JARS v59n2 - John G. (Jack) Lofthouse 1915-2005: His Rhododendron Legacy

John G. (Jack) Lofthouse 1915-2005: His Rhododendron Legacy
Clive L. Justice, PhD, FCSLA
Vancouver, British Columbia

Jack Lofthouse of Vancouver, British Columbia, registered and named forty-six crosses over four decades of hybridizing. His hybridizing goals stated in The Pacific Coast Rhododendron Story were: perfect fuller trusses, ruffled flowers of substance with large same colour calyxes, tall conical trusses, longer blooming periods and better foliage. These aims were all achieved in some measure by Jack's hybrids.

Jack achieved many of these improvements by his innate ability to see in hybrid parents the characteristics he wanted to combine for his own hybrids. He was particularly taken with the big bold and beautiful complex hybrids developed by Pacific Northwest Washington State hybridizers: Seattlite Halfdan Lem's Walloper Group, 'Point Defiance,' and 'Lem's Cameo'; Bainbridge Islander Ben Nelson's bright yellow 'Hotei' and Tacoma hybridizer Hjlmar Larson's 'Mrs. Horace Fogg'. Jack used them as seed and as pollen parents to create his hybrids. Jack's hybrid 'Arnold Piper' ('Anna' x 'Marinus Koster') was the same cross that also produced the Halfdan Lem's Walloper Group.

Jack used 'Hotei' as a seed parent with 'Lem's Cameo' pollen to produce 'Butter Brickle' with 'Point Defiance' pollen to produce 'Canadian Beauty'. With 'Lem's Cameo' pollen again he produced 'Sunrise Serenade' and from an unnamed hybrid's pollen to produce 'Canadian Gold'. From 'Hotei' and pollen from a hybrid in the Juanita' Group he got 'Supergold', which is indeed super! 'Hotei' as seed parent was also used with pollen from an unnamed hybrid (a cross of Jack's own hybrid 'Pink Petticoats' with species Rhododendron wardii ) to create 'Frilled Petticoats', 'Yellow Petticoats' and a sister 'Golden Moments' (syn: 'Golden Days'). And using 'Hotei' as seed parent with pollen from an unnamed hybrid of 'White Wedding' and species R. lacteum Jack registered 'Lemon Float'. He did the same using 'Mrs. Horace Fogg' as a seed parent with 'Point Defiance' pollen to create 'Sierra Beauty', 'Lady of Spain' (syn: 'Flamenco') and 'Canadian Beauty'. With 'Lem's Cameo' as seed parent combined with pollen from 'Point Defiance' he registered 'Excalibur'; with pollen from an unknown hybrid cross involving 'Crest' came 'Coral Skies' and 'One Thousand Butterflies'; with pollen from another unknown hybrid cross involving 'Crest' he created and registered 'Tofino' (that's in Gibson Territory); and with pollen from Jack's own hybrid 'Pink Petticoats' he came up with 'Viennese Waltz'.

Jack possessed a romantic streak in naming his hybrids and an irreverent one in naming some others. When using the Wada selection of Rhododendron degronianum ssp. yakushimanum as a seed parent with pollen from his 'Pink Petticoats' he created a hybrid, named it 'Ooh-la-la', and gave it the equally brazen synonym 'Hot Pants'. For another hybrid from the same cross he turned to ballet for the greatest of the ballet dance steps and named it 'Pirouette'. With species "yak" again as seed parent and pollen from Oregon hybrid 'Cary Ann' (a coral red 17-flower truss registered in 1962 by father and son Oregonians the A.A Wrights), he produced and registered 'Snowstorm' in 1973. Jack again used R. degronianum ssp. yakushimanum Exbury Form as seed parent with pollen from narrow-leaved species R. makinoi to produce a hybrid he registered as 'White Wedding'. Jack used it as seed parent crossing it with pollen from a form of the species R. elliottii that Oregonian Del James had named and registered as 'War Paint'. The cross produced a heavily indumentumed, narrow-leaved plant with opening pink fading to white flowers. Jack registered it as 'Truly Fair'.

Wally Zeglat, a VRS member, used the R. fortunei 'Lu Shan', from a mountain and a botanical garden 350 miles southwest of Shanghai (ARS Journal, Vol. 42-2-1988), as seed parent and pollen from an unknown hybrid to create a hybrid that bloomed with lacy deep rose flowers with a speckled brown blotch, and made Best in VRS Show in 1970. After the sudden and unfortunate suicide of Wally, Jack Lofthouse registered this then unnamed hybrid 'Wally Zeglat' to honour his memory. Jack registered 'Sierra del Oro', a hybrid from a cross using Rothchild's great hybrid 'Crest' as seed parent and species R. lacteum pollen. Dr. Bob Rhodes, another VRS member, grew on a seedling of this cross in his Maple Ridge garden and thought so highly of it he registered it as 'Sierra Treasure' following suit with Jack's other five Sierra prefixed group hybrids.

It was probably an unnamed hybrid of Halfdan Lem's 'Fabia' crossed with R. degronianum ssp. yakushimanum that Jack used as seed parent with pollen from a hybrid of a R. bureavii hybrid crossed with Crest' to create and register the hybrid 'Sunup-Sundown' with the synonym 'Sunrise-Sunset'. Beside registering this hybrid he also used it as a the seed parent with pollen from 'One Thousand Butterflies' to create 'Sierra Stars' and with pollen from an unnamed Bill Whitney yellow hybrid pollen to create 'Silver Trumpets'. With the Lem's Cameo pollen on 'Sunup-Sundown' came individual plants that Jack registered as 'Sierra Sunset', 'Southern Skies', 'Painted Skies', 'Enticement' and 'David Lam'. The last name is for a gentleman who is a keen gardener. Hopefully there is a rhododendron 'David Lam' in the garden of the Lieutenant Governor's Residence in Victoria, as the Honourable David Lam served there from 1988 to 1995 as our Provincial Lieutenant Governor.

Jack used Dutch hybrids 'Jan Dekins'(a),'Elsie Straver', Gold Medal Boskoop1966,(b) Rothchild's 'Lady Bessborough'(c) and 'Lem's Cameo'(d) as seed parents. He crossed these with pollen from Lem's 'Point Defiance'(on a), 'Roman Pottery'(on b), an unnamed hybrid of 'Souvenir of W.C. Slocock' x R. dicroanthum ssp. apodectum (on c), and unnamed 'Crest' x unnamed hybrid (on d) and pollen from his own 'Pink Petticoats' also on 'Lem's Cameo'(d)on all in that order to create and register his "C" group (a)'Castanets', (b)'Cherry Custard', (c)'Copper Kettles', and (d)'Coral Skies'and sister 'Chorus Line'. The 'Lem's Cameo' as seed parent when crossed with pollen from Fort Bragg Californian Dr. Paul Bowman's hybrid 'Ruby Bowman' created a fifteen-flower carmine rose truss with red petioled R. griffithianum foliage that is bronze when new. Jack named it 'Party Package' when he registered it in 1984. Using his 'Butter Brickle' as seed parent and pollen from a cross of Lem's 'Fabia' with Lem's 'Early Orange' he created and registered 'Rainbow's End' - red in the bud, changing into an orange yellow, each flower with a large same colour calyx.

Many of Jack's creations came from the mating of hybrids that were never named or had complex parentage. However, he did do several crossings of species. Three were: R. strigillosum x R. arboreum to produce 'Promise of Spring'; R. arboreum f. album x R. lacteum to produced 'Jeda' (syn: 'Endeavour/87'); and R. catawbiense , white flowered x unknown hybrid gave 'Peach Perfection' (syn: 'Peach Parfait').

In some ways the hybrid he created, named and registered as 'Lofthouse Legacy ' begins to reflect the inheritance he has left us. It is a cross between two of his own creations 'Butter Brickle' and 'Viennese Waltz'. The description in the rhodoofficialeeze of the Registrar Jay Murray goes as follows:

"Fls vivid orange 28B in bud, opening light orange-yellow 19A at center(sic), darkening to light orange 28D at edges, with 28D streaks between lobes to within c 25cm from edges; outside light orange 28D; caylx 13mm long; light orange 28D. The ball shaped truss of 3O+ flowers is 8” wide by 8" high . Leaves, which are held for 3 years, are elliptic, flat apiculate at apex, cuneate at base, 4" long and 1” wide, glossy and hairless. The plant is very floriferous, blooms mid to late April, is 2' high and 1' wide in 6 years from seed, and has an upright growth habit."

However, should we be able to create a park or garden where we can display all forty-six of his hybrid creations and be able to observe them over several years we may find that Jack Lofthouse has left us a much greater inheritance than we ever knew.

Clive Justice, Ph.D., FCSLA, a member of the Vancouver Chapter is a garden, plant and rhododendron historian.

Jack Lofthouse died on Jan. 3, 2005.