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«PROGRAMME General Meetings are held at EITHER at the Municipal Horticultural Centre, Jolimont Rd, Vermont. Mel 62 G4 OR the National Rhododendron ...»

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THE RHODODENDRON NEWSLETTER

OCTOBER 2011

Published by the

Australian Rhododendron Society, Victorian Branch Inc. (A5896Z)

P.O. Box 500, Brentford Square, Victoria 3131

Email: secretary@vicrhodo.org.au

Telephone: 0418 340 240

Editor: Simon Begg Ph: (03) 9751 1610

email: simonwbegg@gmail.com

ARSV Website: www.vicrhodo.org.au

Picture site http://picasaweb.google.com/ARSVic

PROGRAMME

General Meetings are held at EITHER at the Municipal Horticultural Centre, Jolimont Rd, Vermont. Mel 62 G4 OR the National Rhododendron Garden, The Georgian Rd Olinda, unless otherwise stated.

OCTOBER 2011 TH – 2.00PM. NATIONAL RHODODENDRON GARDEN. Meet in the SUNDAY 9 volunteer‟s lunch room to meet Neil Puddey, vireya specialist. (See information inside) SATURDAY 29TH OCTOBER to TUESDAY 1ST NOVEMBER – CUP WEEKEND.

RHODODENDRON SHOW at the National Rhododendron Garden. See schedule included.

We need your help to fill the show benches and make the show a highlight for visitors to the garden so please bring along a few blooms from your garden.

NOVEMBER 2011 TH FRIDAY 18 AGM and GENERAL MEETING at NUNAWADING 8.00PM. This is a vital meeting which may well determine the future of the ARSV.

We need your input. Do you care?

DECEMBER 2011 TH SUNDAY 11 12.00PM Christmas lunch at LES CHESSELLES French Restaurant at Mont de Lancey Museum and Homestead. $15per person (subsidised by the ARSV).

BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL Phone or email Marcia Begg by 1st December or book and pay at the November Meeting. (Details inside) Ph: 9751 1610, Email:mnbegg@gmail.com JANUARY 2011 st nd SATURDAY & SUNDAY 21 & 22 - LILIUM AND VIREYA SHOW AT FERNY CREEK HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY 100 Hilton Rd Ferny Creek. Included in the schedule are hydrangeas, roses and other species. Schedules are available from Mike and Inge Hammer Ph: 9755 2176 or FCHS.

THURSDAY 26TH AUSTRALIA DAY BBQ at NRG, 6.00PM. BYO everything. BBQ supplied. Those who would like to take a walk around the NRG meet near the lunchroom at

5.00pm. For more information ring the Hammers 9755 2176 or Beggs 9751 1610.

PRESIDENTS REPORT

After a very wet first half year, and a very cold winter, the last 2 months have proven to be rather on the warm and dry side although we are still well above average rainfall for the year to date. I note that we are moving back towards La Nina conditions which would normally imply increased rainfall but the southern Indian Ocean is supposedly warming which was a factor in the last 9 years of drought. Which will dominate over the coming summer? We will have to wait and see.

The $200,000 the society helped to obtain for the gardens is being used to cover Dan‟s salary for the next 3 years, an excellent use of the money in my opinion.

For many years there has been talk of establishing a vireya house at the NRG but the problem has always been how much will it cost and where to put it. A recent suggestion is to convert the propagating glass house near the toilets at the far end of the top road into a Vireya house, relocate the quarantine glass house to the growing on area and use it as a propagating house.

This is an excellent suggestion. The current glass house is underutilized and would make much more sense as a display house. It is also ideally positioned for such a purpose. I applaud the suggestion and hope it is acted on.

As you all know, the ARS annual meeting and election of office bearers is coming up in November. I have made it clear that for a variety of reasons I will not accept nomination for another year as President. Thus this is my last president‟s report. We currently have no treasurer, no vice president, a less than complete committee and in November, possibly no president. It is time for those who care about the society and wish to see it continue to step up and commit some time to the running of the society. By far the most active group within the society is the Tuesday group that work in the gardens. Indeed, of late this group has been growing slightly. Maybe the Tuesday group should consider taking over management of the society. There is no reason why committee meetings could not be held at the gardens on a Tuesday morning so there would be minimal inconvenience. The task can be scaled back to the point where it does not need to be particularly onerous or time consuming. This society has a proud history and has achieved a great deal. A major reason for its initial formation was the creation of the National Rhododendron Garden and this remains a very cogent reason for its continued existence. Please help it to do so.

Our show is coming up at the end of October and we will be occupying half the hall at the NRG. Please consider putting in some entries. The new lessee of the hall has indicated that after this year there will be a substantial charge for use of the hall for any future shows and the hall may not be available during our normal October – early November period. This raises a question as to whether future shows will be held at the gardens or at another venue. It will be up to the new committee to decide.

One of my major focuses over my time as president has been to promote the NRG and seek to have it declared Melbourne‟s cool climate Botanical Garden. I believe the promotion has helped the gardens and I note that this, plus of course free entry to the gardens, has boosted attendances from around 26,000 per year to close to 100,000 per year. The 50 th anniversary conference also promoted the gardens internationally. I can only hope that eventually the incredible value of these gardens will be recognized politically and they will be accorded the status they deserve. I will continue to promote them to the best of my ability.





I would also like to thank all those people who have helped me over my time as president. It is much appreciated.

Michael Hammer

RHODO CORNER

Alan Kepert has been in hospital for repairs and was not able to write his usual Species Column. Ian Wallace and Norm Brown from Ferny Creek Horticultural Society have very kindly agreed to allow Newsletter to reprint their article. Ed.

The Lapponicum Series of the Genus Rhododendron This series (alternatively classified as the Subsection Lapponicum of the Section Rhododendron) contains the largest natural group of truly dwarf alpine rhodo species, rarely exceeding five feet in height. They have aromatic evergreen leaves with dense scales on both surfaces, making them Lepidotes.

The flowers are mostly in purple or pink shades with the odd yellow displayed in small terminal trusses or in some cases singly. The flowers themselves are generally funnel-shaped or tubular and not of a very thick texture, which can cause them to be easily damaged by windy wet weather. Most have short flower storks with the calyx and the seed capsule also quite small.

Their normal distribution covers a large area of Western China down to Tibet and the Eastern Himalayas, and reaching high altitudes which generally makes them cold resistant, but all must have good drainage.

There are many worthwhile plants garden plants in the series, most of which will do well in the Dandenongs and the foothills, but are very difficult on the lower slopes. One definite plus is that they generally flower as young plants. If they become leggy or misshapen they can be pruned with electric shears after flowering without causing too much harm.

Many of these plants have been used in hybridizing, particularly with the Triflorum Series (Triflorum Subsection), eg. R. augustinii, to create a wide range of almost blue hybrids originally for the Northern Hemisphere.

To show the smaller members of the series at their best, and if room permits, it is better to plant them in groups of three or more to achieve the full effect of massed colour.

Some Lapponicum species that are still likely to be available.

 R. chryseum. Can be cream to yellow with 4-5 flowers in truss and height to 2 feet.

Goes well with purple.

 R. fastigiatum. Light to dark purple, 4-5 flowers in truss, height to 3 feet, good glaucous foliage.

 R. hippophaeoides. Lavender blue flowers, compact truss, height to 5 feet, likes a moist area, early flowering. „Haba Shan‟ is probably the best form.

 R. impeditum. Commonly grown, small purple flowers vary in colour, true dwarf.

 R. lapponicum. [photo page 10 ]The series type. Flowers purple, 3 to a truss, height to 3 feet. Difficult to grow.

 R. intracatum. Lavender to mauve flowers in compact truss, height to 3 feet, one of the best.

 R. rupicola. Commonly yellow, but best form plum crimson, outstanding, height to 2 feet, can be leggy. (If anyone has it Ian Wallace would like a cutting please!!)  R. russatum. Flowers reddish to intense violet, 4-6 to a truss, height 2-6 feet, leaves can be up to 2.5inches long.

 R. scintillans. Flowers purple rose to royal blue, 2-3 in a truss, height to 3 feet, tends to be straggly in shade.

 R. websterianum. Flowers can be purple, but mostly pale blue in Australia. Height 3 feet, keep moist.

Some hybrids which are likely to be available.

 „Blue Tit‟, nice foliage, pale mauve, average flowers. (R.impeditum x R. augustinii)  „Ilam Violet‟, one of the best deep violet flowers, can grow tall in time. (R. augustinii x R. impeditum).

 „Intrifast‟, good foliage, violet-blue flowers, low compact grower, (R. intricatum x R.

fastigiatum)  „Ocean Lake‟, deep blue, early, low dense bush. (“Blue Diamomd‟ x „Sapphire)  „Saint Breward‟, larger truss, good violet blue with low spreading habit, will grow taller in time, so use shears. (R. augustinii x R. impeditum)  „Saint Merryn‟, another good dark violet blue with low spreading habit. („Saint Tudy‟ x R. impeditum)  „Chikor‟, yellow flowers, small leaves which seem very dark for a rhodo. (R. chryseum x R. ludlowii)  „Ramapo‟, bright violet flowers, good grey young foliage, will take sun. (R. fastigiatum x minus Carolinianum Group)  „Russautinii‟, best forms of deep lavender, only buy this one when in flower, taller grower. (R. russatum x R. augustunii) Personally, Ian thinks „Blue Diamond‟ is superseded as it will not tolerate overhead shade.

The above are just a few that may still be around.

VIREYA SPECIES COLUMN

R acrophilum [photo page 12 ] Classification According to Dr George Argent 2006 Rhododendrons of subgenus Vireya RHS R acrophilum is in Section VII Euvireya subsection iv Malesia. But recent published papers [see page ] assert that subgenus Vireya should now be section Schistanthe and that the section comprises four subsections rather than the seven sections of Dr Argent‟s classification. One of these four is Euvireya. Dr Argent‟s subsection Malesia is a large one with 53 species very widely spread geographically extending from Vietnam to New Guinea with members in most places in between. R acrophilum is among the Philippines species Dr Argent places in subsection Malesia in common with R taxifolium, R bagabonum, R rousei and R mendumiae. All of these are known in Australia.

Name and origin Greek- acro; summit, philus; loving; summit loving. So named because the original collection was described as made at the summit of Mt Mantalingahan with white flowers. Dr Argent thinks this is an error as the species has yellow and orange flowers and is found at a single location at about 1725m on Mt Mantalingahan as an epiphyte in dense montane rain forest.

Why choose to write about this species?

Dr Argent op cit 207 says that this species was introduced into cultivation in 1992 and

flowered for the first time as small 15 cm plants in 1993. He continues:

“It has proved to be a really good horticultural plant, with its compact habit, bright green leaves and freely produced, usually bicoloured, orange and yellow flowers. It flowers irregularly at least twice, at different times of the year, new buds being encouraged by prompt deadheading. Winter flowers when the plants are in poor light can be pure yellow, the same plants in the summer producing bicoloured flowers with deep orange lobes: plants growing in climates with really strong light can be completely orange.” Marcia and I saw this species in flower in Edinburgh at the end of August. One plant covered in flower was at the entrance to the Royal Botanic Garden, appropriately with a 3m Wollemi Pine in the background. We saw it again in full flower at Botanica The Rhododendron Park, Bremen, in the first week of September. We can say first hand it is definitely worth cultivating. I don‟t have one but Andrew Rouse does. Of course the fact that a species thrives in glasshouses in Northern Europe does not mean it will thrive in Melbourne or Olinda. But well worth a go.

Description According to Dr Argent op cit. the species is a shrub to 1m. Plants in Edinburgh were close to that. With internodes 1.5-4cm the plant should not be straggly. Leaves 4-6 in tight to somewhat loose pseudowhorls covers a lot of possibilities. Blade 25-50 x 10-20mm elliptic or slightly obovate; apex broadly acute, obtuse to rounded; margin entire, flat, base broadly tapering; sub-densely scaly on both sides, glabrous and shiny above, more persistently scaly below. Inflorescence of 3-5 flowers in an open umbel, mostly horizontal but sometimes semi erect to half hanging, usually bi coloured with a yellow tube and orange lobes. Corolla 15-30 x 40-55 shortly tubular funnel shaped; tube 10-15 x 6-7 x 12-17 mm.

Simon Begg

A NEW STATUS AND A NEW NAME FOR VIREYAS?

Dr George Argent Rhododendrons of subgenus Vireya RHS 2006, 19 proposed Subgenus Vireya under the genus Rhododendron “as an attempt at a practical way of dividing the group so that species can be identified and

named. It is based on what can be recognised morphologically.” Dr Argent continues:

“Recent molecular work has not yet given a clear, unequivocal way of marrying morphology to morphological groups. This classification is based largely on that developed by Professor Sleumer (1949, 1960, 1966) but it incorporates the observations and treatment of Copeland (1929, 1943) and observations made particularly on the living collections in Edinburgh”.



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