One of the best hybrids from the Finnish rhododendron breeding programme is called ’Pekka’, after the Helsinki City Gardener Pekka Jyränkö, who created an important test garden for the programme in the Helsinki suburb of Haaga.
'Pekka' was crossed by putting pollen from one of the old Smirnow Rhododendron (R. smirnowii) hybrids produced by the German Seidel, growing at Mustila, onto the Mustila Rhododendron (R. brachycarpum var. tigerstedtii).
The broad leaves and attractive habit of this hybrid are the first features that catch the eye. Annual growth is strong and the shrub reaches 2 metres in ten years, and continues growing to at least 3 metres. ‘Pekka’ is also one of the best shrubs for dense foliage. At Mustila it grows in very deep shade and hasn’t yet flowered. In better light it would probably both flower and grow denser.
The flowers are small compared with the leaves but their abundance makes up for the lack of size. They are a delicate pink, with brown spots decorating the upper petal.