Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Thursday, June 5, 2014

In which a Rhododendron addict gets an overdose, Part III: Well I'm stumped!

Continuing my (mostly foliar) saga of the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden. More gorgeous foliage, late blooms, and the Victorian Stumpery.

A rather interesting tree for texture, Sorbus koehneana has leaves in loose pillars along the branches.

This rhododendron is growing in one of the newly-cleared and planted areas of the garden. Unfortunately I couldn't get close enough to read the label. Update: Rhododendron keysii, thanks to Conrad McCormick for the ID.

Its bright, tubular flowers look more like a vireya than a hardy rhododendron.

Sadly, the cordate-based blue leaves belong to another rhody for which I could not find a tag. I could guess that it might be R. thomsonii, but I'd probably be wrong. Another picture to send into the RSF for ID.

The dark, narrow leaves in the upper left of the above picture belong to this species, R. venator

The RSBG has several exquisite specimens of Davidia involucrata, also known as the dove tree or handkerchief tree. This is one of my absolute favorite flowering trees, and I first saw it here. Since I've decided to focus more on planting trees and shrubs at my parents' house,  I really must include one of these!

Styrax obassia was also in full bloom, so thick that the fragrant flowers nearly obscured the leaves in places.

The pink-striped flowers of R. insigne offer some color later in the season than most species. The leaves, while not as spectacular as some, do possess some textural venation and have that much-desired indumentum below.

I'm really loving all the blue broad-leaved plants in the garden. This is a new species to me, Berberis temolaica. The stunningly blue leaves were made even more so by the contrasting dark, mahogany stems and the bright foliage of the ferns underneath. According to Plantlust, this barberry is available from Forestfarm and Gossler Farms, though a search of their respective websites shows that only Forestfarm is currently offering this luscious blue barberry.

Don't be fooled by the carpet of green. The sign is a warning to visitors that this is a pond covered in a tiny fern called Azolla, and should not be walked on (unless you really want to go for a swim and emerge with a coating of aquatic ferns).

I could have sworn that I took a picture of the label for this rhody. Regardless, the lacquered appearance of the mature leaves and the dusty coating of tomentum on the new growth make it worthy of inclusion. The leaves had the constantly-wet look of polished stone.

Like many species in subsection Barbatum, R. exasperatum has wonderful peeling, reddish bark.

The foliage is equally attractive, with convex leaves and deeply-impressed veins in a herringbone pattern.

The type species for subsection Barbata, R. barbatum is no slouch, either, with red bark exfoliating to reveal grey inner bark.

Another member of subsection Barbata, R. erosum has such short petioles that the leaves appear to spring directly from the stem. 

The midveins are lined with long red-tipped hairs.

Now we've reached the Victorian Stumpery, a relatively new area of the garden installed in 2009 by the Hardy Fern Foundation. How lucky are we in the Pacific Northwest, to have both the Rhododendron Species Foundation and the Hardy Fern Foundation based here? I may be a tad biased, as these are two of my favorite groups of plants.

The stumpery is comprised of over 140 tree stumps and logs, which (correct me if I'm wrong) were at least partially supplied by the RSBG after a severe storm brought down many trees in the garden. It is the largest public stumpery in the world.

A stumpery is a garden composed of uprooted stumps, logs, and rootballs of trees arranged to provide a diverse planting area in which many different plants can be grown.

The bizarre yet graceful new fronds of Woodwardia unigemmata can grow to over 4 feet long. My two little ones have quite a ways to grow before they reach such proportions.

The centerpiece of the stumpery is crowned, naturally, with a rhododendron, but the real jewel of this planting to me is the Corylopsis spicata 'Aurea' at the base of the rhody.

The bright chartreuse leaves simply glow in the shade.

Speaking of glowing, the coral-red flowers of R. griersonianum were downright dazzling!

As were the richly textured leaves of R. mallotum. I love the dark older leaves. As a bonus, the underside is coated with an intensely orange indumentum.

The greenish-yellow flowers of R. lepidostylum were intricately patterned with relatively large darker spots.

And the small, hairy leaves were delightfully blue, especially when paired with this yellow-green fern.
 The stumpery was fascinating, full of nooks and crannies to explore. This garden will definitely be a destination within the RSBG for fern enthusiasts and plant-lovers in general, especially as it matures. But we still had so much more to see, so we had to move on. Not a particularly hard thing to do, as the Meconopsis Meadow was just down the trail.

Cardiocrinum giganteum stalks were quickly skyrocketing up from the ground. This one was larger than my fist. According to the RSBG Facebook page, they are now in bloom!

The Meconopsis (blue poppies) were starting to fade, but there were still many beautiful flowers to photograph. I had promised myself that I would buy some of these in the sales area. Alas, I was so preoccupied selecting Rhododendrons that I didn't remember to grab a couple poppies! It's for the best though. The bed I would put them in is due for some big changes. Better to postpone the poppy purchase until after. 
 In the next segment of my Rhododenndron Species Botanical Garden series: Bigleaf sightings in the land of the giants! You know you've been waiting for this!

16 comments:

  1. Thanks for this great tour Evan! The RSBG is very close to where I live. Your post has me kicking myself for not visiting more frequently! Is your teaser at the end perhaps about those Schefflera macrophylla in the conservatory? Love them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well kick yourself right on over to the garden! Actually I started with the conservatory and was suitably impressed by the Schefflera macrophylla. Thanks for the name, btw, I wasn't sure about the species.

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing with us your tour of this fabulous place Evan. A place that we would definitely want to visit in the flesh one day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you get the chance. It really is a treasure.

      Delete
  3. Can you believe I've never been? Gotta fix that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's so much more to see here than floofy flowers. These are not your garden variety rhodies!

      Delete
  4. Such a great garden. I've been a couple of times now, and I just adore the stumpery. I planted a Corylopsis spicata 'Aurea' in my garden last year, and I love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that Corylopsis. Somewhere near one of the dove trees is another Corylopsis, I think C. glabrescens, that smells wonderful when it blooms in early spring. I was there one year when it was in bloom and it spun me right around before I even saw it!

      Delete
  5. I'm always on the lookout for companion plants for the Rhodies. Several good candidates here, but especially the Corylopsis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Corylopsis is a fantastic and under-appreciated genus. As long as they aren't planted in full sun, they have some attractive feature in every season. I warn against planting them in full sun because the foliage gets burnt spots and edges by the end of summer and then the fall foliage is marred as well.

      Delete
  6. Well hot diggity dang, guess which plant is going on my wish list.

    Just guess.

    Okay I'll tell you:

    Woodwardia unigemmata. I can't remember how many tree ferns I've let die in winter. I'd like to give something hardy a try. Very nice post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol. I don't think I would have guessed the Woodwardia, but that's a good choice! It's one of the biggest hardy ferns available, and once it gets big enough it makes babies at the ends of the fronds!

      Delete
  7. Every time I view one of your posts, I think I need to move to the PNW. Now, if I could only convince my husband...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like I'm rubbing it in every time I post something. If it helps there are plenty of plants you can grow that I can't.

      Delete
  8. Another mouth watering selection!
    I think your mystery Rhododendron in pics two and three may be keysii.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the id! I believe you're right. Makes sense that it's in subsection Cinnabarina.

      Delete

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment! I love hearing what readers think and answering questions. I also welcome suggestions for improvement!