rhododendrons galore

It was a dark and stormy day…but we went to the Rhododendron Society‘s sale at the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden anyway.


The main sale is on Mother’s Day, and is held in the parking lot in front of the gardens. This early sale requires a walk through the gardens (such an imposition) to get to the sale.


The Rhodys are the main attraction, but underplantings, like these hellebores, keep it interesting.


Fallen petals…where’s the bride?


Looking back at the gatehouse across the bridge.


Looking the other way, I think this is a flowering plum hovering over the water and backed up by layers of understory.


The birds were having a fine time.


When I mentioned these groves of Rhodys, I was told that without the pruning, no one could walk through the property.


Inside the building glimpsed in the last photo were tables displaying blooms. Members of the society were on hand with a wealth of information.


This group of specimens was tropicals grown in a greenhouse.


R spinuliferum looks almost like a protea, with a cluster of tubular petals (there is no doubt a more scientific name) with threadlike sepals sticking out.


R reticulatum sports magenta blossoms before it leafs out.


Can you believe that this is an azalea? It is apparently in that transitional phase of being renamed, so I won’t add to the confusion here. Suffice it to say that I was blown away by the variety. I learned that with a little (make that a lot) planning, there can be Rhodys blooming in our gardens every month of the year, they can disguise themselves quite craftily, and if you develop an interest, there is a whole community waiting to embrace you. The Portland chapter of the American Rhododendron Society meets every third Thursday at 7:00pm at 40th and Woodstock.

I know what you are thinking: what did you buy?


That large-leaved beauty on the left is the prize: R sinogrande. It might need a bit of babying if we have more harsh winters, and if you know exactly how we should do that, we’re all ears. The one in flower is R oreothrephes, a species in pale lavender. The label says rose, so if it hadn’t been in bloom we would have passed it by. As I was guarding the plants while R went for the car, two different guys stopped to say it was their favorite. Oh, and the two rangy ones are the cheapies: two for $15 because nobody knows their names or what color the blooms will be. They will go out in our mixed hedgerow as a buffer against whatever the neighbors might dream up next.


See how bundled up everyone was? I’m not kidding you…it was COLD!


Across the street from where I was waiting, here is what I was looking at. Can you believe it?

9 thoughts on “rhododendrons galore

  1. ricki that large leaf stunner is to die for. You know I’ll be watching…I so am on the verge of taking the plunge. It’s all up to you now…if it makes it through the winter I want all the details!!! So glad to see you bought it!

  2. Hi Ricki~~ Yes, I agree the R. sinogrande would have been impossible to ignore. I bet those passersby were lamenting its quick sell-out. Lucky you. I’ll be interested to hear of its winter survival too. Maybe a big container on wheels that you can bring into the garage if it gets really cold. …

    Although I’m not a huge fan of Rhodies in my own garden, I sure enjoy seeing them in others’. I haven’t been to Crystal Springs in years so thank you for the trip down memory lane–complete with crappy weather. LOL

  3. Loree~We’ll be taking a page from your playbook and wrapping this guy up if temperatures plunge. I’m thinking maybe a wire cage filled with leaves and then burlap over that. What do you think?

    Grace~Rhodys were a hard sell for me, too. R loves them, so what choice did I have? The more I look, the more I see, to quote Yogi. Surprising variety in leaves and blossoms, and we have lots of space so there’s no sacrifice in giving some of it over to them.

  4. I’ve had R. Sinogrande in the ground for two years now. The super snowy year was it’s first, and that was a rough year, I worried that I’d lost it, but it recovered. This year it really did fine, the leaves got a little droopy, but that’s it.
    I followed the advice of the Chinese Garden to overwinter it. I made a wire cage that I can put in place if things get too chilly. The cage is covered first in a frost cloth that hangs over the top, so I can drape it over the cage at night like a hood, and then in a layer of burlap, mostly because the burlap is more attractive than the stark white frost cloth. I also mulch the roots in bark, steering clear of trunk. Seems to have worked, so far. Good luck with yours, looking forward to comparing notes. Yours is much bigger than mine already.

  5. Megan~You give me heart. If this one bit the dust, I would mourn its passing. I am writing down your advice…nothing like success to build credibility.

  6. I have lusted after that sinogrande for years. I was on the verge of buying one this time last year but just had to admit I had neither the space, the right exposure, or the patience to protect it through the winter. I will always admire it, though, and as I was reading about yours, I thought “I bet Megan will have some good advice to share here!” Funny how we know about each other’s plants almost like people know about each other’s kids. 🙂

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