JARS v56n4 - Rhododendron of the Year Awards, 2002

Rhododendron of the Year Awards, 2002
Laura Kentala
Kirkland, Washington
Plant Awards Committee Chairman

The ARS Plant Awards Committee has selected the Rhododendron of the Year awards for 2002. The names were announced in the spring 2002 issue of the Journal, and the choices for the Midwestern and Northwestern regions were featured in the summer 2002 issue. In this issue, the choices for the Northeastern, Mid Atlantic, Southeastern and Southern California/Hawaii are featured. For each region, the committee chose an elepidote, lepidote, deciduous azalea and evergreen azalea. The exception was the Hawaii/Southern California region for which a vireya rhododendron only was chosen for this year's award.


Elepidote: 'Janet Blair' (Dexter hybrid x unknown). A parent of many hybrids. Frilled, light pink flowers, paler centers, golden bronze rays on upper lobes, large trusses. Plant vigorous, compact, wider than tall; dense, dark foliage. Hybridized by Leach, 1962.

Lepidote: 'Mary Fleming' [( R. racemosum x R. keiskei ) x R. keiskei ]. A most interesting plant and flower. The flowers are bisque yellow with streaks of salmon pink throughout. Foliage is attractive with good winter color, shading bronze. Hybridized by Nearing. 1973. A.E. 1973.

Deciduous Azalea : R. schlippenbachii . Growth habit of this deciduous shrub is upright and open with thinly textured leaves in whorls of five at each stem tip and with flowers that emerge either just before or along with the leaves. The light foliage will not tolerate excess sun exposure, and the choice of location of a location protected from afternoon summer sun will result in a soft green, well-shaped plant. Obovate leaves to 5 inches are dark green and smooth on top, paler beneath with a few hairs, turning to crimson, orange, or yellow in autumn. Star-like delicate pink flowers to almost 3½ inches across, flat-saucer-shaped, may also be white tinged pink or white with reddish spots. They are held in trusses of 3-6. Korea, Manchuria and neighboring Russia are this species' original home.

Evergreen Azalea: 'Dayspring'. Glenn Dale Hybrid ('Vittata Fortunei' x 'Marta'). White center shading to light purplish pink margin, blotch greenish yellow, 1¾ to 2 inches across, 2-4 flowers in head. Blooms in mid season. Plant is broad spreading to 6 feet high.

R. 'Janet Blair' R. 'Mary Fleming'
R. 'Janet Blair'
photo by Harold Greer
R. 'Mary Fleming'
photo by Harold Greer
R. schlippenbachii R. 'Dayspring'
R. schlippenbachii
photo by Harold Greer
R. 'Dayspring'
photo by Harold Greer


Elepidote: 'Vivacious' ('America' x 'Dr. Ross'). Flowers of heavy substance, shaded medium cardinal red; 10 or more in spherical trusses. Rounded plant wider than tall; medium green elliptic leaves held 2 years. Hybridized by Ray Forster, 1976.

Lepidote: 'Dora Amateis' ( R. minus x R. ciliatum ). White flowers lightly spotted green, about 2 inches across, in clusters of 3-6. Floriferous. Plant vigorous, twice as wide as high; deep green, dense foliage with bronze highlights, if grown in full sun, and aromatic. Hybridized by Amateis, 1955. A.S, & P.C. 1972; A.M. 1976; F.C.C. 1981.

Deciduous Azalea: R. austrinum . This shrub is deciduous with medium sized foliage, elliptic, oblong or oblong-obovate. The leaves are covered on both sides with short soft hairs with denser hairs underneath. Flowers, opening either before or with leaves, are tubular funnel shaped creamy to golden yellow with shades of orange and red, held in trusses of 8-15. Growth habit is open and upright.

Evergreen Azalea: 'Elsie Lee'. ShammareIIo Hybrid ('Desiree' x 'Rosebud'). Light reddish purple, semi-double with 10 lobes. Flowers 2½ inches in width. Plant is semi-dwarf 3 feet by 3 feet in 15 years. Very hardy.

R. 'Vivacious' R. 'Dora Amateis'
R. 'Vivacious'
photo by Harold Greer
R. 'Dora Amateis'
photo by Harold Greer
R. austrinum R. 'Elsie Lee'
R. austrinum
photo by Harold Greer
R. 'Elsie Lee'
photo by Harold Greer
R. 'Harry Wu'
R. 'Harry Wu'
photo by Christy Hartsell


Vireya - Swisher Award: 'Harry Wu'. From a big dark red bud unfolds a truss of 4-5 large, slightly scented flowers the color of a ripe peach. The tube is deeper reddish gold with dark red pedicel. It's a sturdy shrub and the large heavy leaves grow thickly. Named for the Chinese dissident currently under US protection.

Fred Galle, Azaleas .
Salley & Greer, Rhododendron Hybrids
Greer, Guidebook to Available Rhododendrons .
The International Rhododendron Register 1958 and Supplements.