Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Monday, July 6, 2015

Rhododendron faithiae progression

Last week, after returning from eastern Washington, I had little energy for anything but making periodic forays outside to move a soaker hose here and a sprinkler there. This heat is sapping me of the will to do much of anything. Even sitting in air-conditioned comfort, I can't help but think of how hot it is outside, how I finish one round of watering only to begin again where I started, and how certain plants (like the heaths and heathers I transplanted this spring) look like they won't make it through summer. I find it all rather depressing. However, the prospect of autumn gives me hope and, since it's already July, the fall planting season will be here before I know it. In the meantime, I am sporadically planning for fall and reminiscing about the wonderful spring we had, though it was short-lived.

One of the plants I photographed frequently, if not regularly, this spring, was Rhododendron faithiae. Last year I was smitten with the new growth, and even got an encore when it decided to put on another round of new growth. An encore may or may not happen this year, but I did form a collection of images following the progression of the new growth this year. It's not the smooth, regular progression I meant to show, but it'll do.

The first photo was taken around April 13th and the last one around June 3rd.


I did some hand-modeling in some of these shots for scale.



Eruption! The leaves finally burst from the bud scales.




At its best and deepest color.

The expanding leaves start lightening towards copper-pink.








 I was hoping at this point that the midveins would brighten a bit like they did last year, but I think the early warmth reduced the colors that would have otherwise shown and shortened the lifespan of those that did.

The new growth has since matured to green. I have several little plants with big leaves like this one that make me laugh. Like a puppy that's all feet and ears, these plants are all big floppy leaves. One burst of growth doubles the size of the entire plant. My three Magnolia 'Silk Road' x insignis are finally tall enough that not all of their big leaves brush the ground. Rhododendron rex was the last rhododendron to push new growth. I'm trying to make a collection of shots for it like I did with R. faithiae, but I've been rather lax. We'll see how it turns out.

One benefit of this heat was that it's been much quieter this past week than it normally is. Usually, fireworks and bottle rockets start a few days before the 4th. This year, silence held until darkness fell on the night of the 4th, and even then it was rather tame compared to past years (what I could hear of it through the windows that stayed closed because it was too hot to open them and switch off the A/C). Maybe I'm being an unpatriotic curmudgeon, but I enjoyed the quiet.

11 comments:

  1. Wonderful copper tone, good series of shots.
    I'm puzzled as to the the protective wire cage, appearing and disappearing in the pictures. I assume it's gone for good now.

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    1. Oh, haha, yes, the cage is gone for good now. These shots were all taken before the fence was finished, and I didn't always take the cage off to take the photos.

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  2. If you're an unpatriotic curmudgeon then so am I, x 10.

    Love the dark new growth, and had to laugh when I was startled by the sight of you wearing long sleeves in one of the hand model shots.

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    1. Haha! Oh good, I'm not alone. Yes, long sleeves, back when it was still cool enough to wear them!

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  3. I am in the same state as you, except we have no ac in the house to retreat to. I'm sick of summer already, I just want some coolth and some rain. I did so much reworking of beds, planted so many new plants, and now of course I'm just fatalistically assuming they won't survive. Sigh.

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    1. Ouch, I'm sorry you don't have A/C. I know I've lost some of the plants I moved. Luckily the ones I planted from containers all seem to be hanging in there for now. We've both got our work cut out for us keeping up with watering.

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  4. New growth on the Rhodys is always exciting, that one especially. Sinogrande stopped people in their tracks with the huge silvery new growth last year. This year it has been struggling to merely survive...kinda like you.

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    1. Sinogrande and I are both more at home in cool, misty mountains (I'd also take cool, misty coast).

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  5. The new growth makes me think of a volcanic eruption - very splashy. I'm sorry to hear your heat continues unabated. Our weather down here turned surprisingly cool (low 70s in the daytime) beginning on July 4th. Our 4th - and the warm sticky week leading up to it - was not at all low-key.

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    1. There have been some sticky days here, too, but in the high 80s. I'm actually excited for the potential 80 degrees predicted for the end of the week. Even mid 80s would be better than the mid to high 90s we've been having.

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  6. What a dramatic eruption of new growth! Great plant!

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