Friday, February 26, 2021

Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, before it all unraveled

Going through and editing/uploading these photos was more of an emotional experience than I anticipated. This visit to the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden was a stop on our way up to the 2020 Northwest Flower & Garden Festival in Seattle, on February 26th, one year ago. COVID-19 was in the news, and in fact the first US case had been discovered in the Seattle area, where we were headed. I'm smart enough to have been concerned, but I had no idea what lay ahead for us all.  

The version of me that walked this garden that day was blissfully clueless as to just how much her life would change in the coming months. Honestly I tear up a bit just typing those words. I was headed to see friends, hug them, dine with them, go places with little concern about a very contagious and fatal disease. Imagine. 

Anyway... to the garden! Near the entrance...

I have come close to adding Ypsilandra thibetica to my garden. This appears to be one of those plants that is very very good when it's good. And very blah when it's not. Do you have any experience with it?

Just inside the gate there's a sales area for featured plants, and beyond that a larger area with many more plant tables. The light on these plants made them seem extra special.

I took this photo for the moss—but of course the dark leaves draw my attention and maybe yours, they're labeled as Shortia galacifolia.

Those large leaves!

It's tempting to throw out Rhododendron sinogrande as the name, but only because that's the large leaf rhododendron I'm most familiar with.

Schefflera delavayi

I know I photographed this the last time I was here, and I am confident I will photograph it next time, and the time after that.

Side view.

Wow! Podophyllum pleianthum, so early!

Rhododendron macabeanum

Matteuccia struthiopteris, the ostrich fern. All that's left standing are the dried fertile fronds. 

I love them so much!

Blechnum chilense, now known as Parablechnum cordatum.

A close up...

Unknown ID but look... it's a mahonia tree!

Helleborus argutifolius

The green pond...

Rhododendron lanigerum

The crevice garden, looking a bit empty.

Okay, a lot empty actually.

Their Daphne x houtteana looks a little sparse. Actually it was nice to see their plant looking even worse than mine, I guess maybe I'm not doing anything wrong and that's just what it does in February?

Just a couple more photos from inside their greenhouse and then I'll wrap up this post—however a look at the stumpery is ahead next week!

I love this moss-filled column and basket, so many ways to grow cool plants (it does need more plants though).

An orchid on a stick! I have no idea which one. I would have certainly added to my collection from Andy's Orchids (up to four now, 2 from 2019 and 2 from 2020) had the 2021 NWFG Fest have happened. I guess that means I need to double my purchasing in 2022 (fingers crossed the show returns).

I photographed this very orange rhododendron the last time I visited. I didn't know what it was then and I certainly don't now.

Strobilanthes gossypinus, mine is leggy too.

Finally a green wonderland I stopped to admire on my way back to the car. Will I be able to make this stop again in February of 2022 on my way to the NWFG Festival? God I hope so...

As I was working on this post, and missing my friends in the plant community (missing the NWFG Festival), in came an email from Carol Michel, blogger and hostess of Garden Bloggers Bloomday. She and Dee Nash have a gardening podcast, The Gardenangelists, and she was writing to let me know they'd received a review copy of my book Fearless Gardening and talked about it on their latest episode; Wipe the February Off Your Face: Microclimates and Rhubarb. What a lovely thing to have show up in your inbox. It was like a hug from friends I haven't seen forever. Give their podcast a listen, it's a lot of fun!

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Weather Diary, Feb 25: Hi 51, Low39/ Precip .09 

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. I love big-leaved Rhodies, they are so majestic.

    I am not that fussed about their flowers, but their leaves and the form of their branches make me go weak at the knees, ha ha!

    I grow Ypsilandra thibetica in my front garden. It's been there for 7 or 8 years and it came through this cold, snowy winter with aplomb - it was untouched by the snow and frost. Mine is in shady, moist heavy soil. A real gem of a plant!

    I completely understand your retrospective thoughts about the pandemic. I was in a similar place as well.

    1. Good to know about your ypsilandra, perhaps I need to take the plunge.

  2. RSBG was on my "must visit" list for last year and I didn't make it due to the you-know-what. Really, really hope I can make it this year. I love all the mossy wood photos, and that! I hope someone chimes in with the name of that orange-leaved Rhody- amazing! Can't wait for your post on the stumpery next week, that's one of the main reasons I want to visit-- to get inspiration for mine that's still in the planning stage. Thanks for brightening my day :-)

    1. So glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you are able to visit this year.

  3. It is odd to look back on early 2020 and remember how we felt about things then compared to how we feel now. The pandemic has insidiously changed how we look at everything, even the future. Nonetheless, I truly hope I'm going to make it up that way for the 2022 NWFG Festival!

    1. As I was typing 2022 NWFG Fest I was feeling kind of squeamish about the idea of being in an enclosed space with that many people. It used to seem so normal...

  4. Looks like a place I would love. I am lucky to have a client whose late spouse collected many Rhododendron species (Azaleas and Acers, too) on trips to Asia and looking through your pics gets me thinking how I can work that garden for the better. There is a shortia/moss/fern garden that is amazing. I spent most of last year just pruning things back into shape. Tragically, a fall storm blew through in Oct. and I spent a month doing clean-up, so sad how much was damaged. I felt like I was in a war zone. Coincidentally, I was just there this afternoon, tagging broken trees for removal. Looking forward to working there again come spring. I really need to do a post about this little gem!

    1. Yes please do!!! I don't often comment on your blog (I'm sorry) but you are in my "blog reader" so I read them all, I would love to see photos of the garden.

  5. I've been wanting to go there for years and keep putting it off. Maybe I will make it this year.

    1. Do it! Let me know if you want the names of some nurseries in the area you can check out too!

  6. I really miss this year's show. Surrounded by green/gardens/blooms in February is a real pick-me-up when there are still a couple of months of winter weather left. Might be fun next year for us all to meet at the show. I have come to consider many of the people on the blog as 'friends' since have so little contact with anyone else these days.

    1. Definitely! If the show happens next year we need to plan a meet-up!

  7. Oh, the Pre Pandemic memories of the NWFG show... elbow to elbow crowds: miraculously we didn't get sick! The RSBG had a fall plant sale in 2020: I drag my partner for a much needed stroll in the meandering trails. As always, around the green pond I expect a dinosaur to pop out of the water, Loch Ness style. The greenhouse wasn't open, so a return trip will be required.
    The emerging orange foliage of the Rhododendron is so bright!
    Shortia galacifolia's dark foliage snaking amid the moss creates an attractive combo.
    Here is to doubling our purchases in 2022 show!


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