"Nature pleases, attracts, delights,
merely because it is nature.
We recognize in it an Infinite Power."
-Karl Wilhelm von Humboldt
The tricolored flowers of the elipidote rhododendron 'George's Delight' have creamy yellow-white interior, darker yellow deeper in the throat, & edged in vibrant rosy pink.
There can be considerable variation in the tricolor arrangement as the blossoms have more white in the center when first opened, aging to more yellow; & aging from purely rose-pink edging to darker pink sometimes mixing in a bit of salmon-apricot.
There can be as many as thirteen individually large (three-inch) blooms per truss, making for an enormous blossoming in May. It flowers readily & intensely. It likes bright shade, as too much sun fades the flowers prematurely.
The second photo shows it alongside 'Vulcan' simultaneously aflower. Further in the background is some wild salal creeping further into the garden.
Although 'George's Delight' has the general appearance of a large-leafed, large-flowering, huge-sized rhododendron, it is actually quite slow-growing & compact & suited to smaller as well as larger gardens. It's ten-year height is a scant three feet, usually a bit wider than tall.
It was developed in 1967 here in the Pacific Northwest by William Whitney. He crossed the yellow 'Crest' aka 'Hawk Crest' (R. wardii x R. 'Lady Bessborough') to a non-production shrub designated only 'Whitney 6002.'
Besides the western Chinese species R. wardii it also has in its complex hybrid history R. fortunei & R. campylacocarpum & no one knows what all else. The heritage of most of the Whitney Farms creations are poorly recorded for three reasons: 1) paperwork wasn't something Bill Whitney was interested in; 2) he did not so often cross primary species as he would cross complex cultivars to complex cultivars, & 3) most of his creations were not really introduced to the world beyond the immediate circle of hybridizer friends & his nursery's regional customers until well after his daughter & son-in-law took over the nursery.
He was a completely self-taught hybridizer with no horticultural background. In 1931 at the age of thirty-seven he visited Malmo Nursery in Seattle & was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the rhododendrons that he bought thirty of them on the spot, with which to landscape his own yard. Within six years he was heavily inolved with the Northwest's extensive & close-knit community of rhododendron breeders.
In 1955 the Whitneys moved to Brinnen, Washington, where Whitney Gardens situated between the glacially formed Hood Canal & the Olympic Mountains remains to this day a veritable tourist attraction. The nursery is still in the family. Bill's daughter Ann & her husband George Sather (for whom 'George's Delight' was named) took over the business in 1970.
It has a fantastical garden of gigantic rhododendrons (in the twenty-foot-plus range!) which begin to reach their annual height of flowering glory about mid-April. Many of their giant specimens are the most redolent of evergreen rhodies, not to mention the sweetly scented deciduous azaleas.
It is well worth a long car-journey to visit their nursery, & return home with something special for the garden. While in Brinnen, which is hardly even one block large, be sure to have lunch at the roadside cafe next door to the nursery. It's a splendid cafe & their individually baked pots of marion berry pie is just about the best pie on earth.
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