- Sally and I spent the weekend in Vermont.
1) We visited the Hort Farm in Burlington, VT where we were lead on a tour of the property by Hal Bill.
Hal Bill stated that 'Jane Abbott' was a grex, that Frank gave 'Jane Abbott's to anyone and everyone, and that one year he had Pike of UNH fame try to propagate 4000 cuttings and none took.
The Hort Farm had a 'Jane Abbott' given to the Hort Farm by Frank Abbott. The 'Jane Abbott' at the Hort Farm appeared to be different from the one that we saw at Norman Pellet's house that was given to Norman by Frank Abbott.
We think it is save to say with a very high degree of confidence that Frank Abott's 'Jane Abbott' was a grex.
2) We visited the Frank Abbott's old Grafton property and inspected the 25 azaleas we had ploidy tested. AB17 which tested as a tetraploid also turned out to be the 'Margaret Abbott' like plant in the Grafton garden we found on our first visit. So is AB17 'Margaret Abbott'? Very likely but we simply cannot be sure. The fragrance is right, the stamens have the same funny partial petals, the color is almost right. The one in Grafton may, in fact, be the original
'Margaret Abbott'. We rate the chances they are the same plant at over 90%.
So is 'Margaret Abbott' an example of a diploid X tetraploid where the diploid seed parent threw an unreduced gamete? Well Margaret Abbott is known to be seed fertile but has little or no pollen. 'Margaret Abbott' is documented as prinophyllum X calendulaceum by Frank Abbott. Frank is known to have said the
other seedlings from the cross were yellow not white. We rate the chances that 'Margaret Abbott' is an example of a tetraploid formed by an unreduced gamete from a diploid by a tetraploid parent at over 95%. We had seen this happen in elepidotes where the pollen parent is a neotetraploid and the seed parent is a hybrid elepidote. We know that Frank thought this was an unusual occurrence.
Worth noting also is we have seen triploids produce tetraploids in elepidotes and Ramapo as a seed parent produced Ramolet and Purple Gem which is a sister seedling of Ramapo tested as triploid. Purple Gem is documented to be a cross between a diploid seed parent and a tetraploid pollen parent where both parents were lepidote species.
3) In a cemetery in Bellow Falls we found a purple double evergreen azaleas and Frank Abbott is documented by the Arnold Arboretum to have given them a double purple evergreen azalea he called 'Susan Abbott'.
We rate the chances that the double in the Bellow Falls cemetery is 'Susan Abbott' at over 75%. This evergreen azalea is a marginal double that would only be grown in colder climates and very likely was breed in a northern garden. Frank Abbott's business was in Bellow Falls. This evergreen azaleas looks very much like the nondoubles that Frank gave to the Arnold and are still growing at the Arnold.
Although we have not as yet updated the online Frank Abbott article to reflect this year's visits, it is worth mentioning that we do update the foot notes and add pictures to this online article.
The Frank Abbott plants are an on going area of interest for Sally and I.
This is no question in our minds that if tissue culture would have come into it own only 10 years earlier, Saxton River, Vermont would be known as the Little Exbury in the Green Mountains. Frank's azaleas are colorful, fragrant, and very hardy.