Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What the Heck? Rhodo's in October! Rhododendron impeditum

In a departure from the recurrent theme of essential autumn flowers, today features a plant that shouldn't normally bloom in fall (and for me, it rarely blooms at all). Well, at least the wet cool June and cooler than usual summer has benefitted something...

Rhododendron impeditum is a wee gem of a subshrub from the mountains of western China near Tibet (apologies to those who find that a statement rife with politics, but my mind is kind of stuck with geography as taught in the 60's), on alpine meadows and open slopes at 9-16 thousand feet elevation. In the wild it can apparently reach a height of 3 feet, but in cultivation is more like 1 foot, which makes me feel a lot better about this plant of mine. It has been in this bed for 16 years now, and is still pretty miniscule; still, better than the others of the same batch which I sited in a few different locations-- they've all expired long since.

If one looks closely on the first photo, one can make out a few buds which never opened; winter kill of most of the buds is a problem here most years, but this year apparently there was some early bud set, and autumn conditions were right for a few to open out of season.

But, flowers or none, it has a nice foliage.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Leo,

I am reminded of the phrase "A face that only a mother could love". A Rhodo which grows one foot high in 16 years, and gives you a couple of unseasonal flowers, after all that time. Special? Yes. Worth the effort? Probably not!
Treasure those few flowers - sounds like you cannot rely upon it to flower again next year.



Denis Wilson said...

How long before it becomes a decent sized bush, let alone a tree?
I know it is only a small growing species, but that is ridiculous, is it not? 16 years? You have the patience of a saint.