QBARS - v34n3 Book Review: The Rhododendron Society Notes

Book Review
Ed Egan, Portland, OR

The Rhododendron Society Notes
Reprinted by the Pacific Rhododendron Society

These notes contain some of the history of the early years of the Rhododendron Society. There are letters and communications from Professor Bayley Balfour, Sir Edmund Loder, George Forrest, E. H. Wilson and many others. An early hybridizer, James Henry Mangles, wrote many articles for the Gardner's Chronicle between the years 1879 and 1882. Nearly 20 of these are reprinted in Vol. 1, No. 2, for the year 1917; and the Hon. H. D. McLaren describes the still sought after hybrids of another early hybridist, Richard Gill, creator of 'Gills Triumph', 'Beauty of Tremough', 'Glory of Penjerrick' and others.
On Tuesday, November 16th, 1920, the now famous plant explorer, George Forest, gave a lecture with slides to the Rhododendron Society on his discoveries of rhododendrons in China. His account of his search over the previous ten years and the descriptions of the plants he sent home to England are very good reading. E. H. Wilson, also plant explorer in Asia of the same era as George Forrest, describes the 28 species then known to exist in northeastern Asia (Manchuria, Korea and Japan) and in 1923 he tells of his explorations through central China. Additional plant hunting expeditions of Kingdom Ward, Reginald Farrer and J. F. Rock are also described.
I found Lionel De Rothschild's article on his garden, just 2 years after he had acquired Exbury, to be of great interest, particularly with our knowledge of the massive contributions that were to come out of that garden in future years. In 1923 he describes his accidental finding that rhododendron seed will germinate much better on granulated peat moss than on a prepared soil, a method that is still used today.
We sometimes forget how difficult propagating and hybridizing were before we had modern materials and techniques. E. H. Wilding, in 1921, discusses his problems with collected pollen after holding for only 3 weeks. Two years later, Arthur W. Hill describes his method which extended pollen life to nearly a year.
There are many comments and some articles on rhododendron culture in general and some information on the culture of specific species and also articles on the famous gardens of Britain, including Edinburgh Botanical Garden, Tower Court, Exbury, Bodnant, Borde Hill, Lochinch, Leonardslee, Lamellan, Wakehurst, Penjerrick and others.
A unique list appears in Vol. III, No. 2, for the year 1926, a "List of Rhododendron Hybrids That Have Flowered and Have Been Named and of Which the Parentage Can Be Traced Back to Species on Both Sides."
The entire 3 volume series, in addition to having an index in each booklet (15 in all), has a very helpful master index at the end of Vol. III, No. 5.