Thursday, 24 April 2014

Rhododendron walk at Van Dusen botanical garden

As I mentioned to some visitors I met, I like to see how the other half lives, it gives me perspective! My leisurely stroll on Van Dusen's Rhododendron walk was both pleasant and informing.

As I arrived at "the rhododendron walk",  I noticed the air held a touch of warmth, and offered sweet fragrance and the buzzing of a hummingbird on the wing. This garden feature is viewed via a paved linear path, which from near the garden's entrance proceeds gently uphill toward the west. Deciduous trees such as stewartia, maple and magnolia provide overstory, and along one side a secondary wood chip path meanders.  Now was merely the beginning of its bloom cycle. Deciduous American azaleas weren't even in bud yet, and only a couple of the earliest rhododendrons were already bowing out.

Rhododendron 'Blue Bird'

This compact and floriferous selection grows wider than tall (and not more than 60cm at that), with the lovely Rh. augustinii as one of its parents. Some call this electric blue, an almost neon tint, which I think is apt. Epimedium is the main underplanting beneath.

It's definitely a treat to see all this horticultural eye candy. Yet though cultivated plants should be enjoyed simply for what they are, but some of us want to see names on them! Beautiful color... flaming pink?


Other plants along the walk had much more fuss made over them, such as this one. There was even a plaque describing the Loderi group, which I haven't included but you get the point. I also saw a number of very worn plastic labels. When I criticize this point I am also thinking of what is lacking in the public garden where I work. Time and again, I hear from visitors that they want good labels - sometimes any labels, I suppose.

An example of one excellent interpretive plaque: simple, doesn't oversell, and writes a story

Rhododendron 'Alice Street' was just starting to open. A fine, easy on the eyes yellow.

A really great sight. Even if there is no name on it!

While there I saw others stopping by to gaze at this beauty. We may not know its name, but we certainly enjoyed the view!

and who could deny its magnificence at close range?


As well as rhododendrons, there were other sights worthy of note.
For example, this lovely Acer palmatum 'Shindeshojo'.  If this is the new deshojo, it must've put old deshojo in the shade.


.. with apologies for the smudge, lower left.

There was lots to examine, and plenty to wonder at, despite the earliness of this slow entrance to Vancouver's Spring. I would visit again (and again), next around May 15th, when the mid-Spring temperatures have climbed and the main bloom sequence should peak. I leave you with another not-rhododenron, and a rarity. After all, this is a botanical garden!

Magnolia cavaleriei var. playpetala ~ evergreen mag wonder!

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