QBARS - v8n3 Cover

Cover Article

The illustration on the cover of the July edition of the Quarterly Bulletin is R. 'Fabia'. Probably no other group of rhododendron hybrids in recent years has presented as much confusion and muddle as has this grex variety. Save for the few clones var. Tangerine, Tower Court, Roman Pottery, and Exbury along with possibly one or more distinct varieties no two of the remainder are alike. To state just how many different forms are being propagated would of course, entail a guess at best, but a conservative estimate would be near fifty. Amongst this group is represented many different colors, shades and forms. All of these are evidently seedlings and some are very good, and in some instances rival or surpass the above named clones, but others are equally poor. The worst of the lot are the seedlings with poor foliage, that is usually lost after a single year. These plants always appear ratty, and should never be propagated.
It goes without saying that much speculation and some little research has gone into just how this condition came about. During the years 1938 to 1943 many plants of this hybrid group were imported directly from England or indirectly through Canada. Most of these plants were without a doubt seedlings, and in each district in the State of Washington or Oregon where they arrived and were propagated one finds these many plants that are alike. Gardens in these different sections usually represent R. 'Fabia' as the form the local nurserymen procured either through direct importation or the purchase of scions from a recently imported plant. I have heard Dr. J. Harold Clark mention several times that some years ago in visiting different nurseries he was always amused that nurserymen stated they had the best form of R. 'Fabia'. Whether the best form of these seedlings will ever be acknowledged is doubtful, but this condition does bring into sharp focus the definite stand the American Rhododendron Society takes against naming all the seedlings of a cross with the same name.
R. 'Fabia' received an Award of Merit from the Rhododendron Association in 1934. The cross was made by Lord Aberconway. I am not aware that this A.M. form has ever reached this country, but I have heard that it is not unlike a few of the better seedling forms that are grown here. Other prominent rhododendron fanciers in England also evidently grew seedlings of this cross, and Loder, Stevenson, and the Exbury Gardens named the finer forms they grew with varietal names. R. 'Fabia' is a rather low growing and spreading shrub and blooms during the first weeks of June, and a large specimen of good form is indeed most welcome in the garden.