I've never really felt anything toward Rhododendrons before, but this year has been different. Working on a nursery I'm subjected to the 'usual' hybrids ('Christmas Cheer', 'Albert Schweitzer' etc.) which are OK I guess, but many decades of breeding has bred out the subtlety and charm of a very variable genus. The drive to generate monsters with brash heads of colourful flowers has taken away the joys of flower shape, the arrangement of flowers in the truss (flower head), subtle nuance of colour. What today's gardener buys is little more than a bushy spring bedding plant; showy flowers for a few weeks then you're left with a depressing dome of leaves for the rest of the year.
|Subtlety and charm; Rhododendron 'Emasculum'|
|Half hardy Rhododendron 'Lady Alice Fitzwilliam' is beautifully scented|
|Huge truss of Rhododendron macabeanum at the RHS Rosemoor Spring Show|
|Spidery or star-like foliage of Rhododendron 'Hampshire Belle'|
|Peeling bark of Rhododendron 'Shilsonii'|
|Bell-shaped flowers of Rhododendron quinquefolium|