March 1, 2015 – Over 20 years ago, Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens Executive Director, Harold Sweetman, germinated seed from special hand-pollinated hybrid crosses and open pollinated evergreen azaleas. When seed is collected from open pollinated flowers, the insects do all the work. With over 1,000 different named cultivars of evergreen azaleas in the gardens at Jenkins, there is a unique possibility for interesting new hybrids. As is the case with many flowers, the location and morphology of the female pistol and the male pollen bearing anthers is such that flowers usually are not self-pollinated. We only know the seed parent plant and may never know the pollen parent but this serendipitous event can be magical.
After growing seedlings in the nursery at Jenkins for more than 20 years, several azaleas have been evaluated and are worthy of propagation and official registration of a cultivar name with the Royal Horticultural Society in England. Our annual gala, Spring Blooms: A Lavish and Leafy Celebration on June 6, will be the first naming opportunity for plants from the research nursery. We hope you will join us for this event that will feature a rare live auction for the naming rights of new cultivars of azaleas and rhododendrons.