QBARS - v30n4 Northwest Passage to the Shangri-La of Rhododendrons

Northwest Passage to the Shangri-La of Rhododendrons
Warren Berg, Kent, Washington

R. chrysanthum, large leaf form
R. chrysanthum - large leaf form at Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Photo by Warren Berg
R. fictolacteum - small leaf form
R. fictolacteum - small leaf form at Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Photo by Warren Berg

As the title suggests, the quest for the finest forms of rhododendron species no longer need be a frustrating journey ending in futility. In April, I visited several of the famous gardens in the British Isles, including the Royal Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh and Benmore, Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran, the Coxes' Glendoick Gardens at Perth, and Windsor Great Park. Without exception the people at each garden visited were more than generous in sharing their plant treasures.
In two weeks I collected cuttings of the finest forms of some 125 species, selecting from collections that have taken up to 100 years to assemble. These acquisitions have been added to the collection of the Rhododendron Species Foundation at Federal Way, Washington, which now contains forms of 400 different species. As quantities of these plants are increased - over 8,000 already being propagated this year - they will be made available to members of the foundation.
During my visits, I took advantage of the opportunity to photograph many fine plants in the peak of bloom. One hundred of these slides, representing about 75 species will be added to the A.R.S. film library.
My thanks to our friends in Scotland and England who have been so generous in sharing their treasured collection of rhododendron species with us. We are lucky to have such friends.