The Rhododendron Moment

Have you been noticing all the rhododendrons blooming in front yards and back gardens?  We are coming to the end of the prime bloom season so now is the time to acknowledge their bright patches of over the top colour (don’t make me remind you of the unbearable whiteness).

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We saw these specimens yesterday at the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Kentville. For nearly 50 years they have been inviting folks to visit their hillside of rhodos at this time of year.

Beginning in the 1950s a couple of scientists at the station worked to develop hybrids that would be successful and spectacular in our environment.  If you are interested in their story you’ll find it on the Atlantic Rhododendron and Horticultural Society site.

Or you can just marvel at the size of some of the plants (Sheila is in there for scale).


And all that colour.


Last week we visited another pilgrimage site for people interested in the creation legend of Nova Scotian rhodos. Captain Dick Steele for many years was the face of rhodos in the region.  He propagated plants and operated a nursery in Bayport, Lunenburg County (now closed).

A great place to see plants grown by Steele is Pine Grove Park just outside Liverpool.  This beautiful park of old growth pine is a perfect setting for growing rhodos and for years he donated plants .


It is basically a natural landscape with rhodos inserted here and there.  So you will be enjoying native striped maples. . .


or lady slippers . . .


and then come upon a flaming section of azaleas (part of the rhodo family).


The park seems to be well used for recreation and dog walking and would be worth a stop in any season.

Many of the best rhodos are native to higher elevations in China and the foot hills of the Himalayas which is the reason they do well in our moist environment with cool summers.  But we do have native rhodos too. Rhodora is probably finished blooming, without a lot of fanfare, in the ditches along our highways. Always a joy.


 Post Script

  • We should (and can) be growing some vegetables.  If you are looking for some guidance and motivation to get started, then here is your answer. As part of Garden Days, Niki Jabbour will be doing a presentation on Saturday, June 20th, 11:00 am  at the Public Gardens.  If Niki’s enthusiasm doesn’t get you dashing out to plant some oriental greens  among the geraniums, then you are doomed.
  • Remember to give rhodos the sniff test.  Quite a few are fragrant.

About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.