The Garden of Paul James - Delp Rhododendrons, George Ring Hybrids, and MoreAt our regular meeting on September 21st, we will share some of the beautiful things we saw on our chapter field trip tot the garden of Paul James near Roanoke, VA. After hearing Paul's talk in March, we wanted to see his garden and admire those Delp and Haag rhododendrons first hand, so we arranged a trip on May 11-12, 2003.
When we arrived, the first plant Paul showed us was an unnamed azalea seedling from his neighbor, the late George Ring. A cross of [(Fairfax x Moonbeam) x Beacon] (pictured right), the soft pink flowers of this azalea are white in the center, beautifully ruffled, and very heavy textured. The plant habit is very compact. Helen Ring had planned to sell their house now that George had passed away, so she asked Paul if he would take some of her husband's favorite plants and give them a permanent home so they would not get lost. I had considered George's azalea 'Fairfax' his best hybrid, but this seedling was even better! We hope to be able to register this outstanding azalea as a formal tribute to its hybridizer, George Ring III.
After admiring Paul's rock garden, we headed over to a hill where most of his Delp hybrids were planted . The late Weldon Delp was a prolific hybridizer from west central Pennsylvania, and Paul James has one of the largest collection of his hybrids. Paul planted them on a steep, exposed hillside near his home where he has been evaluating the plants. To us, they all looked beautiful and we laughed at ourselves saying that if we had just seen Paul's garden prior to the District meeting in April, we would certainly have snatched up more of those rooted cuttings in our own plant sale.
Weldon Delp was breeding for hardiness, so his primary hybrids often included tough species like R. brachycarpum, maximum, catawbiense, yakushimanum, and hyperythrum. He also used hardy hybrids from Gable and Shammarello, as well as some ironclads, Dexters, and anything else that caught his fancy. By growing his seedlings under ideal conditions, Weldon was able to bloom rhododendrons in just 16 to18 months from seed. This meant he could see results quickly and make next generation hybrids, but they had not been tested for hardiness. He kept meticulous records so he knew the exact parentage, and now Paul has been giving them the necessary test for adaptability.
The Delp hybrids range in all colors from white and blush, through cream, yellow, peach, pink, red, lavender, and purple. Many of them have prominent blotches like a near white with a strong reddish-purple blotch called 'Big O', a second generation, or F2 cross: [('Catalgla' x 'Pink Twins') #2 x self]. We admired a lavender with deep purple blotch, aptly called 'Spotmagic' , from another F2 cross ( ['La Bar's White' x (fortunei x croceum (wardii))] #1 x self ). I would have thought those hybrids were progeny of the familiar white with dark blotch called 'Sappho', but that was not the case.
I was impressed with the clarity of color in the Delp hybrids we saw, such as in the luminous pink 'Gourmet Truss' ['Tony's Gift' x 'Maxhaem Salmon'] or the peachy pink 'Masterblend' a cross of [(maximum x vernicosum aff. R.18139) #1 x (aureum (chrysanthum) x maximum) #1 ].
Most of the very hardy reds in the nursery trade like 'America' or 'Nova Zembla' have a bluish cast, so I was surprised to see so many vibrant reds without a trace of blue like 'Enchanter' , 'Fireball', 'Sweet Jenny' and 'Tim Craig'. Some of those were in the plant sale but what did I buy?
After visiting Paul's garden, he took us for a drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway past Peaks of Otter to see the R. prinophyllum and R. catawbiense in bloom, and some of his favorite wildflower spots. Thanks for a wonderful day, Paul!
Group Order from Van Veen: Buying Young Rhododendrons at Wholesale PricesBy the end of August, we intend to send in a group order for rhododendron yearlings (year-old rooted cuttings) to Van Veen Nursery, a wholesale propagator in Portland, Oregon. Plants will be shipped to us early next spring so we can distribute them during our meeting on March 28, 2004. The group order is for chapter members only, but we expect to buy some extras to sell at plant sales and other chapter functions later in the year. Hybrids cost us $3.35 each, but by the time we include shipping the price will run around $4.00 to $4.25 apiece. Species are a bit more and will cost $3.95 each plus postage. One restriction is that we must order at least 5 of a variety for a wholesale order. If we do not meet their minimums we will not order the variety.
There is no need to send money now but just mail the enclosed order form to Don Hyatt so he gets it by August 28th. All we ask is that you pay us when our group order is confirmed and ready for shipment. We apologize for the short response time but we received Van Veen's listing only two days before the publication date of our newsletter. If we wait too long, rare varieties will be sold out.
To help narrow down choices, Bruno Kaelin and Don Hyatt selected about 100 varieties from the 537 hybrids and species in Van Veen's current price list. Plants on our chapter's "Good Doer List" are indicated in bold. Things marked with an asterisk (*) may require special care. Look over the flower show winners for ideas too. We will post Van Veen's full listing on our chapter website at the URL listed below so if you want something else, just agree to buy five of that variety for yourself.
Dues Increase for Next Year - Upgrading our Chapter Newsletter with COLOR!Because of escalating costs, the ARS has found it necessary to raise dues to $35.00 per year. However, chapters now keep $8.00 of the dues instead of $6.00. After reviewing our budget, your officers decided we would use the extra to upgrade our newsletters with an occasional color insert.
Jane Goodrich has written a great article about our chapter's project to plant some of the lesser known Gable rhododendrons in a display garden at Margaret White's property. We had planned to run her article this month but have decided to delay publication so we can also print some color pictures of those rarer Gable rhododendrons. Look for a color insert in our Fall Newsletter this October.