QBARS - v33n1 Rhododendron maximum var. leachii Harkness

Rhododendron maximum var. leachii, Harkness
Bryan Vernimb, Howell, New Jersey

R. maximum var. leachii
R. maximum var. leachii Harkness
Photo by Bryan Vernimb

This dwarf rhododendron was discovered sometime before 1961 by collectors for La Bars' Rhododendron Nursery in Green Brier County, West Virginia (1) & (2) and was given its name by botanist Bernard Harkness to honor David Leach. Later Mr. Leach distributed the plant via seedlings and also through the ARS Seed Exchange.
The plant pictured is a seedling that eventually found its way to an ARS plant sale. My friend Jack Swift purchased it "because no one seemed to be interested in it". A few months later he gave it to me to grow in my nursery. It bloomed for the first time this summer rather late in June. I found it interesting enough to photograph and after some thought as to what I might be getting into I self pollinated every flower.
This plant has the hardiness and adaptability of R. maximum plus dwarf stature, unusual dark green twisted foliage, late bloom, and neatly displayed flowers of a clear color. Here is a plant that should appeal to the species collector, home gardener, hybridizer and naturalist.

(1) Rhododendron of the World, D. Leach.
(2) ARS Bulletin, April 15, 1965, The Rosebay Rhododendron: Historical Oddities, Unusual Forms, Its value as a parent, D. Leach.