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Rhododendrons are my thing!

  • Rhododendrons are my thing!
  • Rhododendrons are my thing!
  • Rhododendrons are my thing!
  • Rhododendrons are my thing!
  • Rhododendrons are my thing!
  • Rhododendrons are my thing!
  • Rhododendrons are my thing!

Who, in my view, could not fall for Rhododendrons? Spectacular in flower, they have a huge range of colours, impressive scale, and some heavenly scents. Anyone who has been to one of the big Rhododendron gardens, such as Sheffield Park or Stourhead, when they are in full bloom will know what I mean.

For my part, I'll always remember a wonderful Rhododendron avenue at our wedding reception in the 1950s. It was, however, years before we had a garden with the acid soil they need. In the early 1980s we moved to a house in Devon with a 7-acre garden ... and I got my chance!

The garden already had some Rhodos and Azaleas. I bought more, learnt all I could from books and joined the SW branch of the RHS Rhodo Group, which led to garden visits to widen my knowledge. Meanwhile I obtained plants from a local specialist nursery whose owner suggested I make my own plants from root cuttings.

Thus my Rhododendron nursery began and I have been helping gardeners with their selections now for more than 30 years. The nursery income means I can employ a gardener to help keep the garden (my shop window) in which I now have 300-400 mature species and varieties.

I am delighted to say we still have room for many more!

Here are a few of my favourites:
R. luteum - a very fragrant yellow azalea, which is my top-seller.
R. Loderi 'King George' - a tall scented R. which turns from pink to white.
R. Yakushimanum - a very hardy Japanese species which flowers pink to white in late May on a well-shaped bush. There is a good range of different coloured hybrids of this species.
R. 'Christmas Cheer' - pink/white. Very early, sometimes flowers in December but waits for spring in cold winters.
R. Taurus - blood-red flowers in April look well with daffodils.
R. 'Polar Bear' - scented white flowers which are very late - mid-July to mid-August.
R. Horizon Monarch in my opinion the best tall, yellow rhododendron.

We particularly enjoy sharing the pleasure of the plants in bloom each year via our NGS garden openings in May. See my Grower page for details.

Comments (4)

  1. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Thanks for sharing your love of rhododendrons, I so wish I could come and see your nursery and garden. And I agree, who could not fall for rhododendrons?!

    In my tiny garden I have ‘Christmas Cheer’, ‘Dopey’ and ‘Geisha Purple’. I know azaleas are now renamed rhododendrons but for me, my Geisha Purple will always be an azalea. I plan to get another hardy azalea this year to put next to my Geisha and I wish I could give all the 6 other brothers of Dopey a home in my garden, but I really can’t find space for them – as lovely as they all are!

    I would absolutely love to have R. 'Polar Bear', but after looking it up and finding mature height and width I think I will have to pass :-)

    • Rhododendrons are my thing!
    • Rhododendrons are my thing!
    • Rhododendrons are my thing!
  2. Grower

    WrightRhodos

    Thank you Helene. You were lucky you didn't come to our NGS garden at the weekend. Saturday's weather was about the worst we've had opening the garden in May in 32 years. Cold, blustery and wet, the tent we had for teas blew away twice ... and only 14 people turned up! On a fine day we can get 200.

    Next weekend will sadly be our last NGS opening. We are not as young as we were and the openings are a lot of work. I will still, however, be selling plants from the nursery and will happily show customers round the garden when they make an appointment to visit.

    The good news is that the weather forecast for next weekend is a lot better ;-)

  3. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    Oooh, I bet the weather was bad, it was bad even here in my sheltered London garden! I have around 350 pots and containers from the smallest to the largest, and had to go and put most of them down on the ground as they kept blowing over.
    The weather is looking promising from Wednesday and onwards over here, which is good, there is so much to do in the garden :-)

  4. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Interestingly, I was at Stourhead yesterday and noticed how the most fragrant yellow Rhododendron, R. luteum, has been strategically planted. At least 30 of them are dotted along the circular walk around the lake - one every 50 to 100 metres or so. The impact is sensational at this time of year - every few minutes as you walk you get hit by wafts of their heady perfume. It really makes the Stourhead experience.

    • Rhododendrons are my thing!
    • Rhododendrons are my thing!
    • Rhododendrons are my thing!
    • Rhododendrons are my thing!

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