Rhododendron • シャクナゲ • 石楠花 • shakunage
We have several of them growing in the Garden, all along the E fence. They are all mature, and slightly differ in bloom coloration. This entry is for the two that grow in L, by the stream and right next to each other, against the fence. They’re so close together than at first they look like just one plant; in fact I thought they are one plant, until checked the Plant list and asked Corinne, who used to work on identifying plants in this area.
The current Plant List describes them as ‘cream with yellow splotch’, but when you look below the more detailed description should be more like: pink buds open to cream-colored flowers, tinged with yellow/pink and red speckles/spots.
From Royal Horticultural Society: “Rhododendron ‘Unique’ (campylocarpum hybrid) […] ‘Unique’ is a medium-sized shrub of compact habit, with rounded mid-green leaves. Narrowly bell-shaped flowers 6cm wide are yellowish-white, tinged pink, opening from pink buds in mid spring[…]’
American Rhododendron Society lists a hybridizer of ‘Unique’ as unknown, but this entry on Wikimedia Commons says: ” Cultivar Rhododendron ‘Unique’, Origin: Walter C. Slocock, Goldsworth Nursery, Woking, UK (1934) Formula hybridae: Rhododendron campylocarpum subsp. campylocarpum × ? […]”
I was interested in the origins of rhododendrons, where they came from and how they were distributed, but found out there is no clear or easy answer and the experts disagree. Here is the beginning of 1993 article from Journal American Rhododendron Society, which covers some aspects of the issue:
“There are two important features of the distribution of species of the genus Rhododendron that require explanation. First, the overwhelming majority of them occur either on the slopes of the very deep valleys that border the eastern Himalayas and southeastern Tibet, or in the mountain ranges that form the backbones of the archipelago stretching between mainland Asia and Australia – the islands of Java, Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea, and the Philippines. The second feature is that the remaining species, although far fewer in number, are spread much more widely over the northern hemisphere, occurring in pockets that, to a considerable degree, are isolated from one another – Japan, northwestern North America, the Appalachian, and Caucasus Mountains. We propose that, during their early history, rhododendrons were much more evenly spread than they are now, and that their present discontinuous distribution was caused by the encroachment, in comparatively recent times, of conditions hostile to their existence, namely the extensions of glacial ice and of modern grassland and deserts. We also argue that the present remarkable concentration of species in southeastern Asia has arisen because it is there that habitats were developed in which rhododendrons found not only shelter from climatic vicissitudes, but in which they could flourish and speciate; apparently they were able to do this at a time when rhododendrons elsewhere were being driven from much of their former range. We hope to show how the history of this horticulturally outstanding genus might have been shaped by global and regional geological events.[…] (For the rest click on the link above).