QBARS - v6n1 A Progress Report of the American Rhododendron Society Trial Garden

A Progress Report of the A.R.S. Trial Garden
by J. G. Bacher, Chairman Trial Garden Committee

R. sutchuenense var. geraldii
Fig. 3. R. sutchuenense var. geraldii showing the deep blotch.
This plant is often confused with the species R. praevernum
Bacher photo

R. sutchuenense
Fig. 4. R. sutchuenense
at the Trial Grounds
Bacher photo

R. calophytum
Fig. 5. R. calophytum illustrating
the effects of near frost conditions
upon the foliage.

Fig. 6. R. discolor in the Trial Grounds 1951 Fig. 7. A view of the Trial Grounds at
Portland, OR.  The completed shelter
erected during 1951 is visible in the
Bacher photo

It is but a little more than a year ago that the American Rhododendron Society began the planting of its trial garden on Crystal Lake Island and anyone not familiar with the spirit behind that group of members will express amazement at the progress accomplished in the Rhododendron planting. This spot is not like a new garden feature whatever, for the large size shrubs growing there by the hundreds will give the average person the impression that many have been there for a quarter century instead of one year. This may well be observed by anyone visiting there as plants of 40 years of age have taken to the new location as if they always belonged there. While the scheme is far from complete nevertheless a visitor to the Rhododendron Island will be able to study and observe the growing habits of species as well as hybrids in far greater array than anywhere else in the U.S.A. Of course, it must be mentioned also that the project is far from complete, for when one receives collections of such shrubs often without labels, or misnamed, it is easily understood that all of the various kinds cannot be planted into group arrangements in perfect harmony. It will remain for the experts in their field to replant many that may happen to be unsuitably grouped due to ignorance of their general behavior and peculiarities. Fortunately Rhododendrons have the ability in their root systems to be able to be transplanted at almost any time of the year and show but little resentment if the least bit of care is taken to minimize transplanting disturbances.

R. calophytum and R. sutchuenense in cold weather
Fig. 1. R. calophytum and R. sutchuenense
var. geraldii in the Trial Grounds at
Crystal Springs Island.  The temperature,
18°F. caused the foliage to roll and droop.
Compare with Fig. 2
Bacher photo
Fig. 2. R. sutchuenense var. geraldii in
bloom at the Trial Ground during the last
week of February 1951.
Bacher photo

One of the impressive factors in this planting is the revelation of generosity to be met among the many nurseries, commercial growers and members who have given unstintingly in the line of planting subjects. This holds true in the many large full grown plants some exceeding 20 years of age that have been raised from seed from earlier expeditions. The flowering season begins in February and reaches the height of profusion by May and June. Also I must state that flowers were to be observed there in July and August as well as in September and October.
To mention only a few of the donors of large shrubs may not be done in a spirit of complete un-partiality as there have been so many items presented. However leading growers whose generosity in donating good numbers of large old specimens have already been mentioned. The thanks of the Society are extended also to President Sersanous who has not spared cash, goods, time and diligent direction. It is felt that without his drive and perseverance in overcoming all sorts of difficulties the project would never have materialized.