than both its parents, both in flower, habit, growth and sturdiness. The large plantings in the Winter Garden are an unbelievable sight and seldom fail to flower to the full now they are reaching maturity. Unfortunately, difficult to propagate and so few plants have left Exbury.
R. pseudochrysanthum . I thought I should include a few species - we are so well-known for hybrids, I think people tend to forget we have some very fine species and this is one of them. It got an Award of Merit a few years ago and is a very useful plant in any rhododendron garden. I was pleased to see it growing so well here in Washington.
R. lutescens F.C.C. This needs no introduction from me as it is widely grown here and I know most of you are familiar with it.
R. augustinii . This year we saw the augustinii's flowering to perfection. Never have they been so profuse and the Augustinii Walk attracted tremendous attention. I am very fond of R. 'Eleanore' which is a hybrid of R. augustinii and although no preference to blue is a most attractive plant.
I now propose to go quickly through some slides of the Exbury deciduous azaleas with no comment as I have seen so many planted in gardens here that you are fully aware of their qualities, but I shall comment on some seedlings we shall see after the named varieties.
|Azalea 'Golden Sunset'||Azalea 'Bright Forecast'||Azalea 'Gallipoli'|
|Azalea 'Scarlet O'Hara'||Azalea 'Silver Slipper'||Azalea 'Golden Girl'|
|Azalea 'Basilisk'||Azalea 'Old Gold'||Azalea 'Ginger'|
|Azalea 'Pink Delight'||Azalea 'Berryrose'||Azalea 'Coronation'|
The next and last five slides I want you to note particularly as these are quite new and we think a definite improvement on the existing azalea named varieties. They are the result of many years further hybridization and selection - we have something like fifty thousand seedlings all flowering size from which to select what we confidently expect to be improved Exbury Azaleas of the future. There are a number of complete breakaways in colour and also shape and size of truss - a few of them double flowered. I am afraid it will be a few years before the selection has been completed but I am looking forward to seeing them growing in America in the not too distant future.
Comments and Questions
I have been asked to comment on your Show and I would love to do this as I was extremely impressed, particularly after learning that the exhibitors had only a few night hours in which to stage their exhibits and I am sure you would all agree they need our heartiest congratulations. Never have I seen exhibits looking fresher. The show condition of almost all plants was absolutely perfect. I cannot remember seeing a show when this could be truthfully said. There were a lot of new plants there or anyway new plants to me, and I found this most interesting. It was also gratifying to me and I know it will be to Edmund de Rothschild, when I tell him that Exbury plants were so well represented and that so many new hybrids of your own were "sired" by Exbury rhododendrons. All in all, I found it most fascinating and I was very honored to be a judge but I can assure you it was hard work; I congratulate all who took part.
Now would anyone like to ask me some questions and I will do my best to answer them.
. You mentioned when showing your slides that a plant was a layer propagation. Do you propagate mostly by layers?
A. We did when we first began propagation but we didn't get very fat from it so we do very little layering today. In fact we have one man and a boy on it. We still layer our coveted plants and we try to plant in the main garden only layered plants but for commercial purposes we graft and we now have fairly good success by rooting from cuttings. Some varieties, however, are very difficult to root by this method.
How big a staff do you have?
A. We have about 45-50 inside the greenhouses and the open nurseries. Q. What about the 'deadheading'? A. What about 'deadheading' - yes, what about it? It is a big task and we still attempt to pick off all the better garden hybrids and we have women who come in as casual labor to do this. It usually takes us from April until July. Of course, the back ground plants seldom get picked off. You must remember we have some 250 acres of rhododendrons.
. Are the grounds open to the public?
A . Yes. We open the garden from early April until the first week in June on Sundays. This year we are experimenting with opening every weekday afternoon as well. The main reason we do this is that we get so many requests to see the gardens that this is the best way to control it and we are able to support certain charities with the admission money we receive.
Do you find that if the plants are moved rather near to blooming time they are not as good as they would be after they have been established for about a year?
A. Yes. Certainly the check the plant receives from the move has an adverse effect on the blooming. Obviously the plant must put its effort into establishing its root-system and in consequence the quality of bloom suffers.
What about Rhododendron 'Repose'? I haven't heard you say anything about it and I understand it is one of your new ones.
A. Yes, R. 'Repose' is comparatively new. It received an Award of Merit in 1956 when exhibited by W. C. Slocock. Another good lacteum hybrid with discolor . A very good habit of growth with lacteum predominating. The flowers are creamy-white with greenish-crimson speckling in the throat.
Some of the other new hybrids which you will hear a lot about in the future are:
- 'Galactic' ('Avalanche' x R. lacteum ). Deep cream with small crimson eye. Tall growing. Flowers in April.
- 'Elizabeth de Rothschild' A.M. 1965. ('Lionel's Triumph' x 'Exbury Naomi'). Large cream flowers with brown spotting in throat. An improved and larger edition of 'Lady Bessborough'. Strong growing plant with excellent foliage.
- 'Tzigane' ('Karkov' x 'Gypsy King'). Medium habit of growth with carmine red flowers. Blooms in April-May.
- 'Charites' ('Carita' x 'Crest'). Pale yellow open flowers. Upright habit of growth.
- 'Edmund de Rothschild' ('Kilimanjaro' F.C.C. x 'Fusilier' F.C.C.). Large deep red flowers. Tall strong growing plant. From the name we have given it you will realize we expect a lot from this hybrid.
- 'Fred Wynniatt' A.M. 1963 ('Fortune' x 'Jalisco'). Named after our Head Gardener and he has been waiting for a first-class new hybrid for some years to have his name attached to it. It has maize flowers carried in a flat-topped truss.
- 'Mouton Rothschild' A.M. 1958 ('Beau Brummell' x R. elliottii ). Bright red waxy flowers but somewhat tender.
- 'Nimrod' ( R. irroratum 'Polka Dot' x R. calophytum ). Flowers soft pink heavily speckled with brown spots from the irroratum 'Polka Dot'. Flowering in April.
- 'Our Kate' A.M. 1963 ( R. calophytum x R. macabeanum ). Named after Edmund de Rothschild's eldest daughter, Catherine Juliet. Is a fine broad-leafed rhododendron. Has taken fifteen years to flower but is well worth the long wait. Flowers white tinged with primrose. A large truss of some twenty florets.
- 'Shangrila' ('General Sir John du Cane' x R. griffithianum ). Large white flowers flushed with green in throat. Flowers in May-June.
- 'Zelia Plumecocq' ('Rosy Morn' x 'Crest'). An entirely new rhododendron named after Madame Plumecocq, the sponsor and organizer of the famous flower show in Valenciennes in northern France when it was exhibited there and got the prize for the best new rhododendron in the Show. The souliei grandparent (through 'Rosy Morn') is very marked in the saucer-like flowers of yellow tinged with pink and 'Crest' is evident in the build of the truss and habit of plant.
- 'Nicholas' A.M. 1965 ( R. ponticum x ?) I have mentioned this when you saw the slide.
Do you sell wholesale only?
A. Yes. In the main we sell only wholesale.
. Is there any thought in England of trying to put attractive names to your plants? I think you raise some of the most beautiful plants with some of the lousiest names I have ever heard.
A. Yes, I agree with you in many instances.
Is there a trend to improve this?
A. I don't think there is. Plants get named for a variety of reasons. I remember being told a story of Lionel de Rothschild taking a lady round the garden and showing her all his best garden hybrids and when he had finished she said, "Oh, very nice, but you haven't got that wonderful one called 'Pink Pearl." The story goes that he was so cross he found the ugliest rhododendron in the garden and named it after this lady who had a name something like 'Block', or something equally as unattractive for a flower.
You didn't show us any
A. Why didn't we show any yakushimanum hybrids? Because we haven't any worthwhile ones. We tried a number but so far the progeny has not been comparable to the parent so we haven't bothered to go on with them. I have yet to see a "yak" cross which compares favorably with "yak" itself, and this, of course, is the criterion of a good hybrid - it must be better than at least one of its parents.
Since the Waterers stopped their attempts at producing hardy hybrids, really hardy, I've noticed very little attempt from almost any nursery in England to produce plants that can really take northern Europe or northern United States. Usually the aim is to produce a plant that will win a flower award. Now many of us, maybe the preponderance of growers, come from colder climates and I wonder if there is anything in your program in an attempt to produce such plants?
A. I fully sympathize with you. Unfortunately our hybridizing program will not help to any great extent. We are attempting to get hardier garden hybrids by using parents such as R. fortunei but this, of course, will not produce rhododendrons that can compete for hardiness with the old Waterer hardy hybrids and some of the ironclads of the earlier raisers. In England up until this postwar period it has usually been the wealthy amateur who has shown the way in improvements in horticulture but their aims have often been guided by the results they wished to obtain for their own purposes. However, I think this has now changed and the British Nurseryman is taking the lead and so we may find work will be done on rhododendrons and other plants to widen their field of distribution.
. Have you gone the other way, hybridized for heat resistance?
A. No. We don't get enough heat for this problem to challenge us.
I know, but you said you exhibited in France and it gets quite warm in France.
A. I was referring to Northern France where the climate is much the same as in England except for the winters which can be colder. In the South of France I do not think rhododendrons are grown to any worthwhile extent.
Is there a market for them in France?
A. There is a big potential market for them in France and interest is rapidly becoming evident but I think it is confined to Northern, and to Central France to a lesser extent. I am always impressed by the American rhododendron enthusiast who is always prepared to "have a go." There is a lady sitting on my left whom I met at a nursery yesterday who tells me she is growing plants in Southern California in desert conditions - she is growing all types of hybrids and species. Now she is the person who will eventually master the problems of heat resistance and I think her efforts are very praiseworthy.
Are you or anyone else in Great Britain propagating by meristem culture?
A. Not to my knowledge except the orchid growers, but I understand the specialists in this work with orchids are, Vacherot and Lecuflle of Paris.
When will your book be published?
A. This time next year. Let me say that I was not taking tonight as an opportunity of promoting this book but I thought it would be of particular interest to you to know that it was on the way. I have felt for some time that the work of Lionel de Rothschild should be fully recorded. I think the reason it hasn't been done before was because he died at an unfortunate time in 1942 when little or no interest was being taken in horticulture, due to the war, and it was some years after the finish of hostilities that general interest was revived and in this period people tended to forget the great contribution he made during the short twenty years at Exbury.
I am sure I have talked far too long so may I again say how much I have enjoyed my visit and again congratulate all those who have worked so hard to make the Show and the meetings such a wonderful success.