Arthur W. Headlam, Bentleigh, Australia
Photo by Arthur Headlam
Of the fifteen
hybrids listed in The Rhododendron Handbook, 1969., 'Seta', from Bodnant, must rank highly as one of the most attractive, having with 'Cilipinense', been awarded the A.M., F.C.C., and A.G.M.
The result of a cross between two interesting species, R. moupinense , a low spreading shrub with bristly branchlets fringed with hairs, carrying funnel-shaped flowers up to two inches across, in cluster, white, pink and deep rose, with or without red-purple spots, and R. spinuliferum , with softly pubescent branchlets, leaves up to three inches long, bullate above, reticulate below with its curious shaped tubular flowers, one inch long, crimson to bright red which become narrower or crimped towards the mouth, leaving only sufficient opening for the style and stamens to protrude from the tubes.
From this unusual combination, 'Seta' makes an attractive densely foliaged bush, usually about three to four feet in height, very free flowering over a long period, with small tubular white striped pink flowers, which are produced in Melbourne and Olinda in August, our last month of winter, and because of the pastel toning against the bright green foliage, is ideal for interior decoration, the cutting of which appears to have little effect upon the following year's profusion of flowers.
Although 'Seta' flowers early, it is not alone, some other rhododendrons flowering at the same time are 'Cornubia', 'Olive', 'Cilipinense', 'Red Admiral', 'Marion' (Cheat's, not the Dutch 'Marion'), and R. mucronulatum , with its pale mauve flowers which open before the leaves appear, as well as two locally raised hybrids, 'August Moon' and 'Noorook'.