QBARS - v35n2 Koichiro Wada

Koichiro Wada
Frank Doleshy, Edmonds, WA

With the recent death of K. Wada, the rhododendron world lost its great Japanese pioneer. As a young man, he brought British and Dutch plants into Japan, sending in return the then-nearly-unknown Japanese species. Perhaps most memorable was his shipment of R. yakushimanum plants to the late Lionel de Rothschild in 1934. (For particulars, see Mr. Wada's article in this issue.)

We understand the 1941-46 Pacific War took away almost all he had, both family and possessions. Yet he restarted his life with great success, contributing an article on Japanese azaleas to the 1965 R. H. S. Rhododendron Year Book, and speaking at 1965 and subsequent annual meetings of the A.R.S.

Having learned that most rhododendrons do not survive the summer heat of the largest Japanese cities, he made a determined effort to select and develop ones with the necessary "hardiness" - which to him meant heat tolerance. For this and his other research, he set up first-class facilities: the fantastically crowded experiment station which was the back garden of his beautiful Yokohama home, the test plots at his suburban nursery, and his mountain test site on the Izu Peninsula. He succeeded in producing good rhododendrons for Japan; also he learned to grow cuttings with 95% success in the baleful Yokohama climate. His plants are still little known here but are likely to become the backbone of new rhododendron gardens in hot-summer regions of the U.S. and Europe.

He received the A.R.S. Gold Medal in 1970. And he was delightful as a friend, freely admitting that he could understand only about one-third of high-speed English language oratory, but not missing a word when hobnobbing about plant physiology or Japanese plant distribution.