June 2012: Rhododendron ‘Summer Summit’

According to nurserymen and growers in the U.S., the current trend in garden design seems to be two-fold:  a focus on easy-care shrubs along with a preference for small  —  even dwarf  — plants.

For more than thirty years I’ve always favored shrubs (and trees) over the very popular high-maintenance perennials.  But for me, bigger is better.  And no plant proves that point quite so well as the majestic Rhododendron ‘Summer Summit’.  Just give it a bit of room, and stand back.

In my shady organic garden, the Summit is healthy, vigorous, and wonderfully over-sized in every way.  For starters, the shrub dominates the landscape and is a sight to behold with its towering 16 foot tall and 10 foot wide tree-like stems.  And when it blooms in June, it’s nothing short of glorious:  a shower of beautiful, huge, snowy white blossoms set off by expansive rings of long, elegant, dark green leaves.  (Indoors, one truss will amply fill a large container, and the flowers last a long time).

While tropical in look and habit, this late-blooming David Leach hybrid is hardy to -20 degrees F., and to my mind it’s one of Leach’s finest introductions.

Doesn’t every garden need at least one fabulous, flowering, trouble-free giant?

copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld


copyright 2012 – Lois Sheinfeld