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Rhododendron Loderi and its varieties and Hybrids

R. ´Loderi´ has also been successfully used, both at Leonardslee and elsewhere as a parent plant in the making of other hybrids. A particularly successful cross is with R. sutchuenense, producing ´Seagull´ (A.M.1938) and ´Seamew´ (A.M. 1940) which has a magnificent truss of flower in March as well as a beautiful habit and foliage.

The cross with R. irroratum, producing ´White Glory´ (A.M.1938) and ´Pink Glory´ (A.M. 1940) is another early flowerer of equal hardiness. Allied with ´Queen Wilhelmina´ producing ´Sunset´ (A.M. 1931); ´Halopeanum´ producing ´Snow Queen´ (A.M.1934); ´Barclayi´ producing ´Cretonne´ (A.M. 1940) and ´Cornish Cross´ producing ´Ruthelma´ and H.Whitner, vigorous plants with large out-standing trusses have been made, many with deeper shades of colour that any pure Loderi.

Further progeny of these crosses show promise too, ´Mrs C. Whitner´ (Snow Queen x Loderi Sir Edmund) gaining an award in 1935. All these hybrids have good erect habit, have proved perfectly hardy and are strong growers.

In favourable surrounding, R. Loderi grows to a large size, and indeed the original plants are still growing well. In some case they have reached a height of around 25 feet and have a circumference of 80 feet, being well clothed down to the ground.

The amount of flower that these plants carry is staggering, the buds first standing up like pink candles of a Christmas tree. Then as they gradually open, the trusses obliterate all sign of the foliage beneath. The number of trusses on a large plant runs into several thousand, so that the weight of this crop of flowers runs into a matter of hundredweights. It is essential if the plants are to flower well the following year, to pick off the dead flower heads before the strength of the plant has gone into forming seedpods, which are a large size.

In fact such is the profusion of flowers in some years that 50 per cent. of the flower buds can be picked off before they open so that the remaining trusses can show their individual beauty better. Flowering as they do (in Sussex) about the middle of May, the buds are seldom caught by late frosts, and as an illustration of their hardiness, the flowers which were picked for a stand of varieties of R.Loderi which gain a Gold Medal at the 1950 R.H.S. Rhododendron Show were gathererd during a heavy snowstorm at the end of April (it being an exceptionally early year) yet the flowers on the plants which had to withstand several inches of snow for a couple of days were equally as good as those picked earlier, and later buds showed no sign of frosting.

R. ´Loderi´ shows itself to the best advantage in open woodland. The young growths have very attractive long bright red bracts and to see a large plant covered with these bracts standing up is almost as good as a second flowering season.

No trouble has been experienced with autumn frosts catching them before they had hardened; nor has bud blast yet shown itself on the plants.

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