Photo courtesy Flickr
The summer’s record drought wrought welcome changes in the garden.
When I decided to steer the landscape toward native plants, I realized that the culture recommended for rhododendrons-fertilize, water, remove dead blossoms, prune for compact form-is just the opposite of what produces the leggy violet beauty of rhodies’ spring roadside apparitions. The brief flowers hover in the shade of vine maple and madrone, and usually I see them sparkling in or after a rain.
I like to mark the passing of the year by the blooming times of various plants. Next spring, I will be able to enjoy the leggy future of a drought-hammered domestic rhododendron as it regains its natural shape in the light shade of an elderberry. The evolution of this particular plant is especially entertaining because it is a dead ringer for the fake rhododendrons that used to screen one part of Frederick and Nelson’s tea room from another.