September Song

'September Song'
Evergreen Rhododendron

"I thought I glimpsed a path that led
Through rhododendron days
And fuchsia nights to the boatshed
In which we two once lay."

-Warren Zevon


'September Song' would seem to have been named after the often-covered love-song with lyrics by Lindsey Buckingham, which run in part, "The autumn weather turns the leaves to flame/ And I haven't got the time for the waiting game."

It seems an odd choice of name for a shrub that blooms late April & May, & which has no change in leaf-color for its evergreen leaves come autumn. Perhaps someone thought the color of the flowers evoked autumn, but if so, I would like to visit that strange place where autumn leaves turn candy-corn orange & yellow.

September SongThe large trusses of trumpet flowers are yellow-orange with peachy-pink highlights in the throat. This is an unusual color for an evergreen rhododendron, & more reminiscent of certain deciduous azaleas.

The ten-year height of 'September Song' is four feet, with five foot width, with vigorous compact growth. It likes filtered sunlight, though in this garden which I helped a friend landscape, it had already been planted in full sun long before I began working on there, & it seems to be doing just fine.

A relatively new cultivar, it was not registered until 2000, though it has been around since about 1988. It was bred from yellow-to-orange R. dichroanthum x decorum 'Dido' pollinated by the Glen Dale hybrid introduced by the Arnold Arboretum, R. fortunei 'Fawn.'

It was bred by Dr. Carl Phettelace of Eugene, Oregon, & put into production by Harold Greer of Oregon's Greer Gardens. So 'September Song' is truly of the Pacific Northwest. It is presently being used in breeding programs to develop future peach/apricot to orange cultivars.


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