abc logo Rewards of Growing Rhododendrons as a Hobby
Rhododendron ABC's #26

From A to Z, Alpha to Omega in issues of the chapter newsletter, I have had the privilege of covering the fundamentals of the collection, nomenclature, cultivation, and propagation of plants in the Genus Rhododendron. The points that have been made and discussed are the results of 35 years of study of this remarkable assemblage of plants in the family, Ericaceae. I have thoroughly enjoyed the pursuance of this study as a hobby that always has something new for the enthusiast to learn.

As an example of this at the April Chapter meeting, a member asked me if I knew what was the derivation of the family name, Ericaceae. I had to admit that I did not know but promised to find out. In an 1912 edition of Webster's Dictionary, I discovered that the name is derived from the Latin word for a heath, erice, indicating that the plants in the Family favor a heath-like, acidic environment. This is certainly the case for Rhododendrons!

There is still much more for me to learn about this hobby and I plan to keep at it for as long as I am able. There is really nothing that for me can top the satisfaction of a stroll through my rhododendron collection in the spring blooming season!

In looking back at my efforts over the years, I find that I have had my share of problems, but have always been able to learn from the difficulties and put them behind me. Two things stand out as the most trying. The first is the weather. It is always too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet, too windy or too something Even though weather conditions can cause distress both in the plants and in their caretakers, somehow, one finally comes to the conclusion and realization that the weather is always there and there is not much one can do about it! Except try to minimize any bad effects. Nevertheless, weather is always a concern.

The second most troublesome thing is the matter of plant labeling. I cannot over-stress the need for permanent labels. I confess to having many plants in my collection that are anonymous because labels have been lost.

The wonderful returns one obtains from the hobby far outweighs any negative aspects. I cannot think of any hobby that could give me more pleasure and satisfaction. As a closing statement for my ABC's discussion, I can truthfully say that there is only one real regret that I have and that is: I don't have 35 more years to study and learn more about the Genus RHODODENDRON!

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Dave Goheen