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The Rhododendron

THE RHODODENDRON.

The heath family, of about sixty-seven genera, distrib uted over the temperate and tropical countries of the earth, has twenty-one genera in the United States, seven of which have tree representatives. Azaleas, the multi tude of the heathers, the huckleberries, the madroftas, call to mind flower shows we have seen—under glass, in gardens, in parks, and among mountain.fastnesses bright ened by the loveliness of the mountain laurel, azalea, and rhododendron.. In this wonderful family the leaves are simple and mostly evergreen. Rarely are the fruits of any importance. It is the flowers in masses that give the chief distinction to a family with over a thousand species, which have been the subjects of study and culti vation through centuries. The type of the family is the Scotch heather, immortalized in song and story. In London the Christmas season is marked by the sale of half a million little potted plants of heather! Each is about a foot in height and bears a thousand tiny bells, rosy, with white lips. This is the poor man's Christmas flower. It costs a shilling and lasts a month or more.

Trees are scarce in the heath family. Shrubs are in the majority. The azaleas, which the Belgian gardeners have brought to such perfection and developed in such a great number of varieties, arc among the best known of the heaths. The profuse blossoms in potted azaleas entirely extinguish the foliage, and the flowers are almost as lasting as if they were artificial.

The genus rhododendron in American woods is repre sented by a mountain shrub and a tree. Both are ever green and both are widely planted for ornament during the entire season. Carloads of these wonderful plants are shipped from the mountain slopes of the Alleghanies for mass planting on rocky ground, and to cover embank ments along the drives in great estates. Because of the altitude of their native habitat, they are hardy in New England, and even as far as the Great Lakes. In time of bloom, these masses are the great flower show of the coun tryside, and in winter nothing is more beautiful than the evergreen foliage of rhododendrons, lifted out of the snow.

family, mountain and flower