Rhododendrons - selection
Since time immemorial, people decorated their dwellings and gardens and, besides vegetables, they tried hard to grow also decorative prant. And then, every garden could boast with exotic plants, sometimes domesticated and successfully spread and further multiplied. Rhododendrons belong to them. First species from overseas were imported to Europe in 17th century by Dutch. It was import from Japan. Subsequent imports followed in 18th century when French carried some Rhododendron species from the eastern shore of United States. More imports followed, either from Asia or America. However, the greatest credit goes to Englishmen, evidently also thanks to virtually ideal climate for Rhododendron growth and selection. The first cross-breed was made by an Englishman – he cross-breeded two American Rhododendrons. One was evergreen, the other wan was deciduous – which made so called Azaleodendron variant that is spread until today via new cultivars.
However, the real expansion of Rhododendron selection happened after the import of Himalaya species to England in the second part of 19th century, with beginning selections and cross-breedings of aromatic species with lush growth and abundant flowerage. Rhododendrons came to Czech Republic from Western Europe in 19th century through the university botanical garden in Prague. Natheless, the real boom of Rhododendron selection came with the establishment of Průhone park as well as dendrological association. Rhododendron selection alone is, in Czech Republic, solely a matter of Průhone park.