We are pleased to present two more pieces by Bill Dale of George Fraserís contribution to the development of rhododendrons and other plants in our BC history.
R. Albert Close
This is another of Fraserís hybrids that was grown and named by Joseph Gable.† It is of the same parentage as R. George Fraser which it resembles both leaf- and flower-wise, although I do believe that the flowers are slightly lighter on Albert Close.
When it bloomed for Gable he named it in honour† of Albert Close, the chief propagator at the department of Plant Introduction Station at Glenn Dale, Maryland.† The rhododendron is described by Gable as ďhardy, late, a shy bloomer.† Somewhat straggly and open with attractive foliage:† flowers medium size, bright rose pink with throat heavily spotted chocolate red; compact conical truss; can take sun; (seed from Fraser).Ē
The cuttings can be obtained from an Albertt Close growing at the Tyler Arboretum in Lima, PA.† The plant in the Tyler Arboretum garden had been obtained initially from Joseph Gable of Stewartstown, Pennsylvania.† I obtained my plant from the nursery of Pat and Everett Jefferson at Qualicum Beach, BC.† It is now about 8 feet tall and cuttings have been taken to go to Ucluelet.
Fraser was trying to develop hybrid rhododendrons which he could sell at an early age, yet be confident of their colour when they bloomed.† He had a breeding system whose plants would reliably produce red, white or pink flowers.† From his correspondence with Gable we learned that he had developed at least 19 hybrids, none of which he named and none of which are now known.† One that he called Fraserís Pink he gave to his friend Bud Thompson in Ucluelet.† This plant is still growing where it was planted in Budís garden, and when Bud showed it to Dr. Stuart Holland and myself in 1986 it was a mass of pink blooms on a plant at least 15 feet tall.
Last year Budís son, DíArcy, brought some cuttings of this plant to me and I asked Evelyn Weesjes if she would try to propagate them.† Evelyn was very successful in doing this, and gave me several good plants.† DíArcy now has one of these; he planted one beside the Fraser Memorial Stone in Ucluelet when it was dedicated on May 19, 2001; and I have one in my garden with other Fraser hybrids.