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Rhododendrons


Killer Plants: Ghastly Beauties

Killer Plants: Ghastly Beauties


Posted on Nov 11, 2015 | 0 comments

Ghouls and Goblins won’t kill you. But these killer plants could.

Many of the garden plants we grow for ornamental reasons got their vibrant, exotic colors as nature’s way of saying “Warning—Poison!” While most of these are innocuous enough sitting in pots or in the garden, if ingested they could cause illness of varying severity, and sometimes even death.

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We’ve all got our favorite color, that one that just seems to “pop” for us more than all the others. For me, that color is orange; nothing seems quite so vibrant as a bright orange bloom on a sunny day. Whenever I come across a particularly beautiful tangerine colored specimen. I think about how good it would look in a whole orange themed arrangement. That’s why I put together this garden design. To serve as a planner for myself and the other orange-aholics out there.
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Which Azalea is Right For You?

Which Azalea is Right For You?


Posted on Sep 8, 2006 |

The Encores are on everyone’s list these days, and why not? They are fantastic houseplants, sending out blooms almost every month of the year if kept indoors properly. (Speaking of Scots, this year-round bloom business reminds me of Miss Walker of Drumsheugh. She felt about plants the way her fellow Victorians seemed to feel about children: why stop at just one or two if you can have a dozen? Now, Rhododendrons were streaming into Britain at this time, so Miss Walker could have stocked her considerable garden with many, many more. But she “restrained” herself to about 50, choosing them carefully to assure herself of having at least one in bloom every month of the year! This was in 1860, no less, and here we are nearly 150 years later, still limiting our gardens to spring bloomers with the occasional fall rebloomer! –Of course, Miss Walker had a few pennies to rub together, and a lovely conservatory, and plenty of staff, and leisure time — all those perks of a bygone age!)

But back to modern times. The Encores are absolutely priceless for gardeners who can’t bear to see the end of those spring blooms: they should grow several indoors for yearround beauty and more in the garden, where they send out a few summer blossoms and then fully bloom again in autumn.

Beyond the Encores, we carry a good line of many of the major groups: the Exburys, Leaches, Robin Hills, and even a Tony Shammarello and a bonsai Satsuki. For customers looking for cold-hardiness, Golden Lights is absolutely the best. It’s hardy into zone 4, and was bred in Minnesota, so you can imagine it’s felt a chill or two. This Azalea is one of the many bred from Northern Lights, and we chose it because it’s easily the most mildew-resistant and among the most fragrant. Now, the Robin Hill Hybrids are good for the north too because they bloom much later than others. Betty Anne Voss is a big favorite because the blooms are large and double, and the habit is semi-weeping. But my personal favorite will always be Hilda Niblett. There’s something about that ground-hugging habit just covered in big peach and white blooms that does it for me.

 

For those with the opposite problem — too much heat, with its attendant evil of mildew — the classic Exbury Gibraltar is the best choice through zone 8. And Betty Anne Voss goes into zone 9 with great vigour. Yaku Princess, a Tony Shammarello hybrid, is simply one of the hardiest Rhododendrons of all, and its densely set, evergreen habit is a year-round pleasure. I would recommend it for north and south alike, including “difficult” climates where other cultivars may not have been successful.

For those looking for a longer season of bloom, aside from the Encores, the David Leach hybrids are to be recommended. Everything about these cultivars is top drawer, from flower size to hardiness to colour — look at the colour of Trinidad! And Capistrano is the clearest, purest yellow in the entire family, I believe. These are rugged shrubs bred by perhaps the best modern Rhododendron plantsman of all. (I mustn’t shun those intrepid Victorian plant-hunters!)

 

 

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Azalea and Rhododendron Pruning


Posted on Sep 8, 2006 |

What’s the most common mistake folks make? Pruning in fall. You might think it would be safe, because these shrubs bloom in late spring, but they set their new buds right about now, and if you lop them off, you’ll get nothing next spring. Most horticulturalists will tell you the cutoff date is July 31; in warm climates you can push it a bit, but absolutely not into September.

That said, sometimes any plant needs an emergency trim. You should never hesitate to prune your azalea or rhododendron — or anything else, come to it — if you see dead or infected wood. Cut well below the damaged part and get the branch out of the garden pronto. If you keep a stack of garden debris for burning, all the better. Just don’t put it on the compost heap, or the disease might spread to your new soil.

Now, many an azalea and rhodie have gone their whole lives without ever being pruned, and this is just fine. They don’t need it to stimulate bud production, and most are pretty nicely shaped just as they are. But sometimes they outgrow their spot and you don’t want to move them. Other times you have to move them, in which case you should do a root prune if you possibly can. More about that in a sec.

Here are some general guidelines for pruning these shrubs:

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