Rhododendron Tessa Group
Rhododendron Tessa Group is a low-growing, upright shrub. It is early blooming, and produces trusses of rosy pink flowers with crimson spots. (These photos were taken on February 20, 2023.) R. Tessa Group has glossy, dark green leaves. It is a lepidote, and has tiny scales on the underside of its leaves. The bark is a lovely reddish-bronze.
R. Tessa Group was hybridized or selected by John Barr Stevenson, an English botanist. He and his wife Roza created 'a living rhododendron museum' at Tower Court, Ascot. There is a cultivar called Rhododendron 'Tessa Roza' which I assume was named after Stevenson's 'green-fingered wife'.
R. Tessa Group is a cross between Praecox (meaning early flowering in Latin), and moupinense (used in the breeding of many early flowering hybrids).
Rhododendron Tessa Group can be found in Bed 46D on the south side of the Rhododendron Walk.
Text and photos by Kumi Sutcliffe