10 OF THE BEST FOR YOUR GARDEN AND WHERE TO GO TO SEE MORE
April and May are prime months to see rhododendrons at their best.
Since it has been such a cool, sunless spring, many rhododendrons have been slow to bloom.
The good news is that the ones that did bloom were able to hold their flowers a little longer because of the cool temperatures that turned the outdoors into the equivalent of a florist’s freezer.
Rhododendrons come in all sizes from compact dwarf varieties to large tree-like specimens.
The overall flowering time is also much longer than most people realize, extending from early spring right through to July, if you are lucky enough to have the right varieties.
If you’re keen to see great rhododendron displays, there are a few key places to go:
VanDusen Botanical Garden, 37th and Oak Street, Vancouver. The garden has a spectacular Rhododendron Walk, but I much prefer the shady woodland areas where you will find large blue R. augustinii in full bloom in May.
The Asian Garden at the University of B.C. Botanical Garden. This is one of the best collections of rhododendrons in Canada with more than 400 species at last count.
Century Garden at Deer Lake in Burnaby. This is actually in my neck of the woods and a place I often visit when we go for a walk. It still has some spectacularly large rhodos as well many beautiful azaleas.
The Ted and Mary Greig Garden in Stanley Park (west of the pitch-and-putt golf course). Surprisingly, this is still a secret unknown to many people, yet it has some of the best rhododendrons anywhere, especially lovely williamsianum hybrids and some rare cultivars developed at the Royston Nursery on Vancouver Island.
Darts Hill Garden Park at the corner of 16th Avenue and 170th Street.This lovely 15-acre garden was built by Francisca Darts and her late husband Ed. It is still one of the best places to see rhodos at their best. For information go to www.surrey.ca
The Glades at 561 172 St., Surrey. This 10-acre woodland started out like Darts Hill as a private garden and was then taken over by the municipality. It is now a beautiful place to see woodland plants including large rhododendrons and azaleas. For information call 604-501-5050 or go to www.surrey.ca
The Rhododendron Species Foundation Botanical Garden in Federal Way, Washington, south of Seattle. Treat yourself to a day trip down to this wonderful botanical oasis where you can see more than 10,000 rhododendrons in a 22-acre woodland setting.
WANT TO BUY SOMETHING SPECIAL
To buy rare or unusual rhodos, make sure you catch the annual Vancouver Rhododendron Society’s plant sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Park and Tilford Garden, 33 Brooksbank Avenue, North Vancouver on May 6.