Rhododendron ponticum x catawbiense
"Oh to be in Doonaree
with the sweetheart I once knew
To stroll in the shade of the leafy glade
where the rhododendrons grew."
Two specimens of Rhododendron ponticum x catawbiense 'Anah Kruschke' receive afternoon sun in a friend's garden I've helped landscape.
In May & early June it produces reddish purple trumpets with dark crimson-violet freckling in the dorsal petal, in medium-sized cone-shaped trusses of up to twelve trumpets. These blooms show brightly against the sea green evergreen leaves.
'Anah Kruschke' always seems to have a lengthier than average period of bloom, because the buds rather than remaining long encased in green are rich purple pillows gorgeous before opening.
Uncommonly sun-hardy & heat-hardy, as well as winter-hardy to minus 15 degrees F. or even colder, 'Anah Kruschke' can be grown in chilly Zone 5. It can also be grown further south than most temperate rhodies, doing fine in Zone 9.
It is compactly leafed if grown in full sun, a bit leggier in semi-shade. Its ten year height is is a scant five to six feet, but it can eventually become a great deal larger.
This cultivar was introduced in 1973 by Wright's Nursery of Canby, Oregon. That nursery was founded in 1946 by Arthur O. Wright.
'Anah Kruschke' went into serious production at the Kramer Brothers Nursery of Upland, California, for which reason gorgeous mature specimens are to this day most often encountered in northern California gardens.
It was originally bred by Franz Kruschke of Clackamas County, Oregon, & named for his wife Anah. He crossed R. catawbiense x ponticum 'Purple Splendour' with a seed-grown specimen of R. ponticum.
The resulting intraspecies hybrid has become one of the most popular of the Ironclads that exist anywhere in the lavender to purple range of colors, & it has been used in breeding programs that gave rise to further popular cultivars.
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