Prickett & Ellis is having a drinks reception this week in the wonderful Kenwood House to celebrate our 250th anniversary. It is the perfect time of year to be gently strolling the grounds near the house as they are ablaz ...
Prickett & Ellis is having a drinks reception this week in the wonderful Kenwood House to celebrate our 250th anniversary. It is the perfect time of year to be gently strolling the grounds near the house as they are ablaze with the famously luxuriant blooms of mature rhododendrons.
The rhododendron is one of those plants that incite passion – a love or hate species. They have been so widely planted and have adapted in certain areas so well that they have almost reached nuisance level. The one thing that stops people growing them is that they hate lime – so if you don’t have the right soil in your garden you have to grow them in pots or raised beds filled with ericaceous soil.
However, a solution to that problem has been found – you can now buy lime-tolerant varieties which is a very exciting development in the world of rhodie lovers. The revolutionary new “Inkarho” lime tolerant rootstock is particularly recommended for growing Rhododendrons on neutral clay soils, up to pH7. This patented rootstock was developed from a Rhododendron growing in a German lime quarry, and has been the subject of an extensive 20 year breeding and testing programme. These plants are grown under licence in Germany, and enable choice hardy hybrids and yakushimanum varieties to be grafted on the rootstock and grown in a much wider range of soil types than ever before. They are hungry plants and require more feeding than other Rhododendrons to keep their foliage a healthy dark green. Here’s a taste of what is available to choose from:
Rhododendron Anuschka INKARHO – Striking bright red buds open to gorgeous rosy pink flowers in late May. A lovely very hardy yakushimanum hybrid that has attractive dark green foliage. Height 75-100cm in 10 years.
Rhododendron Bellini INKARHO – this is a good tough yellow from Northern Germany with bright yellow flowers with dark red markings in the throat during May. Height 130-160cm in 10 years.
Rhododendron Bloombux INKARHO – billed as ‘a wonderful flowering alternative to troublesome box hedging’! Lots of clusters of soft pink flowers in June. The plant responds well to trimming after flowering. Height 50-75cm in 10 years. Easy to grow in most soils. It takes trimming in its stride, so if you want to clip it after flowering, you can create any shape you want, or simply trim into low hedges to around your flower-beds. This plant avoids the awful box-blight, stays green when trimmed, and flowers beautifully, so it is a brilliant replacement for box hedging – hmmmn.
Rhododendron Graffito INKARHO – a wonderful new flower. White with a prominent wine red flare on the upper lobe in late May. This plant is particularly hardy with attractive dark green glossy leaves. Height 150cm in 10 years.
There are many more but that pretty much gives you an idea of the colour range. They are all supposed to be easy to grow – so have a go if they are your thing.
By the way – did you know?
Some types are now a pest in Britain, because they out-compete many native plants and, because their leaves contain toxins that some animals find inedible, their spread is hard to control. Honey made from rhododendron pollen or nectar can cause hallucinations, loss of co-ordination and vertigo, but only if it has been made by the bees very recently. This is known as mad honey disease!