Tappan Zee Chapter, American Rhododendron Society Rhododendron 'Nova Zembla'
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Allan & Shirley Anderson, a retired chemist and a science teacher respectively, have gardened and raised rhododendrons in Franklin Lakes New Jersey (Zone 6) for more than thirty-five years. In 1968, upon joining the New Jersey Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society, they discovered there were many different kinds of rhododendrons. An interest in growing plants using seed from the ARS seed exchange program developed, and from this beginning, crosses were made with little or no goal in mind other than to see a new, beautiful plant.

On trips to ARS conventions on the West Coast they were dazzled by the yellow and warm-colored trusses with large flowers. They decided to focus on developing similar plants which would grow and thrive in the much colder Northeast climate.

The Andersons have made over 1200 hand pollinated crosses and grown more than 20,000 seedlings. The first plants registered were from a cross made in 1976. Two plants were named, Amanda Joan Young and Kelsey Lynn Young, after their grandchildren. Following these, five more plants have been named and registered, the most recent in 2006, called April Rhapsody.

Many promising seedlings are now being evaluated from second and third generations of their hybridizing program. and several more plants are being considered for naming and registration.

The Andersons' Latest Hybrids

Rhododendron 'Ghost Bomber'  
Ghost Bomber

During one of our many trips to visit Weldon Delp we acquired Ghost, one of his hybrids.  A dwarf to medium white hybrid, a cross of  [(R. maximum x R. yakushimanum) X  R. maximum].  We hoped to transfer it’s good plant habit to a red by crossing Ghost with Red Bomber.  We did not get solid red flowers but liked the results.

Rhododendron Sun Dust Rhododendron Sun Dust truss

Sun Dust

Nancy Evans is a well known western hybrid widely used to develop new plants.  Unfortunately the plant is pollen sterile so one must own the plant in order to make crosses with it.  We crossed Nancy Evans with Janet Blair, a favorite parent of ours.  Many seedlings from this cross were of indifferent quality but one dazzled us with its color and habit.  Thus we called it Sun Dust.

Silk Road rhododendron  

Silk Road

When we crossed R. brachycarpum v Tigerstedii with Phipps Yellow we hoped to get yellow flowers with the   glossy green foliage  of R. brachycarpum.  We were disappointed with the very pale flowers but the foliage was good. We chose to use Nelda Peach pollen obtained  from a Western friend.  Nelda is a strongly colored Cameo cross.  The result was a wonderfully compact plant with trusses of the palest pink we have ever seen.  The flowers are over 4 inches across.  We love it.  What happened to the color?  So much for strategy!



For many years our hybridizing focus has been to produce yellow flowering plants hardy in our Eastern garden, hot & humid in the summer plus very cold in the winter.  One plan was to have yellow and hardiness in bothe parents.  Top Banana, a western yellow of good intensity was crossed with R. brachycarpum.  The result of this cross was in turned crossed with Delicate Air, one our own hybrids.  This process was proven successful in producing Entourage.

Rhododendron 'Leggs'  


A cross in 1981 put A. Bedford on Labar’s White, a form of R. catawbiense.  The result was a large, blue purple flower with a large, dark blotch.  Growing in a crowded space under our original rule of  ‘no pruning until blooming’,  it grew tall and leggy. Eventually it was cut back and grew into an attractive rhododendron.  We decided to register the plant and keep the phunney spelling.

Prom Queeen rhododendron Prom Queen (pink) with Rhododendron Cloud in background

Prom Queen

In 1989 we crossed Janet Blair with Dave Goheen’s Yellow #1.  One of the seedlings flowered with a beautiful blend of yellow and orange.  In spite of our fervent hopes it proved to be too tender to grow successfully in our garden.  Meanwhile we had used the pollen from 89-40 on Yaku Sunrise, a well known Western hybrid also tender in our garden.  Result a pink, floriferous plant bring memories of  early times. How does a hardy hybrid result from a cross of two tender parents?  Probably because each has at least one hardy ancestor.  Go figure!

The Andersons' Earlier Hybrids

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