Documents: Special Interest: Gardening In England:

Long Lost Rhododendron found at Rosemoor
by Joanna Rowe
June 14, 2009

A long lost variety of Rhododendron – Rhododendron ‘Thomasine’ - has been found by one of the gardeners at RHS Garden Rosemoor, in Great Torrington, Devon, while he was tidying through an area of the original part of the garden.

Jonathan Hutchinson, a Senior Supervisor at Lady Anne’s Garden, was looking through an area of flowering rhododendrons which hadn’t been attended to in a few years, in the hope that some of them could be named. Lady Anne’s Garden was already very well developed when it was handed over to the RHS in 1988 and sometimes plants come to light that are not in the garden records.

In doing so, Jonathan came across an old plant label for Rhododendron ‘Thomasine’, although it was not close to the base of any of the plants in the area. He later discovered one rhododendron with pink flowers, with no plant label attached.

Hoping that the two would match, Jonathan researched his find in the reference books, and even on the internet, but found no records at all. It was only when he asked the plant records officer for help that things started to get exciting; the records showed that this plant was only known from the Herbarium at RHS Garden Wisley, in Surrey, as a painting commissioned in 1931 when the plant had received an Award of Merit.

Jonathan says, ‘It still rather surprises me that although this plant could be classed as being lost, and was slightly overgrown by things around it; it was still flowering well and was easy enough for anyone to see. Just think what other gems there may be in the remoter parts of Lady Anne’s Garden awaiting rediscovery!’

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