Rhododendron Garden at Zig Zag, Oregon
Josephine Wylie Drips
The Wy'East Garden Club's Rhododendron Test Garden at Zig Zag, Oregon is now a husky 2-year old. It has survived heavy snows and near-zero temperatures, the most severe this area only 45 miles from Portland has known in twenty years! Up to now casualties have been minor-a few broken branches from snow. However, as this is written, quite a few rhododendrons are still buried under an unseasonable March snow; we can only hope they will come through as well as heretofore. We have had two excellent summers for growth. Our underground sprinkling system took care of any lack of rain; last year sprinkler heads were raised to keep up with the growing plants.
There are now 209 rhododendrons in the garden, not including the old native plantings of R. californicum . The plantings are arranged in three major groups in an area of approximately two acres. This area adjoins the Zig Zag Ranger Station at the western entrance to the Mt. Hood National Forest. Fifteen-foot paths separate the groups. Group 1 (along the highway) and Group 3 are planted among well established evergreen and deciduous trees. Group 2, in the central area, has newly-planted western larch, dogwood, oak, and cedar which in time will give background and some protection to the rhododendrons. There is a beautiful 25-year old sequoia, "Big Tree," at the base of this group.
An up-to-date inventory of rhododendrons in the Garden includes 59 named hybrids. 24 hybrids whose names we hope to establish when they bloom, 2 azaleodendrons, 21 new hybrid crosses (planted in 1954) and 11 species rhododendrons.
All but two of the 59 named hybrids bloomed this past season, and a record of blooming time was kept in 1953 and '54. The garden shows very little bloom before May time; R. praecox , R. yunnanense (which frosted a little last year), R. 'Rosa Mundi', R. 'Rosamund Millais', R. 'Blue Tit' and species R. intricatum are the only ones that have bloomed ahead of May 1. Actual elevation of the Garden is 1,425 feet and blooming time averages three to four weeks later than the Portland area.
Rhododendrons in Group 1 include: 'Loder's White', 'Gill's Crimson', 'Dr. Stocker', Plant Pat. # 113, 'White Pearl', 'Earl of Athlone', 'Pink Pearl', 'Mrs. Charles Pearson', 'Betty Wormald', 'Countess of Athlone', 'Cynthia', 'Lady Clementine Mitford', fortunei , 'Chev. Felix de Sauvage', 'Tally Ho', 'Alice', 'Lord Roberts', 'R. F. D. Godman', 'Lady Bligh', 'Beauty of Littleworth', 'Brittania', 'Princess Elizabeth', 'Faggeters Favorite', 'Unknown Warrior'.
Rhododendrons in Group 2 are: 'Praecox', 'Fabia', 'Broughtonii', 'Cynthia', 'Azor', 'Sappho', 'Duchess of York', 'Unique', 'Fastuosum Fore Plenum', 'Lady Primrose', 'Lee's Dark Purple', 'Purpureum', 'Fortnight', 'Blue Peter', and several unknowns.
Group 3 (central planting) includes: 'Michael Waterer', 'White Pearl' and 'Pink Pearl', decorum , 'Mrs. E. C. Stirling', 'Rosa Mundi', 'Belleanum', 'Cynthia', 'Rosamund Millais', ponticum , 'Princess Juliana', 'Scipio', 'Mrs. W. C. Slocock', 'Dr. O. Blok', 'Mrs. G. W. Leak', and 'Blue Tit'. Also planted as a group in this area are 30 new hybrids obtained in 1954 from Lackamas Gardens. These crosses are: 'Moser's Maroon' X griersonianum , williamsianum X thomsonii, orbiculare X williamsianum concinnum, macrophyllum X annuum, 'Kewir' X thomsonii , Noblea-Griersonianum; maximum X griersonianum ; 'Moser's Maroon' X 'Tally Ho'; 'Temple Bells' X williamsianum ; 'Fabia' X 'Tally Ho'; 'Romany Chi' X 'Tally Ho; 'Tally Ho' X 'Azor', diaprepes X fortunei, croceum X wardii, diaprepes X croceum, 'Purple Splendor' X 'Tally Ho', campylocarpum X wardii, and decorum X 'Fabia'.
Up to the present time all of the work in the garden-planting, cultivating, fertilizing, spraying, watering -has been done by members and members husbands. Now our major problem is providing adequate care and upkeep. So we have decided to hire a part-time gardener for the 1955 season. Work should be done this year to bring the plants into a system of continuous border cultivation: and more extensive mulching will also be done. There is plenty of room for further plantings of rhododendrons in the Garden, but for the present we will concentrate on care of the very fine plants we already have.
Also we expect to have a sign in place which has been ready for a year, so that visitors will be properly directed. Major highway changes last year have put us a little farther off the highway, which is all to the good. Also we will have the fine new markers that were a gift to the Test Garden, so that people can readily note names without hunting for the obscure markers.
Any report on our Garden would not be complete without an acknowledgment of help from outside our Garden Club membership from people who have given valuable materials, plants and otherwise; and valuable helps and advice: Mr. C. I. Sersanous, Mrs. Ruth M. Hansen, Mr. and Mrs. B. J. Esch, Dr. Wm. M. Grashorn, J. B. Whalley, B. F. Lancaster, John Lake, and Mr. and Mrs. Christ Kochlin.