JARS v36n1 - R. elliottii

R. elliottii
Arthur W. Headlam, Bentleigh, Australia

R. elliottii , Parishia subsection (formerly Irroratum Series, Subseries Parishii), which was originally introduced by Watt in 1882, carried spotted rose-purple flowers, and was not considered to be particularly attractive, however, a form introduced by Kingdon Ward in 1927, with its brilliant scarlet flowers, has been used to produce an extensive range of outstanding hybrids.

R. elliottii
R. elliottii
photos by author

The late Lionel de Rothschild at his famous Exbury Estate, which he acquired in 1929, produced some 1200 hybrids over a period of twenty years. With the resources of a great fortune at his disposal, he assembled only the very best forms of all the available Asian species and he bred them on a massive scale, ruthlessly discarding and destroying hybrids which did not measure up to his extremely high standards.

R. elliottii was one of the species which he used quite extensively, resulting in the following hybrids:

'Kilimanjaro'(F.C.C. 1947), 'Dusky Maid' x R. elliottii .

'Fusilier'(F.C.C. 1942), R. elliottii x R. griersonianum .

'Grenadier' (F.C.C. 1943), R. elliottii x 'Moser's Maroon'.

Other hybrids which received the A.M., were 'Bastion' (1961), 'Fusilier' (1938), 'Gaul' (1939), 'Jutland' (1947), 'Kiev' (1950), 'Leo' (1948), 'Querida' (1952) and 'Rouge' (1950). Other breeders also used R. elliottii and these added to the number of fine hybrids from this species.

Generally, this magnificent species is somewhat frost tender and survives only in the milder gardens in the south of England, and is also said to be frost tender in the Oregon Washington area. However, it does particularly well in the Dandenong Ranges, alt. 2,000 feet, in Australia, a plant in the species section of the National Rhododendron Garden at Olinda being a focal point of interest in the flowering season.

Some R. elliottii hybrids in this area which are of particular interest are 'Gay Gordon', 'Gibraltar', 'Grenadier' and 'Jutland'.

R. 'Gay Gordon' R. 'Gibraltar'
R. 'Gay Gordon' R. 'Gibraltar'