From the E-Newsletter:
Primeval and Oh So Exotic
Species Rhododendrons with Fabulous Foliage
Living in a region of the world known
for its incredible displays of rhododendrons you probably
think you've seen it all. I thought I had seen it all
until I visited two different gardens: the 400 species
strong collection at the UBC Botanical Garden and my
friend Dana's place. Wow! I quickly realized that there
is a whole world of amazing rhododendrons yet to discover.
Among the most exciting are those species with large
leaves (by large I mean up to 15 inches long!) and those
with interesting furriness (indumentum) in shades
of white, brown and cinnamon. These intriguing species
rhodos are bold and dramatic. Their look is primeval
conjuring visions of exotic mist enshrouded Asian forests.
In the garden they would serve well as focal points
in the shade garden surrounded by ferns, hostas, paris,
ariseamas, solomon's seals and giant himalayan lilies.
Introducing 10 incredible species rhododendrons
currently at the nursery:
R. arboreum ssp. arboreum
has red flowers (occasionally white or pink) and elliptic
leaves up to seven and a half inches long. The leaves
have a silvery white fuzzy indumentum on the undersides.
Grows to six feet in 10 years. Blooms in early spring.
From India, Nepal and Bhutan. Zone 8.
R. auriculatum: White (occasionally
pink) funnel-shaped, fragrant blooms in loose trusses.
The leaves are oblong and up to 12 inches long! Grows
to six feet in 10 years. Blooms in late spring. From
China. Zone 7.
R. cinnabarinum ssp. xanthocodon:
Bell-shaped, semi-pendant, yellow, orange, apricot or
purple flowers. The leaves are broadly elliptic and
a more common four inches long. But they are strongly
fragrant when rubbed! Grows to five feet in 10 years.
Blooms in mid to late spring. From India, Bhutan and
Tibet. Zone 8.
R. fortunei: Open to funnel-shaped,
pale lavender or pale pink to white, fragrant flowers.
Trusses hold 5-12 flowers each. The leaves are up to
seven inches long held with purplish leaf stems to equally
purplish stems. Grows to six feet in 10 years. Blooms
in mid to late spring. From China. Zone 6.
R. macabeanum: Tubular to
narrowly funneled bell-shaped yellow flowers usually
blotched with purple. Each truss holds up to 30 flowers
in a large sphere of yellow. The leaves are broadly
ovate to elliptic and are up to 15 inches long with
a whitish to light tan indumentum. Grows to 5 feet in
10 years. Zone 8.
R. macrophyllum: Our native
rhododendron has broadly bell-shaped, pink to rosy purple,
occasionally white, flowers spotted yellow. The truss
holds 10-20 flowers. The leaves are oblong to elliptic
and up to nine inches long. Grows to five feet in 10
years. Blooms in mid to late spring. From western North
America: British Columbia to California. Zone 7.
R. makinoi: Funneled, bell-shaped,
pink to off-white flowers, sometimes spotted crimson.
Trusses typically have five to eight flowers. Leaves
lanceolate, recurved, up to seven inches long with thick
white to tawny indumentum. Grows to three feet in 10
years into a dense and rounded shrub. Blooms in mid
spring. From Japan. Zone 6.
R. pachysanthum: The funnelled
bell-shaped white to pale pink flowers are usually spotted
green or crimson. Each truss holds 10-20 flowers. The
leaves ovate to lanceolate and up to four inches long.
The upper surface sports a persistent silvery to brown
indumentum. The lower surface has a thick rusty brown
indumentum. Grows to 2 feet tall in 10 years. From Taiwan.
R. rex ssp. fictolacteum:
Oblique bell-shaped white, also pale lilac to pink,
blotched and spotted crimson. The ball-shaped truss
holds 12-30 flowers. Leaves up to 12 inches long with
an attractive rusty brown to dark brown indumentum underneath.
Grows to three feet in 10 years into a dense and rounded
shrub. Blooms in mid spring. From China and northeast
Myanmar. Zone 7.
R. strigillosum: This early-blooming
species has tubular bell-shaped, deep red to crimson-scarlet
flowers with dark red nectar pouches. The flat truss
has 8-12 flowers. The leaves are elliptic to oblanceolate
and are up to seven inches long often with recurved
and bristly leaf edges. From northeastern Yunnan and
Sichuan, China. Zone 7.
Cultivation: Plant in classic rhododenron
conditions: shade to part shade in rich, evenly moist
but well-drained soils. The large-leaved species should
be protected from wind. If you're worried about the
hardiness of the zone 8 species in your gardens plant
them in a protected location where larger trees will
shelter them from frosts and you should be fine.
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