JARS 43n2 - A New Azalea - 'Puyallup Centennial'

A New Azalea - 'Puyallup Centennial'
Bob Minnich
Puyallup, Washington

The City of Puyallup, Washington, is going to have a birthday party in 1990 and to celebrate the first 100 years, an azalea has been named 'Puyallup Centennial'. Puyallup (pronounced Pue-al'-uhp) lies in the valley of the same name in western Washington state. Dominating the landscape, at over 14,000 feet, looms magnificent Mt. Rainier.
The town's well-being has always been linked to the soil which is some of the richest in the world. In 1890, when Puyallup was incorporated, many fortunes were made as Puyallup became the "Hops Capital of the World" and supplied the demands of the breweries of Europe. When the Hop Louse put an end to that industry, local farmers turned to flowering bulbs. The Puyallup Valley Daffodil Festival celebrates that heritage each spring.
The valley is also noted for its soft fruits strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and rhubarb, and is one of the nation's largest producers of raspberries. An outgrowth of this agricultural legacy is the Puyallup Fair. Last September over 1 million people "did the Puyallup", making it the 8th largest State Fair in the United States.
Puyallup is also home to Fred and Jean Minch, rhododendron and azalea hybridizers extraordinary. It was in all humbleness that the Puyallup Centennial Committee approached Fred to see if he might name a plant in the City's honor.
Fred responded at once. "I've been thinking about that already. I have just the plant. A beautiful double azalea. There certainly couldn't be another azalea with the name Puyallup!" The plant was about 10 years old. Fred had been crossing and recrossing all his double azaleas. In this particular batch of seedlings three plants held the double, double characteristics. One was a dark yellow, one a cream-white and one was 'Puyallup Centennial'. It puts on a real show in its long blooming period, starting out as a greenish-yellow bud, opening to golden-yellow with highlights of orange and yellow shades and finally mellowing off to pink and dark yellow in the final phase of bloom. Like most of Fred's doubles it is a mule and sterile.

R. 'Puyallup Centennial'
'Puyallup Centennial'
Photo by Jean Minch

Some of Fred's other azalea crosses have resulted in as many as 80 plus flowers in a truss (50 is more the average). The colors show extreme changes from bud stage to full bloom, making it almost impossible to put them in definite color categories.
'Puyallup Centennial' is now in tissue culture. Hopefully there will be enough plants for those interested to add 'Puyallup Centennial' to their collections. Fred has donated it to Puyallup and all proceeds will go towards the Centennial celebration.

Bob Minnich, an active member of the Tacoma Chapter, is currently their newsletter editor.
For more about Fred Minch and his hybrids, see Linda Draper's article "The Indomitable Fred Minch" ARS Journal, Vol. 40 No.1.