R. concinnum var. pseudoyanthinum 'Chief Paulina'
P. H. Brydon
Photo by P. H. Brydon
The late Del James contributed many fine selections for our gardening pleasure, among them R. 'Chief Paulina'. This medium-sized, evergreen, flowering shrub, unlike many of its relatives in the Yunnanense Subseries, survived our most severe winter without blemish to leaf or flower bud. It would seem that the hardiness rating of this species in the A.R.S. Notebook should be based on its ability to withstand minus five degrees F. rather than plus five, since this was the lowest recorded temperature in my garden during the cold spell of December, 1972. R. 'Chief Paulina' is an excellent garden plant, compact in habit and with elliptic olive green leaves of good substance. I would estimate its height in ten years at about four to five feet and an ultimate height of eight to ten feet. The widely funnel shaped flowers appear in late April in clusters of three to six and have been described in the A.R.S. Notebook as Royal Purple. I am not quite sure just what Royal Purple is but, upon matching. the flowers with the Nickerson Color Fan, I found them to be close to their "strong purplish red". No matter, it is a rich color and deserves the A.R.S. rating of 4/3. Our plants came from Del James' garden via Dr. Harold Clarke and the Rhododendron Species Foundation number is 64.209. We also have the Wisley and Exbury forms of R. concinnum var. pseudoyanthinum which appear to be very similar to each other. Compared to 'Chief Paulina', they are taller, more open growers, and the flowers are best described as ruby red. R. concinnum var. benthamianum (RSF #64.177) came to us from the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. It is more upright than 'Chief Paulina' with lanceolate leaves and lavender purple flowers.