JARS 43n1 - A Marriage Made In Heaven

A Marriage Made In Heaven
Mark Konrad, M.D.
Sewickley, Pennsylvania

A marriage made in heaven was performed right here on earth when Rhododendron maximum and Rhododendron yakushimanum were joined together. Eleven of the children resulting from this happy union are much admired by rhododendron enthusiasts. Conveying an angelic aura, they are beautiful in every sense. Because of the ethereal stimulation I have named the best four 'Angel Glow', 'Angel Blush', 'Angel Star' and 'Angel Light'.

R. maximum x R. yakushimanum
R. maximum x R. yakushimanum , Mark Konrad Garden
Photo by Mark Konrad

The beauty of R. yakushimanum comes shining through about ninety percent on the truss while the influence of R. maximum gives the plant a certain air of formality. The flower color is mostly white or blush fading to pure white. The flowers in bud are also unbelievably beautiful.

R. maximum x R. yakushimanum
R. maximum x R. yakushimanum
Photo by Mark Konrad

After about twenty years the plants have demonstrated very restrained growth and measure no more than five or six feet tall. The foliage is handsome and both the plants and the buds are quite tolerant of temperature extremes. The plants are thrifty and set buds well. They bloom near the end of May in western Pennsylvania.

R. 'Angel Blush'
'Angel Blush'
Photo by Mark Konrad

The sibling crosses have not bloomed yet. Seed crosses are moderately viable. There has been an absence of diseases.
It does not always happen that the cross between two species ends in such a happy union in the first generation. This is all the more true in the case of R. maximum , which has often been a disappointment as a parent. To a certain degree, the same might also be said of R. yakushimanum .
This points out how little we know until we try. One lesson we might learn is to make more good primary crosses between species so that uture hybridization can be built on known building blocks. By extracting the best from both species in the F1 and F2 generations we will have the material to make even more heavenly things.

Dr. Konrad is a long-time member of the Great Lakes Chapter.