Rhodos, rhodos everywhere

Sooke Garden Club to talk about perennial favourite

Rhodos are the subject at the next Sooke Garden Club meeting.

Rhodos are the subject at the next Sooke Garden Club meeting.

It’s early spring and that means eye-popping colours around every corner – tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, camellias, flowering plums and cherries, and, of course, rhododendrons. How lucky we are to live in a climate that allows us to feast on this visual banquet at the end of a gray, rainy winter.

For all intents and purposes, we are just getting into rhodo season. Some varieties are already in spectacular bloom, with many, many more to come over the weeks ahead. What is so great about these shrubs, in addition to the gamut of colour their flowers offer, is that they generally look great year round. Moreover, they tend not to be on the deer buffet.

Rhododendrons are much more variable than is generally realized. They range in size from tiny, only a few centimeters tall, to giants, more than 30 meters in height. Leaf and flower shapes also vary widely, and some species are highly perfumed. In certain areas, rhododendrons grow abundantly in the wild. So with thousands of cultivars available, the big challenge is deciding which ones to choose for a particular landscape or container.

It’s spring, it’s planting time, and rhodos (some already in bloom) are available for purchase at nurseries and garden centres everywhere. It’s the perfect time for Bill McMillan’s “Rhodos 101,” a presentation addressing the basics of rhododendron culture, care and problems. He will talk about the various kinds of rhodos, when, where, and how to plant them, and how to determine why a plant is not performing well and what to do about it.

Bill McMillan, describes himself as a rhodo enthusiast rather than an expert. However, he has been curator of the Rhododendron and Hosta Garden of the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific since 2000 and has visited China twice to study species rhododendrons. He also propagates and grows rhododendrons from both seeds and cuttings.

Please join us Wednesday, April 23, 7:30 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on Townsend Road. New members welcome. Annual fee: $15.

For more information, email:   sookegardenclub@yahoo.ca or phone Rose at 250-642-5509. The evening will also feature a parlour show, and contest potatoes will be available.

Annual Public Plant Sale:

The Sooke Garden Club will be having a huge plant sale at Evergreen Mall on Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Plants of every description will be available, and a landscape architect/arborist and several master gardeners will be on site to answer your gardening questions. Don’t miss this event. Come early and meet the friendly faces of Sooke Garden Club members. Memberships will be available.

Contributed by Loretta Fritz

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