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Rhodo round up

April 3, 2020

An email from Rhodo Dave to his network of rhododendron growers reminds us that it is time for the spring feed. I have two jars of food in the cupboard. One is filled with all beige pellets, the other with beige, dark brown and turquoise pellets. I should – and have more than once said I will – label the jars so I know which is the March feed and which the July feed. But if I did that I wouldn’t have a reason to call Dave after his email is sent. Where’s the fun in that?

As soon as he knows who’s on the phone, without waiting for me to ask, he tells me it’s the beige pellets. Then we chat for a few minutes about life in the time of Covid-19. Then we talk about having a six-feet-apart coffee (or maybe even a glass of wine) on their large deck once it warms up enough. (This time last year it was plenty warm enough to sit outside starting in early March. Shame the quarantine wasn’t then.) Phone call over, along with the day’s human contact.

I go outside to inspect the rhodos and clear out the dead leaves that have fallen.

Deer generally leave rhododendrons alone, which is why I planted two at the back of the house several years ago. These were the two Dave adopted after I complained to him that they hadn’t flowered since the first year. “What are you feeding them?” he’d asked. I stared at him, perplexed. Feed? “They get sunshine,” I said. “I water them. Am I supposed to take them out for dinner, too?” Yes, he’d informed me, filling two jars with food for my poor, starving rhodos. Since then, with his help, I’ve acquired four more.

An inspection reveals that there are three flowers on one of the original rhodos – the deep shocking pink ones. The other older shrub appears to have no flowers at all. This may or may not change, as this one flowers much later than the other. Fingers crossed.

The one closest to the kitchen door (planted there because its flowers are supposed to have a beautiful scent) does not inspire confidence, unlike last year, its second year on my property. Last spring it looked as if it was going to produce dozens of red flowers. Alas, these all turned out to be new leaf growth. Not a flower, scented or otherwise. Lots more red clusters this year, but nothing that looks like an actual flower. Disappointing.

There is one flower on the rhodo planted in a big pot on the deck. I’ve forgotten what colour its blooms are. Look forward to be reminded. Shame there won’t be more than one reminder. The little one in the smaller pot in the shadiest spot, the one that produced three large flowers last year, shows no sign of flowering this year. (Insert sad face here.)

Down at the front of the house, in the bed I created a couple of years ago, there is some promise. There are two soon-to-be dark purple flowers waiting to open. The first year this shrub flowered at the same time as the two ceanothus plants. The combination of the blue and purple flowers was quite stunning. Last year they bloomed separately, which was a pity. The two ceanothus plants are looking extremely spindly. Not sure they will flower at all this year. (Insert another sad face.)

All rhodos have now received their beige feed. Hopefully by May the quarantine will be lifted. May is the time for candling, something I claim to never remember how to do. An excuse to get Rhodo Dave over for a coffee and catch up on the deck. Fingers once again crossed.

2 Comments
  1. Rhodo Dave permalink

    It was the multi coloured ones this time, the beige is for July

    • Oops. My bad – in the writing, not the feeding. Rhodos (and lilacs) did indeed get the multi-coloured pellets.

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