I thought I was only taking six months away from blogging, but it seems to have become spun out into seven…
It has been the usual long, dark, wet winter – but in contrast to last year virtually no snow has fallen, and the temperature has seldom dropped beneath -3 degrees celsius. So, for once, the rhododendron and early azaleo buds have survived. In fact, I’ve seldom seen the early rhoddies cover themselves in blossom to this extent:
This is rh loderi ‘King George’ -a blowsy pink number with a remarkably strong scent (which you only get to experience on the rare windless day). I planted this in entirely the wrong place where it doesn’t get enough shelter from the north, so not only is it growing more like a creeping shrub than a stately tree of 25 feet, which it can manage in more favourable climes, but its buds are normally shrivelled by sleet-laden gales. On the rare occasions it escapes, it does provide something of a wow factor at the entrance to the house.
The flowers turn from their carmine beginnings to a pink-tinged white as they open out – just the kind of colour that interior designers commend for ‘feminine’ bedrooms. The frangrance is also somewhat ‘feminine’, reminding me of expensive bath soap.
This is a bog-standard early purple – so bog-standard that I have forgotten its name (if I ever knew it). It usually survives the frost about one year in three, but when it covers itself like this, the weight of the blossom drags the branches almost to the ground.
Finally, the only respectable tree rhododendron I posess (again, no name, sorry). It has taken the better part of forty years to reach this height, but reliably rewards me with a block of colour before the blue poppies behind it come into bloom.
Even on a dull evening such as tonight, the view from the terrace is really rather exotic!