Rhododendron • Rhododendron / Azalea • シャクナゲ / ツツジ • 石楠花 / 躑躅 • shakunage / tsutsuji
- Evergreen Azaleas (bicolored types, blooming in May)
Both of these plants, and some unnamed ones in Area V, consist of two colors in striking color patterns. Stripes or sectors of contrasting colors (here, pink & white) occur in some of the 454 Glenn Dale Hybrids, which were developed in the 1930’s at the U.S. Arboretum Plant Introduction Station, and later released throughout the U.S. ‘Quakeress’ is one of these, created by complex crosses that included one of the parents of the Japanese Satsuki Hybrids, which originated much earlier, about 500 years ago.
The original Satsuki azaleas were natural hybrids of Rhododendron indicum & R. tamurae. Usually compact & twiggy plants, they bloomed in late May or June. Many of these plants displayed interesting color patterns, which initiated a long tradition of breeding for multiple patterns on the same plant, including solids, stripes, flakes, lines, sectors and margins. Not particularly stable, these patterns would vary significantly from year to year – even on the same plant.
Careful observation & descriptions evolved into a detailed Japanese system of classification. More than 20 color pattern variations include the following: Sokojiro (white throat); Tsumabeni (red fingernail); Hakeme shibori (brush variegation); Harusame shibori (spring rain variegation); and Fukiage shibori (fountain variegation).
These cherished Japanese flower patterns are seen in Seattle’s Japanese Garden in May as well as in June. ‘Quakeress’ and ‘Sekidera’ bloom in May, followed by a number of Satsuki Hybrids in June. [Corinne K.]