May 25, 2012

Spring Staples

Each of our locales has a favorite, or many, harbinger(s) visually trumpeting the arrival of spring. In the Northwest of WA, one of my favorites is the Rhododendron. Their varieties cover a broad span of colors and sizes. Fortunately they remain popular among growers, gardeners, parks and on. Some of my favorite rhodys have been seen at old homestead sites, huge and drenched in color. Many of those growing on our property, decades ago, were whacked back in a CA raised, pruning frenzy. I learned the hard way that CA gardening practices didn't translate cross-region. 

And yet, rhodys are quite forgiving. There were two growing right behind our house for many years that became so big, without annual pruning they would overlap a portion of the roof. As those rhodys and I aged together, their annual haircuts became more of a project than I could accomplish. Two years ago I cut them down to the ground, knowing without anything more than roots they would be goners. 

Another lesson learned. If determined enough a rhody can, and in this case did, raise itself from the dead. Or mostly dead. (Hat tip to "The Princess Bride) As I type, there are four flowers forming on that bush which now stands about two feet tall. Mostly leafless and misshapen, none-the-less it has mustered up it's strength, with no assistance from me, and is determined to bloom. Moxie, that. "Most" of the rhodys I so severely pruned all those decades ago, returned as well. However they were pruned to return, CA methodology notwithstanding, by leaving leaf clusters, etc. 

It gives me a glad heart to see the power of plant life. Today I have taken the day off and am going for a walk through Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood, WA to surround the camera and I with rhodys for a time. They are one of my favorite spring staples. Hope you find a moment or two in the day for a bit of color as well.

(The images above were taken of rhodys growing beside an older home in Gig Harbor, WA.) 


tiedyejudy said...

Beautiful! I tried to grow one here a few years back, but the harsh temps and high winds did it in. Thanks for sharing your beautiful blooms!

Sea Mist and Sunsets said...

Hi Judy,
Yes, when in CA we tried to grow them without success. I understand some heat and drought tolerant versions are now available, but I can imagine them in your area or where I was in CA. They do love the rain and humidity.

I've been thinking about you and all the fire/smoke in the four state region this past week. Hope all is well?

tiedyejudy said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Chris! Fortunately, the fires are south of us, and we are in no danger from them at this time. But fire season is just starting, and we do live in the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the world... fingers crossed!

Sea Mist and Sunsets said...

Thanks for letting me know. So glad they haven't happened around you. My fingers seem perpetually crossed these last few years, as I know yours are as well. I didn't know the largest Ponderosa Pine forest was down there in AZ. Ponderosas seem to create an atmosphere all their own. I feel another "must see" coming on.

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