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Rhododendron ´Loderi´ - How distinct are the different clones?

It has been a privilege to have spent several idyllic evenings in 2001 & 2002 looking at as many of the original plants as I could, and also looked at younger plants, especially in the Coronation Garden at Leonardslee, where a collection was planted in 1953, and in the gardens at Wisley and Windsor. One hopes that we can rely on the original plants to be correctly labelled, but probably not on any other, even in their home garden. I looked for a truss in which the last flower was nearly fully expanded and then examined the oldest flower in that truss, noting:-

The general pattern is that they nearly all open from pink buds but rapidly fade to white and I was surprised that even the ones that I had thought of as pinker were in fact nearly pure white by this stage. The colour lasts longest in the veins, particularly towards the outer edges of the petals, and this does seem to be a useful diagnostic character, as do the throat markings. None of them show more than two or three thin lines of small spots and speckles, which are confined to the throat and lead upwards for perhaps one-third of the length of the petal. They do not show the pronounced markings that one sees in some of their offspring, such as ´Avalanche´ and ´Albatross´. I measured the width, from the tip of one lobe to the tip of the opposite; I did not stretch or flatten it. The range was 12.0cm to 14.5cm; most are between 13cm and 14cm. The clones seem all equally scented.

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