Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bluenose Rhododendron

I've been thinking about blue flowered rhododendrons (or the lack thereof) that I could grow here in Iowa. RareFind nursery in New Jersey touts Bluenose, shown above in our garden this spring. It's named after a famous Nova Scotian racing schooner that's been pictured on Canadian stamps and coins. They say it's about the truest blue that can be grown in New England, and it grows like a weed here, but I wouldn't exactly call it a true blue; it's more of a violet blue. RareFind says it grows 3-4 feet high, but mine is easily 7 feet tall; however, I have mine in a fair amount of shade, as this rhododendron is very prone to bark splitting on the trunk if the winter sun hits it. It's a lovely thing, though, and quite a contrast to the usual pinks, whites, and mauves we see in lepidote rhodys. It's quite upright in growth pattern, which is useful, and I want to try and pair one with a deep mauve flowered rhody, but need to observe next spring for bloom sequences in my rhodys to get it right, and need to find a spot somewhat protected from the winter sun. I've had real mixed results with blue lepidotes, as they mostly hate our hot summers, but I did get a new plant of Blue Baron through our fiercely hot summer, so there is hope. Blue Baron is a hybrid with R. russatum parentage, which is the problem with it, and many other small blues, as russatum, found at elevations as high as 14,000 feet, hates hot weather, which means most of its hybrids turn up their toes in August in Iowa. I've got Blue Baron planted in a discreet spot, where it's demise will not be noticed, just in case. Stay tuned until next spring to see if it makes it through what is shaping up to be a tough winter. Posted by Picasa

I recently ran across your blog and I'm amazed at what you are growing in Iowa City. Picked up a Blue Baron this week with the complete understanding of how difficult Chicago summers can be on blue rhodies. Would like to know how yours is doing and if you have any suggestions. I'm active in the Midaest Chapter of the ARS and am not aware of any of our members having a great deal of success with this variety, but couldn't pass the plant up. Do you by chance grow Biloxi Blue. I've had two for some time now and they grow well for me...but without the intense color of Blue Baron!
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