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A group of hybrids between V. farreri (V. fragrans) and V. grandiflorum. The cross was first made by Charles Lamont (d. 1949), Assistant Curator at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, in 1933, but he considered the four plants he raised to be no improvement on either parent, and did not propagate them. In the following year and in 1935 the same cross was made at Bodnant, and ten plants were raised, all from seed of V. farreri. One of them received an Award of Merit in 1947; this clone has been named ‘Dawn’, and is also the type of V. × bodnantense, described in 1950 (Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 113). The flowers of ‘Dawn’ are rich rose-red in bud, but the limb eventually becomes white with a strong flush of pink. In size of flower and in other botanical characters it is more or less intermediate between the parents. The flowers are more frost-resistant than in V. grandiflorum and more freely borne. There is a fine group at Kew by the Orangery, the tallest about 10 ft high.
Also belonging to this group is ‘Deben’, raised by Messrs Notcutt (A.M. 1962; F.C.C. 1965). It is a vigorous shrub to about 10 ft high, whose flowers are delicate shell-pink in bud, opening white with a flush of pink. The tube is a trifle longer and more slender than in ‘Dawn’. They are perhaps rather less weather-proof, but lovely in a mild, dry spell in winter.
One of Mr Lamont’s seedlings (see above) has been named ‘Charles Lamont’. The late Rowland Jackman considered it to be finer than ‘Dawn’, with brighter pink flowers, more freely borne (Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 93 (1968), p. 419). It is still scarce in the trade.
It should be emphasised that ‘Dawn’ is not a ‘grex-name’ of the kind once used in the naming of rhododendron crosses, but a cultivar-name for the type-clone, which was named by Dr Turrill and is cultivated at Kew by the Orangery. Some plants sold as ‘Dawn’ are not this clone and differ little in colour of flower from the excellent ‘Deben’.