QBARS - v5n3 Cover Article


R. 'Lady Chamberlain' as pictured on the cover of the A.R.S. Bulletin was grown in the garden of George Grace. I recall not so many years ago seeing the first bloom of this "different" rhododendron. At that time the plant was grown in a clay pot and not over two feet high. While still small, plants of this variety are not spectacular. The flowers, long tubes of pinkish yellow-orange, though a delight insofar as that they are different held no especial appeal. Small plants of R. 'Fabia' at that time with their lush colorful new foliage, and prolific blooming habit were seemingly more desirable. As is so often the case especially in the appraisal of new hybrids, plants that start poorly often show well and increase their desirability as years go by. Others that make a spectacular flash in their first efforts seem to develop no increased appeal, and are soon lost or forgotten.

R. 'Lady Chamberlain' in this case might favorably be compared to the R. triflorum group especially the R. augustinii series and its wonderful hybrid R. 'Blue Tit'. I mention these shrubs for none show well as small plants, but in nearing maturity, the display each makes is surely second to none. R. 'Lady Chamberlain' is now reaching fair size in a number of gardens, and the clusters of bells hanging at eye level and overhead in effect are much more pleasing than the few bells borne on a small plant some years ago.

One can readily understand the varied tastes of gardeners and even today, there are not a few collectors of fine hybrids and species who profess very little interest in the entire R. 'Lady Chamberlain' group. R. 'Lady Chamberlain' is one of the Rothschild hybrids, and A.R.S. members who visited the Exbury Gardens during the Rhododendron Conference, relate that there is a walk lined with plants of R. 'Lady Chamberlain' in all its varieties. The Rhododendron Handbook 1947 lists ten varieties of R. 'Lady Chamberlain', nine of the list shown by Rothschild, and the variety 'Bodnant Yellow' F.C.C. shown by Lord Aberconway. In The List of Hybrids in the same volume page 207 it is stated that the two best varieties are the F.C.C. form and the Exbury form. It must be presumed that the F.C.C. form mentioned is a separate variety from the only other F.C.C. form listed, e.g. 'Bodnant Yellow'. The plants of R. 'Lady Chamberlain' though having the tender R. maddenii in its list of parents were damaged somewhat during the hard freeze (Winter 1949-50) but were much more hardy than at first supposed. R. 'Lady Chamberlain', is rated H.4 in hardiness by the A.R.S. Hardiness Report 1950.