The color illustration on the cover of the April Quarterly Bulletin of the American Rhododendron Society is R. 'Cynthia'. This specimen, now forty-five years old was one of the first planted in the Trial Garden. Some of this particular plant's history is mentioned in the
A.R.S. Quarterly Bulletin
, Jan. 1951. The Trial Garden Dedication Marker also mentions it as the first plant planted there. Visitors are impressed with the early summer wonder and beauty of the large plant, even though it is not a newcomer, for it originated nearly a century ago. Though no definite known parentage of this plant is ever published, some interesting notes are carried in Streets fine volume
page 34 and in the
Rhododendron Yearbook 1947
(Royal Hort. Soc.) page 38. Books and publications printed as late as 1910 refer to R. 'Cynthia' as synonymous with R. 'Lord Palmerston'. Before that date they were listed as separate plants. In the break up of the firm of Standish and Noble, the originators of R. 'Cynthia', one called the plant R. 'Cynthia' and the other R. 'Lord Palmerston'. I am not aware of the name R. 'Lord Palmerston' ever being used here on the Pacific Coast. R. 'Cynthia' was introduced here during the World Fair in San Francisco 1900, when a large group of rhododendrons were imported and planted on the Fair Grounds. Five years later, 1905, at the World Fair (Lewis and Clark Exhibition) Portland, Oregon, many rhododendrons were exhibited, among them plants that were shown at San Francisco. R. 'Cynthia' was probably among them. As far as is known the plant of R. 'Cynthia' in the Trial Garden is one of the earliest reproductions of this group.
R. 'Cynthia' is hardy and tough. It had to be to last and flourish. Large plantings and specimens that are in evidence have a great influence on the tastes of the ordinary gardener and public. The sight of one of these large specimens in full bloom can make the onlooker visualize such a display in his own garden, and sumarily nurserymen are to this day often asked for this (red) rhododendron. Of course, R. 'Cynthia' is not red, but, rather a crimson, with a healthy infusion of the detested magenta. Never the less it remains popular, blooms well and is as nearly foolproof as a rhododendron can be.
The color plates of R. 'Cynthia' were loaned to the Society by our president C. I. Sersanous.