QBARS - v4n3 Portland's Triflorum Rhododendrons

Portland's Triflorum Rhododendrons
C. I. Sersanous, President

In the late fall of 1949 Clarence Prentice, a prominent landscape and nursery man of Seattle, and a member of The American Rhododendron Society, called attention in a letter to the Society to a Triflorum rhododendron planting practically in the heart of the City of Portland, located at S. W. Broadway and Lincoln street.

The letter was published in the April Quarterly and in effect was a challenge to the Society to do something about recording the history of what he states-and I quote-"There is probably no other city in the U. S. 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."

He asked that a number of things be done by the Society for purposes of record, and a committee has been appointed to undertake this work.

I have learned only a few bare facts, for the city has kept no records. The planting was made by the Bureau of Public Parks over 30 years ago from seeds furnished by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, according o Mr. A. W. Nussbaumer, Superintendent of Operations, and Mr. Hugh Cripes, Head Nurseryman for the Bureau of Public Parks. A Mr. E. J. Mische, Superintendent of Parks at that time, was a very progressive individual, and it is the assumption that the seeds came from either a J. F. Rock or Kingdon Ward Expedition to Western China. It is not known definitely when the planting at the present location was made.

There are approximately 250 plants, all told, growing for the most part in full sun and bursting forth into a riot of color in the month of April. This year following the zero and subzero temperatures (3° below zero being officially recorded in Portland) there was no exception as to bloom. Some of the plants seemed to have been severely injured with a considerable amount of bud injury. However, only possibly a half dozen of the plants were defoliated, and they seemed to be on the outer edges. None were killed outright and today these injured plants are putting out new foliage. An examination of the entire planting shows no evidence of serious winter injury and at this date the new growth showing bronze to red is beauty in itself. It would seem to the writer that these particular triflorum rhododendrons could be classed without any fear of contradictions as being very hardy and able to withstand zero temperatures.

The American Rhododendron Society is very much interested in what seems to be the greatest collection of R. triflorum in the U. S. and next year the committee will attempt a survey of identification. Definitely, R. augustinii , some of very good color, are present, but many pinks and yellow pinks seem to dominate the planting.