JARS v58n2 - The Haag Legacy

The Haag Legacy

Some fortunate, long-standing members of the American Rhododendron Society have had the opportunity to become acquainted with Russ and Velma Haag. The Haags' initial interest in rhododendrons dates back to 1952 and blossomed into a love affair that has spanned more than half a century. Although Russ passed away in 1995 at age 85, Velma (now 93) still actively continues to nurture their legacy, working in their garden every day - weather permitting.

During the course of those years, and especially after they retired to a magnificent piece of mountain acreage in North Carolina during the early 1970s, Russ and Velma did extensive hybridizing. Of over 15,000 seedlings put into the ground through the years, they registered only a handful of their crosses and unselfishly made them available to the general membership. These include 'Blue Ridge', 'Carolina Moon', 'Great Smoky'*, 'Cloud Nine', 'Golden Delicious', 'Good Fortune' and 'Whitewater North Carolina'. In addition to these varieties, there are over 1,000 other mature, unregistered hybrids flourishing today in the natural setting of the Haag RhodoGardens.

Russ and Velma Haag in
front of their North Carolina home
Russ and Velma Haag in front of their North Carolina home. This picture was taken by
Money Guide
magazine in 1985 for a special issue on retirement planning. The Haags were
among several couples from across the country whose stories were featured in an article
entitled, "Picking The Place That's Perfect For You."

In the Springtime RhodoGardens is a feast for the eyes of any rhododendron lover. It is the result of a true lifetime passion Russ and Velma Haag have had for these marvelous plants. Each year Velma welcomes many visitors who come from throughout the country to enjoy the flowers. As a living memorial to their love of rhododendrons, Russ and Velma's son, Curt Haag, has recently created an Internet web site to share with you hundreds of photographs of the flowers and sites around the property. The web site, www.RhodoGardens.com also provides an email link for contacting Velma for additional information if you would like to bring your camera and pay a visit.

Velma holding a
beautiful yellow truss
Velma holding a beautiful yellow truss from an unregistered cross
between 'Phipps Yellow' and R. maximum. This plant only started
producing these great flowers after it was 15 years old.

* Name is not registered.