my own hybrids
|My (ex)-gardens||'Park der Gärten' Germany||ASA Convention 2003||Flowershow ARS||Dutch Rhodo. Society|
|Kalmia latifolia||"Indian Summer" in Maine||wildflowers Costa Blanca||Bernhard Knorr rhodo's||Hans Hachmann Rhodo's||Joe Klimavic azaleas|
Articles, here below - of which I wrote 5 and Mr. Schmalscheidt 1 - were written for several magazines in the last 10 years. The first directly below is:
Some of my best,
written in the summer issue 1999 of the 'Journal', the quarterly magazine of the
American Rhododendron Society, the ARS.
Some of my best
Do you know something more interesting and fascinating than hybridizing Rhododendrons and Azaleas?
so, please, don’t tell
me. One disease is enough. And that’s what it is for me; and if a
doctor wants to cure me of it, please don’t come to me - it might be
contagious .Hybridizing is
something very tricky. It’s a mix of imagination and emotion; tragedy and enjoyment; it demands so muchenergy, time and space. May be someone with a small garden should not pay attention; just admire nice gardens and plants of those ‘fools’, who let themselves be captured by this “hybridizing fever”.
Nevertheless - let me tell you how this started with me, and about some of the results. May be you like them as I do. They are my children, and please don’t tell me that you don’t like them.
About 20 years ago we lived not too far from Rotterdam in a big house with a small garden. A heather garden was planted and here I tried to hybridize heathers. But after a few years we could hardly walk on the paths and terrace, because we had pots with seedlings all over. So, it was about time to move (on).
In 1982 we moved to Hattem, to a house near large woods, with a garden of about 2 acres. I thought it would be large enough for the next 20 years, but no way……..In the first 2 to 3 years I layed out a fine heather garden again around large shrubs of rhododendons, which were at least 50 years old. Seeing the beauty of these rhododendrons I bought more and more ‘new’ plants and after 5 years I had more rhodo’s than heathers in my garden. Well, gardening starts with reading books and visiting other gardens. So I did.
My first efforts to create new Rhodies didn’t mean too much. I simply took seed capsules from ‘Cunningham’s White’ or some ponticum- or catawbiense hybrids. I just needed to know the best system to collect seeds, the time of sowing, the seed-soil, how to grow the young seedlings etc.
The first real hybrids came from collected seeds in 1984\85 from crosses between ‘Cunningham’s White’, ‘Cosmopolitan’, ‘Nova Zembla’, ‘Sappho’, ‘Furnival’s Daughter’ and more of these old wellknown hybrids. I discovered that crossing with ‘Cunningham’s.White’ gives many nice looking plants.
This brought me to the question of what objectives I have and what I and other hybridizers want for results. My first goal is a beautiful plant with nice leaves. Once I visited one of our nurserist- ARS members, who has hundreds of hybrids and species in those long rows on long fields, typical for the region of Boskoop. We walked among all these plants and I asked him to point out nice looking plants without flowers. Well, he needed quite some time to pick out really good looking plants. Without flowers many plants don’t look very nice and we have to look at them 11 months not flowering and hardly 1 month with flowers.
Of course my second goal is to get beautiful flowers, long lasting, not fading, cold hardy bright yellows, like so many hybridizers.
Unfortunately a kind of tragedy happened. I prepared new beds for all the hundreds of selected seedlings from the crosses, mentioned above, and planted them carefully in rows , labelling them at the beginning of each row. Then I had a very busy time for school (I am a teacher of German) and could not take care of the plants. After a couple of weeks I found out that blackbirds had taken out all the labels, so I could not exactly identify my hybrids any more. Therefore I call these hybrids my “Blackbird-hybrids”. As far as I could remember I made new labels, but with a big query mark.
One of these “Blackbird-hybrids” drew my attention. It looked so nice! Thick dark green concave leaves, glowing as if they are made of leather. Wow! Compact growing. Would this plant meet my goals? What flowers this plant would ever get, I took cuttings and found out that the rootability is very high.
In 1992 I attended an ARS Convention for the first time, held on Long Island and I enjoyed this “New World” of rhododendrons very much. Before I left home I saw the first flower buds of the plant coming out and I was a bit disappointed - the colour was just red-purple.
Coming back from the USA my first steps were through my garden to see what my plants had done; well, the red-purple beginning had develloped into a nice flower with red edges, white inside and a dark red-purple blotch. If I will introduce this plant I will honour a woman in who’s house I stayed during the Convention in Tacoma - ‘Helen Martin’. Parentage? The mother must be ‘Cunn. White’, but the father? Probably ‘Cosmopolitan’. Blotches are my favourites. One other of these blackbird hybrids is a cross between ‘Sappho’ and ‘Cunn. White’. As you can clearly see by the purple-red blotch and the flowers, which are about 4 inch wide. And not so leggy as the father ‘Sappho’. May be I will call it “Snowprint”.
And, again, one of those blackbird plants, it must be a cross with ‘Furn. Daughter’, is quite typical; a nice plant with purple buds, opening to pink-purple flowers which have seperate petals! I showed slides for some American chapters and everybody told me that this is quite rare in elepidote rhododendrons. I might call it ‘Split Up’. I guess only for people who are looking for something special.
Meanwhile in spring 1997 we moved to our present house with a garden of about 7 acres. And now at the end of 1998 we planted already about 2 acres. Today I have space enough, but time……….
Of course I also crossed with R. yakushimanum. Trying to get fine yellow compact and hardy plants with yellow flowers. I used the FCC form and crossed with ‘Goldkrone’ and ‘Graf Lennert’ from Hans Hachmann. The offspring was okay, but never really bright dark yellow as I wanted. This year the Research Station in Boskoop released 2 plants from the same cross: ‘Centennial Gold’ and ‘Millennium Gold’. I hope the latter will not cause any problems…………..
Another cross with yak ‘Blue Bell’ x yak FCC had some nice results. Some with pure white flowers with a prominent yellow blotch. But also one with pink edged white flowers with a yellow blotch. ‘Dear Paula’; indeed, called after Paula Cash, where I stayed some days.
What could we do better in hybridizing than to use the best hybrids of others. What plants could I better use than the best from Hans Hachmann, who introcuced such marvellous new hybrids. So I crossed some of his hybrids with another plant from German origine, mentioned in the lustrous book from Mr. Schmalscheidt: ”Rhododendron- und Azaleenzuchtung in Deutschland”. I mean the hybrid ‘Rotgold’ (int. ‘Redgold’) from another German hybridizer Mr. Nagel. It’s a hybrid with a lot of yellow in it. (‘Koster’s Cream’ x R. wardii) x (R. discolor hybrid x R. dichroanthum ssp. scyphocalyx). So I made the cross ‘Melidioso’ (Hachmann hybrid) x ‘Rotgold’ with some nice results. In case of introducing I will call one of it ‘King Lion’. And another one ‘Rotgold’ x ‘Amaretto” (also from Hans Hachmann) ‘Big Smile’. The first time that I saw the latter in flower, I indeed had a big smile. As so many times seeing a new hybrid flowering. And all the “small smiles” I throw on the compost heap, which is growing very fast.
What about hybridizing for double flowers? At the “Hybridizers Roundtable” on the Convention 1994 in Ashville I asked August Kehr, what would happen if I would cross with ‘Queen Anne’s’. For instance with ‘Elisabeth’? The answer was that I would get red doubles as results. Well, so said, so done, most of the results are double, but white or pink
What could I tell and show you more? Well, it would be summing up a lot of hybrids, which I have to test in the coming years. May be you will hear more from me next years. As a kind of continuing story.
Writing this it’s wintertime and for me; it is like a tunnel. A tunnel to spring and crossing time. Far ahead of me I see a small light, the light that takes so long to reach. Through the cold, rain and snow.
Oh, I forgot what hybridizing also is - patience. That’s what I lack most. So, I try to get twice growth on my seedlings 2 years long. Bringing them in and out of my greenhouse. Many of these seedlings make flower buds in the second year and will flower in the third.
I will end my story with following comment. In the spring issue of the JOURNAL 1997 I read a very informative and sparkling article about hybridizers from the West Coast, Washington.
Wouldn’t it be an interesting idea to set up a hybriders-news-group on the Internet? It would be so nice to get in touch with hybridizers from all over the world. I think that I am one of the very few hybridizers in Holland, may be the only one.
For me hybridizing is the best thing about rhododendrons. Let’s enjoy it together. top
The Story of hybridization of decideous azaleas in Western Europe.
WALTER SCHMALSCHEIDT, Germany
He also hybridised, and of his new introductions we can find some in collections
and gardens of plant lovers: ‘Madame
Gustave Guilmot’, ‘Quadricolor’, ‘Roi des Belges’, ‘Rose Marie’,
‘Van Houtte Flore Pleno’ and ‘Wilhelmine’.
The Azalea pontica hybrids are also known as ‘Gent Hybrids’, or as ‘Hardy Gent Azaleas’. They are quite fast growing, very floriferous and completely cold hardy.
England the breeding of deciduous Azaleas started already very early. Before
1842 ‘Altaclarense’ was introduced by
Lord Carvanon in Highclere. The hybridiser was J.R. Gowen, who crossed A.
viscose with A. sinensis. We should not mix it
up with another still known hybrid with the same name ‘Altaclarense’,
parentage Azalea sinensis x unknown Gent Azalea, flower colour light
yellow with a darker blotch; this one got a F.C.C in 1862 when it was exhibited
for the first time by Mr. Lee in Hammersmith.
Harry White, who was the manager of the Sunningdale Nurseries from 1898 on,
also several Gent Hybrids,
such as: ‘Ariel’, ‘Chieftain’, ‘Crimson King’, Mrs. Harry White’
‘Nancy Waterer’ came out before 1869 and F. Street thinks that it probably
is a cross between R. molle and R. calendulaceum. The hybridiser
of it was Anthony Waterer senior who
started around 1850 to improve the Gent Azaleas with his partner Robert Godfrey.
For this goal Gent Azaleas were crossed with Azalea sinensis. A. Waterer
senior with his son Anthony senior,
owners of the Knap Hill Nursery in Knap Hill, Woking, County Surrey, and their
successors continuously went on with hybridisation work. As plants to cross with
they used i.e. R. arborescens, R. calendulaceum, R. occidentale,
R. speciosum and probably also R. periclymenoides, R.
luteum and R. japonicum. The results of this complex and difficult
hybridisation are the Knap Hill Azaleas, which were introduced by far the most
of them only after the second World War in 1945. The Knap Hill Azaleas are
distinguished by a large scale of positive characteristics, such as for instance
floriferous ness, large flowers, large
colour spectrum, toughness and perseverance\vitality, also in adverse soil
conditions, striking fall colours, full cold hardiness and relatively easy to
propagate by cuttings, and recently by tissue culture. Below some important Knap
Hill varieties: ‘Golden Eagle’, ‘Homebush’, ‘Persil’, ‘Pink
Delight’, ‘Satan’, ‘Sylphides’ and ‘Toucan’.
in France a long range of deciduous Azalea hybrids came out. In the catalogue of
nursery Moser & Fils for the year 1894 we can find a number of 27 own
hybrids, which got probably all out
of culture now, for instance ‘Baron Nathaniel de Rotschild’, Comtesse H. de
Choiseul’, ‘Georges Claretíe’, ‘Lieutenant Bartet’ and more. Further
we find in this catalogue 8 Rustica hybrids, all own hybrids, and these too
likely don’t exist any more. Just a few Azalea pontica Hybrids of
Moser & Fils exist today, like ‘Madame Moser’ (around 1900) and ‘Souvenir
du President Carnot’ (before 1909). Before 1902 nursery Croux
& Fils on the river Seine, introduced some Azalea mollis
Hybrids. Quihou brought out the Azalea
pontica Hybrid ‘Fritz Quihou’, which still exists. However, the best
known French Azalea pontica Hybrid, and most wide spread, is ‘Coccinea
Speciosa’, hybridised before 1832. It’s hybridiser was Lísha Sénéclause.
The same hybridiser introduced also the ‘look-alike’, the A. Pontica
Hybrid ‘Gloria Mundi’ (before 1832), which is still present in collections
and sometimes available at nurseries.
Germany it was Mr. Jacob Rinz from Frankfurt am Main, who started his
hybridising work for deciduous
azaleas with double flowers in the 19th century. Around 1834 he
crossed with Azalea pontica Flore Albo Pleno. Already 1853 Rinz had
named about 12 varieties, such as ‘Chromatella’ and ‘Graf von Meran’. In
his catalogue for the year 1855 the Belgian Ambroise Verschaffelt offered the
following double flowering azaleas, which came from Mr. Rinz. These are Azalea
pontica Hybrids: ‘Arethusa’, ‘Bartholo Lazzari’, ‘Chromatella’,
‘Dr. Streiter’, ‘Graf von Meran’, ‘Heroine’, ‘Leibnitz’, ‘Maja’,
‘Narcissiflora’, ‘Ophirie’, and ‘Rosetta’. Also from Mr. Rinz are:
‘Heroine Plena’ and ‘Rose de Hollande’.
The by far most productive and inventive German hybridiser of today is certainly
Mr. Hans Hachmann from Barmstedt in Holstein. From 1976 till today he brought
out more than 30 Knap Hill varieties. Some of them are good improvements
compared with the existing assortment, like ‘Csardas’, ‘Feuerwerk’, ‘Goldpracht’,
‘Goldtopas’, ‘Hachmann’s Satomi’, ‘Parkfeuer’, ‘Schneegold’
and many others. In addition he hybridised several Viscosum Hybrids.
Fleischmann from Wiesmoor in Ostfriesland, who died in 1972, created altogether
12 Knap Hill hybrids. Dietrich G. Hobbie in Linswege introduced 3 Knap Hill
varieties, and the nursery Joh. Bruns in Bad Zwischenhahn 6 Knap Hill novelties.
Besides there is a number of hybridisers in Germany, who also brought out one or
more Knap Hill Azaleas.
to write the names of named groups of azaleas and hybrids??
EVERGREEN AZALEAS IN WESTERN EUROPE
Tijs Huisman, The Netherlands
just could wait for it, that after and with the exploration of the far East by
Europeans, there would also follow a ‘flood’ of plants to Europe. Robert
Fortune and Kingdom Ward are just 2 names of the many plant finders.
In 1680 R. indicum was brought to Holland by the Dutch, but got lost. In
1833 there was a reintroduction to England under different names like A.
laterita or A, macrantha. And to make it more difficult the R.
simsii from China was imported to England under the name A. indica.
Kurume Hybrids are originally the result of hybridisation in Japan,
some varieties came to England around 1850, but the most of them were
imported by Mr. Wilson to the USA in 1918 and came later to Europe. But in
Holland and Germany they were not so hardy.
1690 Mr. Engelbert Kaempfer, a merchant from Holland introduced this species and
other Japanese plants to Holland. R. kaempferi, called after him was
imported again by Prof. Sargent to
the USA in 1892, and then to England. After that to Europe, and here it proved
to be hardy, and many hybridisers started to cross with it. The last thing I
will mention is that the R. yedoense var. poukhanense from Korea
is very hardy and so much used for hybridisation in the USA and in Europe. The
seeds were imported first by Mr. J.Jack in 1905 to the Arnold Arboretum in
would lead too far to follow the import from Japan and China precisely; so we
will follow how the hybridisation in Europe went on.
first Japanese azaleas were imported between 1901 and 1911 by Mr. Albert van
Hecke. It were ‘Amoenum’, ‘Hatsugiri’, ‘Hinodegiri’ en ‘Yodogawa’.
These plants were brought by Dutch merchants of bulbs.
Mr. O.F. Wuyts, inspector for plant protection also hybridised as amateur.
During 1944 till 1947 he showed his hybrids, but many names got lost since. From
brought into trade. ‘Conny’, ‘Hong
Kong’, ‘Imperator’ are some of his best.
Dr. ir. Heursel, today’s one of the best experts on Japanese azaleas,
hybridised mostly with R. simsii, with one hardy new cultivar ‘Gilbert Mullie’.
In the United
Kingdom Lionel de Rotchild, famous
for his deciduous Exbury Azaleas, also hybridised for evergreen azaleas and used
mostly R. kaempferi. ‘Leo’ and ‘Eddy’are some of his varieties.
Recently the Cox family in Scotland, well
known because of their books about Rhododendrons and owners of the ‘Glendoick
Gardens in Perth, hybridised and introduced new and very fine hybrids,: ‘Panda’,
‘Racoon’, ‘Squirrel’ and ‘Wombat’. Also
new varieties as licensed plants: ‘Glendoick Crimson’, ‘Glendoick
Dream’ and ‘Glendoick Garnet’.
Hybridisers in the
Netherlands introduced especially
in the first half of last century many fine and well bought new varieties. Cold
hardiness is very important in the Netherlands and Germany. Last 6 winters were
very mild, but we can’t count on it for the future. Zone’s 7a and 6a\b
require hardy and tough plants. Many hybridisers are from the famous region
around Boskoop, and
the Research Station for Plants there played an important role.
So hardy varieties like ‘Amoenum’ and ‘Mucronatum’ and species like R.
kaempferi, R. kiusianum, R. yedoense var.
poukhanense were used. Most nursery-men
like H. den Ouden and Sons, Felix & Dijkhuis, P. Koster, C.B. van Nes
& Sons and A. Vuykv and others introduced superb
hardy azaleas: ‘Adonis’, ‘Ageeth’, ‘Alice’, ‘Anna Maria’,
‘Arabesk’, ‘Beethoven’, (many
composer’s names are from A. Vuyk van Nes), ‘Chopin’, ‘Favorite’, ‘Helena’,
‘Jeanette’, ‘Joseph Haydn’, ‘Mahler’ and many more.
Another variety is ‘Noordtiana’ introduced by the firm P. van Noordt &
sons in 1897. A seedling from seeds out of a capsule on plants, imported from
Japan. The reason that I mention this particular plant is, that it is very cold
hardy and therefore many hybridisers used it for hardiness.
At the Agricultural University in Wageningen material of ‘Vuyk’s Scarlet’
got a radiation treatment and at last ‘Aleida’ was introduced. More
experimental work was done by radiating flower buds on ‘Silvester’.
Mutations were ‘Odilia’ and ‘Stefan’.
I just know, that hybridising has become quite a rare thing here in the
Netherlands. I guess I am one of the very few who spends time and space for it.
Some new hybrids are coming.
to many hybridisers in Germany
we can enjoy now numerous exciting
and cold hardy new hybrids. Remember names as Hans Hachmann,
Georg and his son Werner Arends, Carl Fleischmann, Walter Nagel, Urban
Schumacher and others. Also from the former DDR there are fine new
introductions; from the Pilnitzer Research Station, which does not exist
anymore, Gerhard Mittendorf, and from Bernhard Knorr.
follow these names for their contributions:
One of the first hybridisers with Japanese azaleas was Georg Arends. His goal
was to get very floriferous and hardy new hybrids, that could withstand the cold
German winters. So he used ‘Hinodegiti’,
‘Hatsugiri’, ‘Benegiri’ R. kaempferi and ‘Noordtania’ to
cross with. His first crosses were not very successful, but F2 crosses looked
better. Then the WW1 came, and in this period the plants\seedlings were not
taken care of and many died. After the war the best, toughest and hardiest ones
were selected and brought into trade. In 1926 they were showed on one of these
enormous plant exhibitions in Dresden in eastern Germany. Many people were very
enthusiastic about these new azaleas. They were mostly named for rivers in the
‘Sauerland’ in Germany, where he lived. Like ‘Agger’, ‘Diemel’, ‘Eder’,
‘Neye’, ‘Sorpe’ etc.
Another hybrid from unknown origin ‘Multiflorum’ was very hardy and often
used in further hybridisations. For instance by his son Werner, who introduced
nice new and hardy hybrids between 1950 and 1960. He called them all with
Japanese names like ‘Fumiko’, or ‘Hiroko’; and every name had a second
name like ‘Geisha dark pink’, or ‘Geisha orange\red’. These names should
not be confused with the Glen Dale hybrid ‘Geisha’.
One of the hybridisers who used this ‘Multiflorum’ was Carl Fleischmann in
northern Germany. He crossed it with a hardy form of R. kiusianum and
tested them during some very cold winters. The results are all named as ‘Diamant’-
azaleas, like ‘Diamant pink’, or ‘Diamant rose’ etc. Very popular in
Holland and Germany.
Schumacher who worked at the nursery of Georg Arends, introduced some new
hybrids like ‘Georg Arends’ and ‘Sirikit’.
The Pilnitzer azaleas were
hybridised at the Pilnitz Plant Research Station not far from Dresden.
Hybridiser was Mr. Werner Dähnhardt, who used hardy own clones and some kiusianum
hybrids. Results: ‘Falkenstein’, with very small leaves, ‘Königstein’,
‘Lilienstein’, ‘Rauschenstein’ etc. named for some rocky mountains east
Also from Dresden are some fine hybrids from Mr. Bernhard Knorr. He was the
leader of the Dresden Plant Research Station and hybridised at home, which was
forbidden to do. He used hybrids from Georg Arends and the hybrid ‘Van Noordt’.
He called them ‘Dretonia’ with the suffix for the colour, such as: ‘Dretonia
pink’, ‘Dretonia lilac’ etc. Plus some other introductions: ‘Fairy Bells’,
Kamenz’, ‘Meissen’, and more, using R. yedoense var. poukhanense
Gerhard Mittendorf, also from the former DDR hybridised for hardy evergreens,
which should not loose too many leaves in strong winters. So he used ‘Noordtiana’,
R. kaempferi and R. yedoense var. poukhanense. With as
result introductions like ‘Luzi’, ‘Mizi’, ‘Popzi’, ‘Rotfuchs’
I could go on like this, but will concentrate now on one hybridiser,
Mr. Hans Hachmann from Barmstedt in northern Germany, who is famous for
his work on hybridising Rhododendrons, introducing tens of splendid new plants,
and also deciduous and Japanese azaleas. The latter he calls all R. obtusum,
because we can’t trace them back to the original plants.
And he goes on with it, like recently introducing ‘Schneeperle’, double
white and very hardy, ‘Schneeglanz’, ‘Peppina’, purple with darker
blotch, just to mention some of his last introductions.
And who does not know his ‘Canzonetta’ with bronze leaves in winter,
and may be the most beautiful ‘Maruschka’ with glowing bronze leaves in
winter and early spring. And many more – widespread and grown in Europe and
abroad: ‘Allotria’, ‘Estrella’, ‘Gabriele’, ‘Gislinde’, ‘Rubinetta’,
And his latest new introductions, of which some are very fine new ones, many
with double flowers, and often license plants: ‘Babuschka’,
‘Eisprinzessin’, ‘Rosinetta’, ‘Kirstin’, ‘Melina’, ‘Purpurkissen’,
Also in Czechia some hybridisers of evergreen azaleas brought out
several good hardy compact hybrids, working in Pruhonice, near Prag. Especially
Mr. B. Kavka from 1939 on, but also J. Jelinek, M.
Opatma, J. Dvorak and others used i.e. R. obtusum var. amoenum (that’s
how they called it) and R. yedoense var. poukhanense to cross
with. Introductions are – and some of them widespread - :’Blanice’, ‘Doubrava’,
‘Labe’, ‘Ledikanense’, ‘Morava’, ‘Oslava’, etc. Many of them are
extreme winter hardy.
The last data I could find are that a certain Mr. H. Frey from Switzerland,
used open pollinated seed of R. yedoense, and his hybrids, like ‘Bernina’,
‘Gotthard’, ‘Jura’, ‘Matterhorn’, are introduced by nursery Esveld
in Boskoop, the Netherlands.
November 2002. top
In Search of Evergreen Azaleas in Germany
Every year I make at least one trip to Northern Germany; alone or with another rhodoholic or with a group of members of our Dutch Chapter of the ARS. This we did last spring.
last fall, during my autumn vacation, I made about the same trip for 3 days with
my wife. This time especially looking for evergreen azaleas. I hoped to find
some more nurseries where evergreen azaleas would be grown and maybe some new
introductions unknown to me. Therefore we visited a region somewhat north of the
region that we usually visit – between the Netherlands and the city of
Oldenburg. This area is called “das Ammerland”. North if it is a typical
nursery village called Wiesmoor. I read that there should be many nurseries
there. It was here that Carl Fleischmann created his famous ‘Diamant’
azaleas – beautiful, compact and hardy evergreens. But now it is almost 25
years later and I expected something more.
the more we looked for something interesting, the less we found. We visited
many nurseries, but the choice of
evergreen azaleas was very limited. Everywhere the well known hybrids: ‘Multiflorum’;
‘Kermesina’ (also Alba and Rosé), etc., and even at the nursery of Horst
Fleischmann (the son of Carl) only the ‘Diamant’ series. Rather
we are not easily discouraged. In the very worthwhile book of Walter
Schmalscheidt (1) I read about a certain Mr. Buchtmann, in Varel, who has found
in his seedlings of crosses with ‘Multiflorum’, a very slow growing azalea
with nice small red flowers. Never give up!! So we drove about 15 miles east to
the city Varel, close to a bay of the North Sea. His wife Renate, also the name
of the small azalea, opened the door and was very surprised to see us from
Holland. We explained the goal of our visit and that we were anxious to see this
nice baby. Hans Georg himself gave us a tour through his large garden, showing
his large collection of hollies (he has probably the largest collection in
Europe), but no azalea ‘Renate Buchtmann’. So we got impatient to see the
little girl. Well, behind the greenhouse, there it was. Really small. Even Hans
Georg apologized for its smallness. A bad looking baby, even ugly and
disfigured. “Normal” people would call us crazy to go to so much trouble for
one ‘stupid’ plant. Well, must
I explain it to you? I guess you know this disease. To cheer us op, the real
Renate offered us coffee with a whole plate of home-made cream-filled puffs.
Probably new friends….who calls this a worthless trip??
to do next? Meanwhile we were on our way to another nursery “Vorwerk Garten
Center” in Rastede. I think that many evergreen azaleas were sold out, because
the choice was very limited too…well, guess….’Multiflorum’;
‘Kermesina’ and the ‘Diamant’ series. I tried to speak to the
owner, but could not find him. We left and drove to our hotel in Westerstede. We
were tired and badly wanted a nice meal, hot shower and a warm bed.
day we went again to our “always visit nurseries” Hobbie – Wieting –
Böhlje – Dürre – Robenek. To make stis story not too long, at the Wieting
nursery I met his son-in-law Uwe Genzel. Some years we exchange plants, and so
we did again. I told him about my increasing love for evergreen azaleas. He
brought us in his nursery car to an area a bit outside of his nursery, where
long rows of azaleas were planted. He dug out some of the fine introductions of
Hans Hachmann. Suddenly we stood face-in-face with evergreen azaleas, completely
unknown to me. This trip would not be worthless! Strange names: ‘Dretonia’ dunkellila –
dunkelrot – dunkelrosa – lellila – lellrosa etc. “Fairy Bells’; ‘Kamenz’;
‘Lilac’; ‘Lobau’; ‘Lucky Chance’; ‘Charm of Flower’; ‘Meissen’;
‘Riesa’; ‘Wispering’; ‘Zittau’; ‘Pink Jam’; and ‘Bautzen’. Some names
reminded me of Eastern Germany – the former DDR. Kamenz, Meissen. Zittau, and
Bautzen; we were in some of these cities last summer with friends from eastern
Germany, when we stayed at a camping site in Dresden. So I asked Uwe Genzel
where these azaleas came from. A certain Mr. Bernhard Knorr from Dresden, was
the answer. What a shame that I did
not know him before, because we surely would have visited him when we were
problem – I looked him up the members roster of the German Rhododendron
Society – and wrote him a detailed letter. We have a saying in Holland: you
have no, but you can get yes. Since then we have written each other long letters
and he promised to visit us as soon as possible. I will tell now about his
activities in the former DDR and now.
and his wife Karin worked as research workers at a so called VEG (=VolksEigenes
Gut) Saatzucht Baumschulen. Translation is not so easy, because Germans always
liked complicated names for offices – state or military. So they both worked
at an experimental research station of the state. And what sounds real weird: it
was forbidden to hybridise privately; it was only allowed to be done at this
station. So he had to hide his hybridisation form his bossed. He did it by
giving his own hybrids English names; so they thought that they were real plants
from abroad. There was very little
money to import plants from the USA, so he imported mostly seeds, or got seeds
from Mr. Schwind in Atlanta. He did import some evergreen azaleas from America,
but most did not grow in the cold climate of eastern Germany. In 1980 he was
dismissed as a leader of this station, because he did not want to “confess”
the communist regime. He and his wife are idealists and their love for plants
goes beyond a stupid state system. That is something to think about; they had no
easy life!! And yet made the standard for what people should do.
my last letter I asked him to send he some photos or even slides, if he had made
any. Awaiting this, I can tell you the following things about his hybrids.
Many of his hybrids come from the same cross ‘Haruko’ x ‘Noordtiana’. First he calls them ‘Dretonia’ and the colour added. Dretonia is an abbreviation for Dresden Tolkewitz (= a district of Dresden). They are all hose-in-hose and hardy to very hardy.
is one of the introductions of Werner Arends, a son of Georg Arends, who was the
first in hybridising evergreen azaleas in Germany. Werner developed his hybrids
between 1959 and 1960 and called them ‘Geisha’. Like ‘Geisha red’
or-pink,-dark pink etc. (Not to be confused with the Glenn Dale hybrid ‘Geisha’)
This ‘Haruko’ was one of this crosses – formerly ‘Geisha’ dark
lavender, nr. 3.
hybrids of Mr. Knorr are form the cross R. poukhanense x “multiflorum’
seedlings or f2 crosses. His hybrids must be hardy, because it can be very cold
in that region. Last summer I was there and visited the old an famous nursery of
Seidel. The present owner of it is Mr. Schröder; he told me that his wife is
the last descendant of the Seidel family. I walked through large fields and park
full of thousands of rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas in port on his sales
area. In the strong winters here in Europe , 1984\85 it has frozen -34 degrees C
(=-29 F). That is very cold indeed.
summer I also visited the Rhododendron Park in Dresden-Wachwitz, with many
rhododendrons from Seidel and also some Pilnitzer Azaleas. We saw the beautiful
castle of Pilnitz on the bank of the river Elbe, and tried to find the research
station, where these azaleas were released, but it was closed and it does not
exist any more. These azaleas are indicated as R. kiusianum hybrids and
got their names from rocky mountains in the ‘Elbsandsteingebirge’: ‘Königstein’;
‘Lilienstein’; ‘Rauschenstein’; ‘Schrammstein’; ‘Weesenstein’;
‘Wildenstein’; ‘Falkenstein’; ‘Rotstein’; ‘Winterstein’ and ‘Zirkelstein’.
I have seen many of these hybrids, not in flower, and they look very pretty, but
some people from western Germany doubt if they are real hardy. I will ask Mr.
Knorr to send me somes cuttings and try them in my garden. If I have the space!!
Always too little!! My biggest problem! And my wife keeps telling me: “It’s
your own fault, you want too much”. I bow my head, she is right…what can I
do? By the way, we visited this flat rocky mountain “Königstein”, rising
from the Elbe valley. The whole flat top is a large – about 15 acres – area
with an impressive old castle and connecting buildings, with a very nice view of
the valley and other flat rocky mountains around. Worthwhile to see!!
to my story. After Wieting we visited the old nursery of Böhlje in Westerstede,
one of the oldest nurseries in Germany since 1845. Mr. Gerhard Diedrich welcomed
us and told us that nursery business did not do well last season. People hardly
buy plants in the fall, most in spring and not as much as desired. Economic
walked through his large nursery and saw a large area with evergreen azaleas;
the well known….you know now…. But also many other hybrids. Especially
plants from Hans Hachmann and introductions from Georg Arends; I mentioned him
already. He hybridised before the First World War and made his crosses with ‘Hinodegiri’;
‘Hatsugiri’; ‘Benegiri’ and ‘Macrantha’, R.
kaempferi and the R. ledifolia of Noordtania. The first results
were not very good or hardy, so he made back-crosses with them and he planted
these hybrids in his nursery. Then the First World War came and the plants were
nor taken care of and many were destroyed in some severe winters. Just the very
He introduced many of them for the first time in one of the big spring shows for
garden plants in Dresden in 1925 or 1926. To give you an impression of how
enormous these shows in Dresden were, some notes on an international garden
exposition in the exposition city palace in 1907(!): total indoor area 15,900
square meters; 250,000 visitors; number of exhibitors
was 925. Production numbers of plants from the Dresden area: 750,000
azaleas; 150,000-200,000 camellias; 50,000-60,000 rhododendrons. The Jubilee
exposition in 1926 was even much bigger. On this occasion Mr. Arends presented
his new introductions and this caused a real sensation. They were introduced
under numbers and most of them got their names in 1950; names of rivers in a
region in Germany called “Bergisches Land”, such as ‘Agger’; ‘Bever’;
‘Bigge’; ‘Diemel’; ‘Eder’; ‘Ennepe’; Glor’; ‘Kerspe’ and
many others. They are hardy to at least –10 F, have single flowers and are
mostly in the colours pink, red, lavender or in between.
Böhlje had a nice collection of these plants, but my station wagon was
chock-full with plants from Wieting and Mr. Robenek. So, I could not buy any
more and as you know, that is a hard decision . Even my wife was surrounded with
Hans Robenek; I met him four years ago and saw his creations of rhododendrons,
deciduous azaleas, etc. For those who love them more than the evergreens: in
1968 he made a cross between R. bakeri
(=R. cumberlandense) and a dark red Knap Hill hybrid. One if the
seedlings he called ‘Liebesglut’, a very compact and slow growing plant with
glowing clear red flowers with a small orange blotch. I got one grafted plant of
it and will give a special place in my garden.
also visited Mr. Friedrich Wilhelm Dürre, who has been married with the
daughter of Dietrich G. Hobbie, Elisabeth. You know the R. repens group
hybrid [R. forrestii, ed] ‘Elisasbeth Hobbie’? He worked with Mr. Robenek a
long time at the Hobbie Nursery and they did the hybridising for many years.
When Mr. Dürre sees me, he always calls me Mr. Vuursteenberg, because some
years ago I introduced to him a different form of Vaccinium vitis-idea
with pink flowers and ruffled leaves. My name is hard to pronounce, so he calls
me after the street where I live. He even did something with evergreen azaleas,
but they are difficult plants here because of the early and late spring frosts.
That’s what I heard from some other nurserymen. Bark split I winters without
snow and loss of most of the leaves. But I would say that in the last 10 to 20
years we had a good number of new and better introductions from Hans Hachmann
and others and as I hope from Mr. Knorr, whom I wish a lot of success on the
introductions of his new hybrids.
will save you from the rest of this story, which is not interesting enough to
write about. There are more hybridisers of evergreen azaleas in Germany. For
instance, Mr. Walter Nagel from Bretten, further south in Germany. I will soon
write him a letter and ask him about his activities.
day I will write another (continuing?) story.
Just wait and see. As far as I am concerned, this would be the nicest thing to
do – travelling around the world, looking for and at plants – rhododendrons
and azaleas. Germany is not far away for me. I would like to do the same through
the West and East coast of the USA. My dream. Some dreams come true…like the
dream perhaps of some of you to be in Europe.
1. Walter Schmalscheidt: “Rhododendron- und Azaleenzüchtung in Deutschland”. Verlag Heinz Hansmann, Rinteln, Germany
and children of ’Kermesina’
Just by accident (?) I turned over the leaves of my “Azalea Bible“ – as I call the book by Fred C. Galle.(1) On page 180 I read about ’Kermesina’: “Old variety in Boskoop, parentage unknown, strong purplish red; very hardy. Also listed as a R. Kiusianum“.
Who am I
to doubt what Mr. Galle writes? But this made me curious, and I looked it up in
the beautiful book of Mr. Schmalscheidt. (2) He tells something different, as I
will describe below.
is probably a hybrid of Georg Arends. Mr. Ernst Stöckmann, who owns a nursery
in Bad Zwischenahn-Rostrup in Germany told the following story:
About 1955 he bought a collection
of evergreen azaleas from a garden architect, Mr. Herman Brumund in Oldenburg,
who had laid out some beautiful gardens. He had also a garden area in
Blohenfelde, a part of Oldenburg. This Mr. Brumund
had worked as a garden help at the nursery of Mr. Arends and had taken
these azaleas from his nursery. He called them ’Kermesina rosea’. When he
got older (he died rather young) he asked Mr. Stöckmann to take over these
about 100 Kermesina’s. And if this Mr. Stöckmann tells the truth, this must
be the right story. Nevertheless it is still uncertain, what the parents of this
the introduction of ‘Kermesina’, many hybridisers made crosses with it as
father or mother. Hans Hachmann for instance has had some fine results:
‘Granada’ = ‘Rubinstern’ x (‘Red Pimpernel’ x ‘Kermesina’)
Also Mr. Urban Schumacher made the cross ‘Kermesina’ x ‘Muttertag’.
The result : ‘Ruhrfeuer’, a clear red flowering low growing plant.
The last cross that I know of is from Mr. Heinrich Meyer in Uchte:
‘Patricia Barmold’ = ‘Kermesina’ x ‘Blue Danube’.
‘Kermesina’ has also produced some sports. In 1972 the nurseryman
August Wemken found on the plant a sport with pink flowers, but now with a white
edge, and called it ‘Kermesina Rosé’. On this sport he found in 1978 a pure
white sport and he called this descendant ‘Kermesina Alba’.
note that I found is ‘Diamant Weiss’. This hybrid does not belong to the
other ‘Diamant’ plants, which are form Mr. Carl Fleischmann. This ‘Diamant
weiss’ is a cross between ‘Kermesina’ and R. prinophyllum (R. roseum). And
made by Mr. Stöckmann.
All of these ‘Kermesina’ plants are rather compact, hardy to at least
–10F and have flowers between 4 and 5 cm. Flowering time is late to very late.
1. Galle, Fred C. Azaleas,
Timber Press, 1985, Portland Oregon, USA
Schmalscheidt, Rhododendron- und Azaleenzüchtung in Deutschland, Verlag
Heinz Hansmann, Rinteln, Germany.
THE AVAILIBILITY Of EVERGREEN AZALEAS IN WESTERN EUROPE
For many years I have been growing evergreen azaleas in my garden. Each
year I have bought some new cultivars in Holland and especially in Germany. They
just fit into my garden of about 2 acres, full of conifers, and Ericaceae like
heathers, Rhododendrons, Pernettia, Cassiope, Vaccinium and Gaultheria. I have
always liked the evergreen azaleas (in Holland we call them all Japanese
Azaleas) but I never was really excited about them. Most of them are red, pink,
purplish or white; some hose-in-hose. Now I have about 40 different forms, which
are growing well in the sandy soil, mixed with peat, leaf mould and shredded
pine needles. So far, so good.
Before I will try to find answers myself, I will indicate which “European
azaleas are available here. I will first start with the azaleas which I have in
As far as I know,
nearly all of these azaleas are of European origin. At first I thought that ‘Herbert’
for instance was of European origin, but now I know that it is a Gable hybrid.
‘Canzonetta’ Diamant series ‘Labe’ ‘Lilienstein’
These cultivars are from the catalogue of Hans Hachmann in Germany; most
of them are hybrids from him or from Kavka-Arends-Jelinek.
They are hardy to very hardy.
addition also available in Holland:
In addition from some French nurseries:
to the book of Dr. ir. Jozef Heursel “Japanese Azalea’s” are available ( I
mention some of them, otherwise this list would be too long):
‘James Gable’ ‘Lavenda’ ‘Lily Marleen’ ‘Lorna’
‘Purple Splendor’ ‘Sibelius’ ‘Surprise’ ‘Sylvia’
I realize that these lists are not complete, but they give you an idea,
of what is available in Western Europe. Beginning next year we will have a
common market here, so anyone can buy plants in other countries without border
controls and inspections. Just that easy!!
me return to the questions that I asked before. As you can read in the lists, we
have here in Europe some evergreen azaleas that have been imported by someone
sometime. I did not even mention them all. A very strange thing is that, for
instance, an evergreen like ‘Double Beauty’ came originally from Holland
(Van Nes), and is not or hardly available here. Some years ago I imported
evergreen azaleas from Harold Greer like ‘Rinpu’, ‘Anna Kehr’, ‘Double
Beauty’, ‘Late Love’ and ‘Polypetalum’. I propagated them and showed
them to some Dutch and German nurserymen. They did not know them, but like them
very much. Asked them if they had the book by Fred Galle or other
books; they did not. On my question if they would be willing to import the best
forms from the USA, many replied: ”Well, what they have in America is not
better than what we have here”. Strange!!
Mrs. Sabine Bossdorf writes in a long but very clarifying and interesting article (I translate):
“The American hybridisation of new Japanese Azaleas should be
recognized. Hundreds of new cultivars arose in the USA, but they did not break
through in Europe, because they have different growing conditions here
guess there are three conditions which restrict the availablility of evergreen
azaleas in Western Europe:
What aspect is really decisive for the
welfare of evergreen azaleas? The winter of 1991 was rather mild, and the
following spring was very mild with temperatures in April about 70 F. And
suddenly in night it dropped to 15F and killed even some normally hardy plants.
So, not only a factor is how low the temperatures are, but also (and often most
important) is how the weather was before the cold wave!! Sometimes we have here
in Holland a really severe winter, but if winter does not come too quickly, we
have no problems. Except
in 1984; we had a mild December, the winter came slowly, but in February it was
very cold for three weeks, with a very strong eastern wind and plenty of
sunlight. The plants did not die because of the low temperatures, but they dried
out because of the wind and the sun!!
Taste of the public.
In Holland evergreen azaleas are not
as popular as the other rhododendrons. Every week I get a magazine about nursery
business with advertisements and reports about what is selling best etc. Seldom
do I read about evergreen azaleas. Why is that?
I have to guess now. As far as I can “feel” it, most garden people just think that evergreen azaleas are just indoor plants and not suitable for the garden; not hardy enough. Besides most evergreen azaleas that are offered here are very similar in colour and shape. No bi-colours, no large flowers, no dwarfs or creeping plants, except last year’s introductions of nakaharai hybrids. I try to convince others, even members of our ARS Chapter, that these plants are real good-doers for our gardens and hardy enough for our winters. If they would see a Satsuki hybrid with white flowers and red dots and stripes, they would hesitate to buy it. Here is a real challenge!!
In my opinion many nurserymen in Holland and Germany are prejudiced against new introductions except their own. They don’t want to take the risks to introduce to the public new forms with large flowers, because they think they will be destroyed by the weather; they hesitate to introduce bi-coloured forms or dwarf cultivars. They doubt if the plants are hardy enough, etc. They are just too conservative! When I speak with them, they answer that they have a fine collection and it would cause too much of a problem to introduce new forms. In short: they want security.
Let me give some examples:
Douglas’ – hardy 6b; beautiful large flowers, flowering not too early –
fine. No spring frost damage. And why not in Europe?? I don’t know why.
‘Boldface’: the same story. Should have been here for a long time!
‘Nassau’: Late, low, bi coloured flowers. I love it!
Yes, this article is a little bit tedious. I have no problems admitting it. Maybe I am a person with a message; but also with a strong will to achieve a goal. I like to make other people enthusiastic; in this case about “our” marvellous evergreen azaleas. And if I can do anything to promote them, I will!
Request to readers
For several years I have been
importing evergreen azaleas, to try them in my garden in Holland to see if they
will grow satisfactorily in our climate. Therefore I am now asking if any ASA
member is willing to exchange un-rooted cuttings of evergreen azaleas? I will
ask some nurserymen personally, but I hope that some members with a large and
fine collection could do so.
In the first list in the article I mention the evergreen azaleas which I have in my garden, but I could try to get plants and cuttings of the plants from Germany to exchange. I can arrange a phytosanitary certificate for the USA. I need one for Holland; just send them as private exchange.
What am I looking for? Some conditions
1. Hardy to at least 7a, but better is 6a and 6b, or lower.
2. Dwarf to medium plants with more or less large flowers/bicolour/with beautiful spots or just rare plants.
3. Satsuki hybrids, which are hardy enough for our climate.
4. Double-flowering forms and any evergreen azalea which you think is a real beauty; also any with variegated leaves.
5. If necessary, I would be willing to pay all of your costs.
6. Further details will be arranged in our written contacts. Everyone who writes to gets an answer; maybe we can exchange seeds as well in the coming years.
Note added May 1993:
wrote this article in December last year, and after writing it I spoke to some
nurserymen about it. I heard that Mr. Van Gelderen of Esveld Nurseries had
bought at an auction a collection of evergreen azaleas. Among them were a number
of Satsuki azaleas. This gives me hope that we are moving ahead in this matter.
Anyway I believe, that there should be more connections on plant issues between
Europe and the USA – to share the best things that are available on our
Dr. ir. Josef Heursel: Japanse Azalea’s, Zomer & Keuning; ed. Holland.
S. Bossdorf: Die Entwicklung und Charakterisierung der Hybridgruppen bei den Japanischen Azaleen. Jahrbuch 1985; Deutsche Rhododendron Gesellschaft; Bremen, Germany.
Fred C. Galle: Azaleas, revised and enlarged edition; Timber Press, Oregon, USA
Peter Cox: The smaller Rhododendrons; Timber Press.
Walter Schmalscheidt: Rhododendron- und Azaleenzüchtung in
Deutschland; Verlag Heinz Hansmann, Rinteln, Germany.
Böhlje, Westerstede, Germany
Hachmann, Barmstedt, Germany
Wieting, Westerstede, Germany
Vorwerk, Rastede, Germany
Millais Nurseries, Farnham, GB
Transplant Nursery, Georgia, USA
Greer Gardens, Oregon, USA
Hall Rhododendrons, Oregon, USA
Whitney Gardens, Washington, USA
Pepinières de Kerisnel, Saint-pol-de-Leon, France.
Tijs Huisman teaches German
language. He has been growing and hybridising heathers and rhododendrons for 15
years. He is president of the Dutch chapter of the ARS; member of the Dutch
Heather Society and the German Rhododendron Society.
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