“If we really want to learn how to forgive, perhaps we had better start with something easier than the Gestapo.” C.S. Lewis.
If you are a new gardener, perhaps you shouldn’t start by lusting after rare, exotic, needy — often strange looking — plants that will faint onto the swooning couch if you look at them the wrong way. Rather, first build your confidence — and your garden — with easy-care, robust, resplendent plants that will work for you, not the other way around.
With the chaos and uncertainty of climate change, even seasoned gardeners have a new appreciation for plants you can safely count on. In the next few posts I will focus on a number of these special, time-tested beauties that have flourished for decades in my organic garden, starting with two of my favorite Elepidote Rhododendrons:
Rhododendron ‘Calsap’ (Z 4-7)
It isn’t easy to choose two favorite Rhododendrons — I have so many. Calsap was chosen because — apart from its unfortunate name — it has it all: winter hardiness, vigor, handsome stately form, healthy evergreen foliage, and masses of gorgeous flowers in May. Bees are also fans. Photos below.
Rhododendron makinoi (Z 5-7)
This garden jewel is all about foliage. R. makinoi has healthy, elegant, evergreen, long and narrow leaves, which circle the stems like ribs of an umbrella. And its new growth is covered with showy white tomentum — yes, you can have razzle-dazzle with hardy, easy-care plants. The shrub blooms in May and has an attractive, dense, mounded form. Photos below.
All you need to know about Rhododendron care is covered by the late Hank Schannen, accomplished Rhododendron breeder and founder of Rare Find Nursery, in his Criteria For Success With Rhododendrons: