CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Harry Wise loved azaleas. And throughout his long life, he grew, propagated, planted and shared the plants with friends and associates throughout the region.
"Harry was notorious for leaving seedlings with people in hopes that the seedlings would find good homes," said Doug Jolley, a garden enthusiast and good friend of the late Wise. "We were no exception and dozens of these are now the backbone of the garden. These are hybrids between the native azaleas and some true species."
Harry was honored and appreciated by gardeners who specialized in his favorite plants. "Harry's Happy Hour" has won best in show and best foliage in show at the Rhododendron Society flower shows, competing against the finest entries from Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.
"Harry liked using our native Rhodo[dendron] maximum [the state flower] as a parent and max x 'Dexter's Pink,' which has striking deep pink outlined trusses that appear in June," Jolley said. "Harry also thought that foliage was an important aspect to rhododendrons. The 'Wise Maxmak' is a hybrid between our state flower and the pointed leaved Asian species, 'Makinoi.' The result is a fuzzy-foliaged attractive plant that blooms in June."
Other cultivars developed by Wise include a cross between R. austrinum (florida azalea) and R. calendulaceum (flame azalea) named 'Wise Decision,' with fragrant yellow flowers. It's hardy in the Charleston area. The plants come from seed donated by Wise so the plant was named for him. Rare Find Nursery (www.rarefindnursery.com) has the plant but they are on the expensive side.
Jolley, who owns Windbeam Way Nursery, north of Flatwoods in Heaters, enjoyed collaborating with Wise.
"Harry and I headed up a small project that saw plants donated to such places as West Virginia Wesleyan College, the College of William & Mary, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, Blue Ridge Community College, the Orlando White Arboretum of the University of Virginia, The Museum of Frontier Culture and History, Staunton, Va., and a community garden in Hot Springs, Va.," Jolley said.
Jolley's nursery sells native azaleas and unique rhododendrons (many developed by Wise), a dozen or so varieties of viburnums, many varieties of witch hazel, deciduous holly and other shrubs mostly attractive to birds and butterflies. Many of the offerings are not available at other nurseries. The nursery is open Saturdays and Sundays starting in mid-April through mid-June or by appointment at (304) 765-2608.
Green's manager is tops
Recently, I said Joe Greenwood was the manager of Green's Feed and Seed garden center. While he's amazing, the manager is Margie Cooper. She is truly one of the hardest-working people on this earth, and she deserves all of the praises of every person who visits Green's. She's knowledgeable of plants and everything that has to do with growing, and she's so very kind. Sorry for the mistake!
"Life is short, as the pundits say. Blink and we are gone. If we are lucky, we enjoy life, if we are very lucky, we leave behind children who will remember us fondly, and if we are exceedingly lucky, we leave behind a legacy. Legacies take on many forms, but in the world of gardening, there are few more worthy legacies than being associated with a respected garden plant." - Allan M. Armitage, co-author, "Legends in the Garden"
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or (304) 348-1249.