This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Noticing Mr. Parsons' article on Centennial Rhododendrons, I observe that all which are not hardy here he condemns as only adapted to greenhouse culture, but why could not means be adopted for their protection by housing them in the winter in cold houses or cellars? As another correspondent remarks, they can be kept out of ground a long time with safety, and all familiar with them know that from the nature of their roots, removal is practicable and easy at all times. If Gladioli, Dahlias, and the like are worthy of the annual care they receive, surely such superb shrubs as these under consideration will as well repay the effort to thus protect them. While admitting that those who plant Rhododendrons without regard to soil, situation and subsequent care will be sure to meet with disappointment; I do not think that it is fair to discourage lovers of them, by condemning them as " utterly worthless when planted in the open ground," without stating that many fine varieties besides the "four " alluded to will flourish if proper attention is paid to the locality in which they are planted, etc.
Mr. Nelson took the right course by following nature, as stated by him in his common sense article in your Magazine, p. 259, and if your other correspondents had given some directions as to the best method of planting and protecting, instead of consigning all, or nearly all of this beautiful tribe to oblivion, I think the interests of horticulture would have been better served.
I have the good fortune to live in the neighborhood of the superb collection of Mr. Hunne-well, and I think that any one visiting that gentleman's grounds in the Rhododendron blooming season, if they had tried to grow them and failed, would attribute their failure, not to the want of hardiness in the plants, but to want of skill or attention in their management.
Mr. Hovey who writes somewhat in the same despairing style as your other correspondents, seems to have got himself, or his words rather, a little mixed, when he says: "The Indian blood which carries color, also carries with it a perfect bar to hardihood, of white, pink, rose, rosy lilac, rosy purple, rosy crimson." Now where did we get all these crimson tints if not from Indian blood? And if it carries a "perfect bar to hardihood," what is the use of hybridizers attempting an impossibility? How was one of the very kinds recommended as hardy by your other correspondent, X, (Roseum grandiflorum) produced if not by a cross with Arboreum and Catawbiense? We all know that the latter is purplish lilac, and where could the rose color have originated otherwise than by hybridization or (more properly) impregnation with a variety possessing the crimson color so much desired. I am glad to find that you as Editor of the Monthly take the same view of this subject as I do, when you say that nothing is more delightful than Rhododendron culture intelligently pursued.
I have been deeply interested in it for the past 35 years, and if my practice and views will be of service to your readers, I shall be glad to give them at any time you may wish to open your columns.