Rhododendron Favorites: April 2012

I always look forward to April when some of my favorite rhododendrons burst into glorious bloom.This year, though the dazzling display began in March, I was rewarded with the best show ever.

copyright - Lois Sheinfeld 2012

Many of my early blooming, small-leafed lepidote rhododendrons come from the extraordinary breeding program of the Mezitt family of Weston Nurseries in Massachusetts.The program was royally launched with the introduction of  Rhododendron ‘PJM’, named for the founder of Weston, Peter J. Mezitt (ergo,PJM ) and hybridized by his son, Edmund Mezitt. (Believe it or not, this celebrated rhododendron was the result of Edmund’s very first attempt at hybridization).

 

“Spectacular,” Peter Mezitt said on seeing PJM in bloom for the first time in 1945. He was right on the money, then and now.

 

copyright - Lois Sheinfeld 2012

Glowing lavender-pink blossoms blanket the plant in Spring, and in the Fall its lustrous evergreen foliage turns mahogany-black. PJM is very cold-hardy, thrives in both sun and shade, is pest-and-disease-resistant, and the bees love it as much as I do. (If you want all of PJM’s attributes but in a compact size, R. ‘Princess Susan’ would be a perfect choice).

 

 

 

Plant in well draining, humus-rich, acid soil, then stand back and enjoy. (For an Ultra Wow effect, companion plant with forsythia. Trust me. It works).

copyright - Lois Sheinfeld 2012

 

copyright - Lois Sheinfeld 2012

R.’Weston’s Pink Diamond’ is another favorite with luxuriant, ruffled, double silvery-pink flowers and resplendent autumn foliage colored in shades of gold, orange, and red.

 

 

 

 

 

copyright - Lois Sheinfeld 2012

Flowering a bit later, Diamond’s garden sidekick R. ‘Weston’s Aglo’ is elegantly dressed from head to toe in exquisite clusters of small  single pink flowers with red flares, and in the Fall, the evergreen foliage turns a beautiful bronze-green.

copyright - Lois Sheinfeld 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not to be outdone, R. ‘Mrs J. A. Withington 111’ sashays in, fashionably late, flaunting charming powder-puff double lavender flowers. Her evergreen foliage also turns bronzy-green in the Fall.

copyright - Lois Sheinfeld 2012

These Weston rhododendrons  share the same culture requirements as PJM and possess similar cold hardiness and disease and pest resistance.

I treasure them all.