Rhododendron Rhododendron / Azalea • シャクナゲ / ツツジ • 石楠花 / 躑躅 shakunage / tsutsuji
Its white bloom comes in May and it’s a nice resting point for the eye, if you are sitting on the bench in area F lawn, overlooking the water bank. We have several more of these azaleas around the Garden, but nowhere else forming a relaxing block like this one, at the screened by tall trees sitting area between the two shortcuts along the E path.
I spent considerable time looking for information about Mr. Koichiro Wada, Japanese botanist and nurseryman whose name is attached to many azaleas from the first half of the 20 century; possibly because I have only access to English-language internet all I can find is scant references to the same event of Mr. Wada sending plants to England in 1932, and sadly, it will have to suffice till something more detailed about the man presents itself:
1.) the first one is from History of Rhododendron Discovery & Culture by Steve Henning, of Henning’s Rhododendron & Azalea Pages – a very detailed information on explorers, taxonomy and classification of rhododendrons: […] A recent major discovery of a rhododendron is that of R. yakushimanum (aka. yakusimanum) first described by Japanese botanist T. Naki in 1920. Fortunately a Japanese botanist and nurseryman Dr. Wada sent two plants to Lionel de Rothschild’s garden at Exbury in the south of England in 1932. Many forms of R. yakushimanum have been identified and most are considered to be subspecies of R. degronianum. Some are identified as subspecies of R. makinoi and R. keskei. […]
In his email response Mr. Henning kindly included text pertaining to Mr. Wada from page 156 of Jane Brown’s “Tales of the Rose Tree”, which is copied below:
2.) And the second one is from Hortihistoria by Judith Taylor – a compact 1-page history of azaleas: […] Unlike many exotic plants the azalea is a full citizen of North America. It just happens to have a large number of amazing relatives scattered throughout Eurasia, particularly in the extraordinary Himalayan triangle of Tibet, Northern India and Northwest China. The plant is also found in the other Himalayan kingdoms, some now better known for their unfortunate wars and uprisings. In warmer zones the azalea or rhododendron can grow to ten feet tall. At 16,000 feet it is creeping and prostrate. In general the higher the altitude the smaller and more compact the plant.
The genes of one such plant have been successfully bred into many modern azaleas. R. yakushimanum is only found at the pinnacle of a cold and windy mountain on the Japanese island of Yaku, out in the China Sea. The plant was discovered by a Japanese botanist in 1920 but did not reach the west until 1934 when a nurseryman from Yokohama, Koichiro Wada, sent it as a gift to Lionel de Rothschild, the leading English azalea breeder. […]