Vireya rhododendron macgregoriae

R.macgregoiae - the original plant

R.macgregoiae – the original plant

R. macgregoriae is flowering on cue again, as it has for about six decades now. This particular plant is quite historic for us, it being the original vireya rhododendron that Mark’s father, Felix, gathered in the highlands of New Guinea in 1957. In a courageous move, Felix headed over alone, plant hunting in an area where he was apparently the first pale skinned person the indigenous people had seen and a source of great curiosity. We should have asked him more about that trip while he was around to tell us. His thinking was that with altitude in the highlands, the plants may be more tolerant of our temperate conditions. He didn’t bring back a lot that stood the test of time – two beautiful scheffleras, a very odd fig tree (Ficus antiarus) and this resilient vireya rhododendron. This particular plant was used to start his vireya breeding programme and is a parent of ‘Golden Charm’, ‘Orangemaid’ and ‘Buttermaid’. Most gardeners will vouch that vireya rhododendrons tend not to be long lived so this one has achieved a truly venerable age.