QBARS - v4n2 A Group of Fine R. triflorum and an Azaleodendron

A Group of Fine R. Triflorum and an Azaleodendron
Clarence Prentice, Seattle, Washington

I should like to call the attention of all who are interested in rhododendrons to the plantings of R. triflorum in the beds where highway 99 cuts through S.W. Broadway and S.W. Lincoln St. in Portland, Oregon.  These plantings consist of six or seven beds and a total of probably more than three hundred plants, however these figures are only approximate.   During trips to Portland it has been my habit to drive this route and for a number of years my curiosity has been aroused as to just what varieties they were. In questioning my friends I was told they were R. augustinii I had always promised myself I would see them in bloom, and during the spring of 1949 I had this opportunity over a period of ten days. This was after the very difficult winter of 1948 and early 1949, when the temperature fell to 10° above.  That spring these plants bloomed very profusely. I noted a considerable difference in color of flowers, habit of growth; some very fine colors and some not so good, apparently no two plants alike. I surmised they must be seedlings, and by there appearance, figured they must have originated from seed of one of the Rock expeditions some twenty years ago.  Now, as of this date, I notice considerable winter damage to certain plants while others seem to be all right.
I have presumed there are probably a number of varieties of R. augustinii , R. davidsonianum , R. chasmanthum , and probably others. I do not think there is any other city in the United States that can boast of such a planting of probably twenty years old that has so thoroughly established itself with a minimum of care. I consider this a very fine asset for Portland and especially rhododendron lovers.  In Seattle we have just a very scattered few throughout the city. The plants at the Arboretum are from the late Dr. Cecil Terry collection.
I would like to propose that the American Rhododendron Society make a study and record of this planting as a constructive project and a complete record made of these plants.

  • First; get history where they come from, and so on, and who is responsible for the planting.
  • Second; number with permanent labels each plant.
  • Third; assume that 10° above freezing did not damage them because they bloomed fine in spring of 1949.
  • Fourth; carefully appraise the below zero damage of 1950 winter and make notations on each plants record.
  • Fifth; At flowering time, survey the bloom.
  • Sixth; eventually make notations in the record as to color and quality of each number.
  • Seventh; give each number a proper rating as to hardiness and quality.
  • Eighth; Make a careful pH test of the soil in different parts of the beds.
  • Ninth; classify and name all the plants in a record. So in the final analysis the desirable ones may be chosen.

If we find there are plants of merit in the group they should be distributed to different growers and put on the market. This program can be of very great value for the future.
I am also submitting one other proposal. This refers to the natural cross occurring in the mountains of Oregon, between Rhododendron macrophyllum and Azalea occidentale . This plant has been in commerce to some extent in this area, and I feel it has a lot of merit.  The plant's bloom resembles an azalea and it has evergreen foliage. It has a rather tall habit and lends itself to landscape very nicely. I have at present fifteen plants from five feet to eight feet in height. They have gone through the winter without damage. I have used this plant in landscape work for the past four or five year and like it very much. Mr. Van Veen displayed a plant in the Portland show two years ago, at the rhododendron show in the Armory. I thought it was the best plant in the show (of course that was my opinion). Now, I think the American Rhododendron Society should officially name this rhododendron and possibly send a plant to test gardens in England and have them give it a rating. I think the name should pertain to Oregon.

Editor's Note: While Mr. George Grace, then Secretary of The American Rhododendron Society was in England, he presented the Royal Horticultural Society and the King's gardeners with plants of this natural hybrid.