Spring and Summer at the Trial Grounds
Crystal Lake Springs Island, Portland, OR
by Rudolph Henny
In preceding editions of the A.R.S. Quarterly Bulletin some notes have been presented on different phases of the Trial Garden. Since the garden is now only less than two years of age one would necessarily be of the opinion, that this, the initial stage, would present few features found in the more mature garden. It would no doubt be unwise at this time to state that the garden is past the embryonic stage, but the hundreds of large plants that will bloom this spring will dispel any thought of newness.
The mature aspects of the grounds are in the natural disposition of native evergreen trees ( Pseudo tsuga taxifolia ) and deciduous varieties planted by the Park Commission many years., ago. It is the opinion of the Trial Grounds Committee that many of the plants in the planting will later be moved to locations more suitable to the overall garden design and of course, more suitable also as to the arrangement of color and habit of growth. The overall plan as adopted will be changed but little, and the location of beds, roads and footpaths will remain essentially the same.
During the February meeting of the A.R.S. it was announced by the chairman of the Trial Grounds Committee that three species were in bloom, R. lutescens , R. sutchuenense , and an unknown plant, possibly a hybrid. Since many members at that meeting reported having R. mucronulatum in full flower, a request was made by the Chairman for plants of this variety for the Garden. Several members volunteered, and it has been the good fortune of the Society to receive promises of plants of this early blooming species.
Plantings have gone ahead as weather and new material permit. On mild weekends members of the Society who are interested in the development of this Society project are usually at the gardens, and as the season progresses into the blooming season many interested persons will visit the gardens at their leisure.
Requests have been made of the Society for space in the trial plot for new hybrids developed by members, and persons interested in this phase of rhododendron culture. The plot will be ample to hold many hundreds of plants, and in a very short number of years many new plants will be growing in trial for the highest award of the Society, the Test Garden Certificate.
It has been reported by the Chairman of the Trial Grounds and the President that irrigation facilities on the Island have proven ample, and in light of last years near record drought no shortage of water was evident. The present fine condition of the plants in the Garden is due in no small way to the plentiful application of water during the Summer. Large specimen plants that were moved late in the season suffered no effects for lack of moisture even though in many cases their root systems were severely trimmed to facilitate easy handling. The Park Commission is hereby extended the thanks of the Society for the efficient handling of the newly planted material during the Summer.
Additions to the azalea section are growing, and in a very short time a splendid showing will be in evidence here. Hardy azaleas from the East Coast, chiefly the so called Glen Dale azaleas will be planted in the near future.
Numerous members of the Society have questioned the Chairman of the Society Garden as to the feasibility of inaugurating a rock garden section for plants rather difficult to grow under ordinary cultural methods. Such an undertaking would add immeasurably to the garden, but would be no small venture, for material for the garden would have to be transported in, since no native rock is present in the garden. Possibly during the next few years a rock section will be added, for as many members well realize numerous species are adamant to all methods of culture save that they get their roots between moist rock. Plants such as R. repens , R. prostratum , and members of the R. Lapponicum series not to mention a few are difficult, but respond quite eagerly when planted amongst rock.
The main portion of bloom in the Trial Garden will be in evidence during the middle of May, and extend well into the Summer. Seven months of the year, beginning. with the month of February, and ending with August will find plants in bloom in the garden. Last Fall many plants showed out of season bloom, but such cannot be counted upon as a regular occurrence though I have noted in large collections of plants even where early frosts have struck some single truss will attempt to bloom.