Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden—a June visit

On my way back to Portland from the Vancouver BC 2023 Study Weekend event I made a stop at the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way, WA. I tend to visit the garden in February (on my way to the NW Flower and Garden Fest) and in the fall when I visit Seattle friends. Summer visits are rare...

I have absolutely no idea what this green flowered beauty is, it's located on the pathway to the garden entrance.

A flower close-up.
Inside the garden now, Rhododendron yuefengense (I think?)

Rhododendron 'Ever Red'

Aka Rhododendron 'Ever Lusting After' (cause I can't seem to get my hands one, or at least one that lives long enough to be planted in the garden)

Adiantum aleuticum var. subpumilim

A late June visit isn't prime rhododendron bloom time, but since I love this genus for the foliage, not the flowers, it was a great time for me to wander the garden. Rhododendron proteoides...

Rhododendron alutaceum var alutaceum

There were many handsome specimens that I didn't get the name of, that won't stop me from sharing their photos...

Maybe Rhododendron thayerianum?

Love this cement or hypertufa container.

I have no idea what this adorable little guy is. *update: Salix × boydii, thanks Dana*

I'm pretty sure the plant in the 12:00 position is a cassiope.

Check out that foliage! Who needs flowers? Who wants flowers? Not I...
This cutie is likely Rhododendron pachysanthum.

Colorful tomentum and foliage pleats, I *swoon*...

Visiting an old friend, Dryopteris polylepis...

And meeting a new friend...

Dryopteris decipiens (I have no idea what the green fronds are)

Maybe Rhododendron macabeanum?

Rhododendron cardiobasis

On the ground plane is Blechnum chilense aka Parablechnum cordatum, the Chilean hard fern.

An entire sea of it! (I love it so)

Rhododendron fortunei ssp. fortunei

Maybe Rhododendron 'Golfer'?

I couldn't manage to pare down my photos to a quantity fit for just one post, so we'll be back at the RSBG on Friday!

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  1. AnonymousMay 08, 2024

    I stop by the RSBG at least every couple of months and there's always something I can be amazed by or drool over. Summer is a prim time to visit because booms are gone and new leafs are emerging, thus making the Rhodies looking their best. Case in point: "Colorful tomentum and foliage pleats"!

    1. I wonder how often I would visit if I lived nearby, it would be so tempting to stop by often.

  2. I've learned from you to appreciate Rhododendrons as much for their foliage as their flowers, not that I can grow any of those featured in this post. However, the one with green flowers did make me sigh with envy.

    1. I continue to be frustrated that when looking up any rhododendron name you can be assured that all you're going to see are photos of flowers.

  3. Great pictures, thank you. Not absolutely certain but: yes on Rh. thayerianum; the Salix in the trough = Salix X boydii; copper tomentum = Rh. pacysanthum; not Rh. macabeanum no other idea; Blechnum chilense = I removed from our garden after John Anderson, Keeper of the Gardens at Great Windsor told me they were removing it due to uncontrollability.

    1. Thanks for the name assists. My Blechnum chilense grows in a large stock tank, the two I've planted in the ground have been knocked to the ground from bad winters, so I'm not too worried.

  4. AnonymousMay 09, 2024

    Love, love, love this place. I agree with commenter Chavli there’s always something new to discover with every visit. Really nice photos highlighting diversity of Rhody foliage.
    Also would love that cassiope for a spot in the rock garden. Very difficult to find.

    1. I bought a couple cassiope from a nursery called Shady Companions at Portland's Hortlandia, sadly they don't seem to have a website.

  5. The foliage is really breathtaking, and tomentum is truly the icing on the cake.

  6. An amazing collection of Rhodies plus other plants.

    Your photos were taken at the right time of year to show the really beautiful side of them - their new growth, not flowers!

    Interestingly enough I was up at Glendoick gardens earlier in the week and they have a pretty amazing collection of Rhododendrons up there as well.

    I am not that good with names, but you are correct about the one with the almost round leaves being a yuefengense.

    They had a lovely old proteoides that must have been about 4/5 feet wide and 2 feet high. The leaves on lower half of the trunks were gone and were covered in moss. You were the first person I thought of when I saw it, lol!

    1. Oh that proteoides and moss sounds heavenly!

  7. This time of year is the best for rhododendron foliage. I would love to be able to grow them. One of the very few rhododendrons I've gotten to survive is an R. pachysanthum. The flowers are hideous though, drooping like dirty, faded pink tissue paper thrown carelessly on top of the new leaves. Yuck. They get picked off immediately. R. proteioides and the great pleated one are faves.

    1. Ha! Your words perfectly describe how I feel about most rhododendron flowers. Thankfully my R. pachysanthum has never bloomed.


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