QBARS - v5n2 January American Rhododendron Society Trial Garden Report

January A.R.S. Trial Garden Report
John Bacher, Chairman Trial Garden

R. fargesii
Fig. 10: R. fargesii in bloom at the American Rhododendron Society
Trial Garden, Portland, Oregon
Bacher photo

The months of January and February have been a difficult period for outdoor work at the Trial Grounds. Rains that started early in the fall have been with us most of the Winter also. Since the start of the weather year September 1, the rainfall has been sixteen inches above normal. Forty six inches having fallen in all, while not setting a record has been most unsatisfactory for gardening.

Using every day possible due to the weather, I went early to the Trial Garden on New Years day and planted a collection of 29 large plants of species rhododendron kindly donated by the Bernard Esch Nursery. The plants made a large truck load, and the last plant was a specimen of R. reticulatum from the Holgate Nursery. The plant was over eighteen years old, and was raised from the Rock expedition of 1933.

Later in the week the Bureau of Parks added one truck load of large specimen plants of R. yunnanense and augustinii . These plants were planted into a group facing the southwest side of the island. The immense plant of R. ponticum that was planted during the same week weighed almost a ton.

The following week saw a let up for a few hours a day of the rain and the erection of the shelter house which had been planned in detail by Ted Hansen was started. The shelter is now almost complete at this writing, and with the advent of spring weather that necessary part of the Grounds will be accomplished.

During the last week in January the Lindum Nursery donated over forty varieties of azaleas, and they were set in a group near the entrance of the Garden. Permanent lead labels have been affixed to all the plants for identification. It is now planned that large labels will also be used in the future.

During the week of January 27 arrangements were made to dig one of the largest specimens of R. sutchuenense from the garden of Charles Vollum, a deceased member of the Society. The sons of Mr. Vollum have donated the plant to the Society. President Sersanous who happened to supervise the proceedings suggested that the dump truck be driven over the soggy grounds to the spot where the plant was to be set. Brute manpower overcame the rest of the situation. Two plants of R. edgeworthii from Mr. Vollum were also planted at this time.

It may be mentioned here that magnolias along with the famous Chilean Fire Tree ( Embothrium coccineum ) are also planted into their permanent positions.