JARS v64n3 - Rhododendron 'The Pink Ribbons': The Perfect Breast Cancer Pink Color

Rhododendron 'The Pink Ribbons': The Perfect Breast Cancer Pink Color
Gene Cockeram
Florence, Oregon

In the spring, 2008, I presented a program to members of the Portland ARS Chapter in Portland, Oregon, about both my hybrid varieties, called "Gene's Creations," and "The Macrophyllum Project."

Shortly before this meeting, I had seen in a Costco newsletter an article about a Costco member who was a rose hybridizer. This person had named and dedicated one of his hybrid roses for the purpose of donating the proceeds of its sales to breast cancer research.

Following my presentation, Brenda Ziegler, a member of the Portland Chapter, approached me and pointed out that the color of one of my hybrids was the perfect breast cancer pink color.

When Brenda mentioned this, I remembered the Costco article I had read and decided I would like to name my hybrid "The Pink Ribbons," and that I too would donate the profits collected from its sales to help find a cure for breast cancer. I later contacted the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization founded for the purpose of raising funds to find a cure for breast cancer, and asked them for permission to use the name "The Pink Ribbons" for my plant, which they gave me.

Rhododendron 'The Pink Ribbons' is a cross of R. 'Paprika Spiced', seed parent, and R. 'Jezebel' that was made in 1995. The plant is now a little taller than wide, approximately 1.2 m (four feet) tall and quite dense. A truss of 'The Pink Ribbons' was entered in the Portland, Oregon Mother's Day show in 2009, where it won the trophy for the "never before shown" hybrid class.

Rhododendron 'The Pink Ribbons'
Rhododendron 'The Pink Ribbons'
Photo by Bill Johnson

I have taken steps to speed up the propagation process by giving cuttings to Terry Henderson, owner of Log Cabin Nursery in Eugene, Oregon. I first gave them to Terry in the fall of 2008, and then again in the fall of 2009, and have confidence that because of Terry Henderson and his crew's expertise in successfully rooting cuttings, encouraging rapid growth development, and in being able to get early bud settings, there should be budded plants available for "first release" sales at the Siuslaw Chapter's Western Regional ARS Convention in October, 2010.

October is breast cancer awareness month. So, this will be the best possible time for this hybrid's first release for sale to the public. All proceeds from sales of R. 'The Pink Ribbons' will be donated for breast cancer research. I have been a member of the American Rhododendron Society for 40 years, and am unaware of any other rhododendron that has been dedicated for a philanthropic purpose.

At the Western Regional Convention, there will also be a quilt called "The Pink Ribbons Quilt" made by a Siuslaw Chapter's member Darlene Christean, for sale at the silent auction. Monies made from the sale of this quilt will also be donated to breast cancer research.

I still reflect on the coincidences that if I had not presented this program to the Portland Chapter, and Brenda had not commented that the color of one of my hybrid's flowers reminded her of the breast cancer pink color, this now special plant might simply have remained another pretty pink rhododendron in my garden.

Gene Cockeram
Gene Cockeram is a member of the Siuslaw Chapter.