QBARS - v4n2 A Calamity and an Opportunity

A Calamity And An Opportunity
J. Harold Clarke, Long Beach, Washington

Dr. Clarke will head the survey of damage for the American Rhododendron Society, and it is hoped that the July edition of the Bulletin will carry the results of this investigation. -- Editor

While the East was experiencing some of the mildest Winter weather on record, the Northwest was hanging up records in the opposite direction. The result in many Oregon and Washington rhododendron gardens might properly be labeled a calamity judging from the reports made at the meeting of the American Rhododendron Society in Portland on March 16th. Temperatures as low as -18° F. in the Willamette Valley were reported to have eliminated some varieties and seriously injured many more.
The striking thing about the discussion by the panel reporting on freeze damage, however, was the consistent report that many species and varieties have survived with little or no damage. In some cases, particularly with the dwarf sorts, the presence of snow was an important factor in survival. On the other hand, the growers had observed and taken into consideration those places where the snow had drifted and where it had blown off, thus exposing the plants to the full impact of the sub-zero temperature. Some of the new European varieties had a surprisingly good record of resistance to cold injury, although others were quite tender. These facts, as brought out in the panel discussion, seemed to indicate an unusual opportunity to record the reactions of rhododendron varieties during a test Winter. The Editor, therefore, has asked that the writer survey the situation rather carefully, and that the information be prepared for publication in the Bulletin.
A questionnaire will be sent to growers and nurserymen in the low temperature area who have a rather large list of varieties. Anyone who does not receive a questionnaire within the next two weeks and who has information to the writer or to ask for a questionnaire. The more observations we have about a particular variety, the more valuable the conclusions which may be drawn.
The results of this survey should be of interest to rhododendron growers in the East as well as in the Northwest. Of course, there are many factors besides minimum temperature which govern survival of rhododendron varieties in the East. However, varieties which will withstand -18° with no injury at all, will doubtless be of interest to those growers in the East who are studying hardiness and the possibility of introducing new types in that area.