Rhododendron polyanthemum

Awards for Vireya Species at RBGE

In May 2007 the RHS Rhododendron & Camellia Committee visited the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and made awards to six species of vireya rhododendron held in its collection. One species received a 'First Class Certificate' (F.C.C.), the highest accolade awarded to a plant by the RHS, four were granted an 'Award of Merit' (A.M.) and the final species a 'Preliminary Commendation' (P.C.).

These represent the first vireyas to gain awards since 1981. The varietal names have now been registered with Dr. Alan Leslie, who maintains the International Rhododendron Register.

Our thanks to the RHS Rhododendron, Camellia & Magnolia Group for allowing us to reproduce the following images and plant notes from their Year Book.

All photographs © Lynsey Muir, RBGE.

Hover over images for closeup view Hover over images for enlargements.

Rhododendron polyanthemum 'Sheila Collenette' F.C.C.

Rhododendron polyanthemum 'Sheila Collenette'
© Lynsey Muir RBGE

RBGE Accession No. 19799207

Flowering just once a year, this species puts on an immense display of bright orange, scented flowers in the late spring. Surprisingly, this species was not described until 1963 despite now being common on Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah.

This cultivar is named in honour of the original collector of the species who made a significant contribution to the knowledge of vireyas in Sabah and has more recently published a classic work on the flowers of Saudi Arabia.

Rhododendron gardenia 'Jennifer Jean' A.M.

Rhododendron gardenia 'Jennifer Jean' - © Lynsey Muir RBGE

RBGE Accession No. 19769192

A slow growing large plant which has flowered regularly since attaining about 1m in height. It is named after the genus Gardenia noted for its strongly perfumed flowers and it is well named as the large fleshy flowers fill the greenhouse with scent when open and the plant always elicits comment from visitors when in bloom.

It is named after the daughter of the collector who is a passionate environmentalist and field worker in the tropics.

Rhododendron loranthiflorum 'Dick Shaw' A.M.

Rhododendron loranthiflorum 'Dick Shaw'
© Lynsey Muir RBGE

RBGE Accession No. 19839161

This species has been in cultivation since 1964 and was introduced to Britain from Australia in 1983. It performs well wherever vireyas thrive and there have been glowing reports of its performance in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.A. The plants cover themselves in the white slightly scented flowers at least once a year, usually in spring in Edinburgh.

It is named after Richard (Dick) Shaw, formerly assistant curator at the Benmore Botanic Garden, then curator at Kew and finally Edinburgh. Dick was a fiery character who took a lively interest in the Vireya Collection and scientific collections in general when he was in charge.

Rhododendron macgregoriae 'Paddy Woods' A.M.

Rhododendron macgregoriae 'Paddy Woods'
© Lynsey Muir RBGE

RBGE Accession No. 19688041

This collection has been growing for almost 40 years in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It flowers freely, covering itself in bright yellow flowers in the spring and often flowering well at other times of the year. This is one of the easiest species to grow and, coming from relatively low altitudes, is heat tolerant. In the wild this species is very widespread in New Guinea and very variable in flower colour.

This cultivar is a good clear yellow with the flowers produced well clear of the leaves. It is named after Patrick Woods the collector, botanist and horticulturist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. He went on several expeditions to SE Asia collecting plants, took a great interest and published on rhododendrons and orchids.

Rhododendron macgregoriae 'Tom Grieve' A.M.

Rhododendron macgregoriae 'Tom Grieve'
© Lynsey Muir RBGE

RBGE Accession No. 19875242

This clone has light orange, almost bronze flowers which are very freely produced mostly in the spring. It is named after Thomas Grieve, a dedicated plantsman who worked in South America for much of his life but returned to Britain as a gardener at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. He was in charge of the Vireya Collection for a number of years and was the first person to persuade Rhododendron saxifragoides to flower.

Rhododendron rousei 'John Rouse' P.C.

Rhododendron rousei 'John Rouse' - © Lynsey Muir RBGE

RBGE Accession No. 19905026

This species is now grown in collections worldwide and invariably gets favourable comment from growers. The lustrous dark green leaves contrast with the pure white of the flowers which in Edinburgh are often best produced in the gloom of November or December. It was introduced from Sibuyan Island in the Philippines, its only known locality in 1989. It lacks scent but will flower two or three times a year if deadheaded.

Both species and clone are named after Dr John Rouse of Melbourne, Australia, eminent scientist and grower and hybridiser of vireyas.