Friday, March 19, 2021

Finding Rhododendron forrestii, and how I learned we definitely aren't growing any rhododendrons

Back when I visited the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden (post here), I was especially enamored with Rhododendron forrestii

The way it hugged the ground and spread out seemed quite fantastic.

As luck would have it I happened to know Roger Gossler (of Gossler Farms) was making a trip up to Portland last week and so I emailed him to see if he might have one of these kicking around. 

And he did! And now it's mine!

This one is Rhododendron forrestii ssp. forrestii Tumescens, and while I'm not growing it for the flowers it's still exciting to see buds. Pictures seem to say they're more red than pink so that's a win in my book.

I do love the foliage...

And I'm thrilled to find such a low, creeping evergreen.

Naturally I shared my joy with Andrew who expressed concern that this meant we—once again—were growing rhododendrons. Hadn't we rid ourselves of that oh so common plant, the one so emblematic of the coastal half of the Pacific Northwest? You'll find no rhododendrons in this garden!

Oh but there are! Honey we have eight rhododendrons in the garden. Three R. sinogrande...

A Rhododendron 'Wine and Roses' (which you may have seen above ^) that isn't looking great at the moment. I don't think it enjoyed our brief winter interlude after a very mild winter.

Here's what it looked like when it was planted out last spring...

Speaking of not looking good, aye yi yi! My poor Rhododendron pachysanthum has been through hell. Too shaded and then snacked on by what I assume are root weevils. 

I do hope to resuscitate it this spring, in fact I've already given it a hard prune and opened up the plants around it to allow more light in. Here's a palate cleansing image of the powdery undersides of pachysanthum's leaves...

Next up...I still sometimes forget this plant is a rhododendron, as I came to know it as an azalea. Rhododendron stenopetalum 'Linearifolium'...

The blooms echo the foliage shape...

Rhododdendron 'Ebony Pearl' is another that came to my garden via Roger, I love that dark foliage...

And the final rhododendron in our "no rhododendron garden" (now with nine rhododendrons) is this one, R. laramie...

I really don't mean to make fun. I just thought it was funny that he was so adamant that we DID NOT have any rhododendrons in the garden, when in fact there are several!

—   —   —

Weather Diary, March 18: Hi 56, Low 41/ Precip .16 

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


  1. I just wish I had seen Andrew's face when he found out he is living among so many Rhodies. Did you take him by the hand and led him through the garden, making introductions?

    1. No, I didn't figure he was up for that level of awareness.

  2. Poor R. catawbiense, SO maligned, ha! They keep company with Forsythia and PGM Azaleas.
    The other species you do have in your 'non-Rhodo' garden are splendid. I'm sure they will bounce back from their winter setback.

  3. It's interesting to see how plants creep into a garden, seemingly on their own...

  4. Beautiful foliage, all of them. They are not the typical non-gardener homeowner Rhodies, though?

    I never thought I'd have a palm or an Agapanthus in the garden--but there they are. Not the usual ones though.

    1. No, not the big old boring (lacewing infested) house-eating rhodies that seem to come standard issue with every Portland home. Agapanthus is a great example! There are some really fabulous ones.

  5. Hi Loree! Love your R. stenopetalum 'Linearifolium'!
    As for the weevils, I managed to get rid of them several years ago when they attacked my Rhododendron Rex. It might not sound scientific, but I dumped tons of coffee grounds under the shrub (got it from Starbucks). Several years later, they are back and I need to repeat that experiment :)

  6. I have two that I've had for many years, but I think the two new ones I planted last spring may have died over the winter. I love your variety but especially the new one. What's not to like? I like the foliage on them more than the flowers but am too cold for my favorites.

    1. Oh I hope those two will surprise you and bounce back!

  7. You have some really interesting rhodos especially the stenopetalum. Funny how familiarity breeds contempt. Growing up on the West Coast they were all too common. Now on the Prairie's would love to be able to grow one. Hmm.

  8. Richard is a fan of Rhodies so...oh, well. I have declared an aversion to several genuses, only to find them hopping into my cart. Racism is just as bad when it comes to plants as it is re. humans, no?

  9. it must be a coastal thing (as I am on the east coast of Canada). I gave a whole bunch of them away (in trade for soil to fill the holes they left) and I still have... at least 10. Plus some azaleas. At least they're not all the same size/colour, I have a few nice mini ones, and shades vary from the whitest pink to fully purple. But yes, very much "Landscaper on a budget" rhodies. that linearifolium one though *chefs kiss*


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!