Friday, April 28, 2006
Lepidote Rhododendrons: Blue And Otherwise.
Rhein's Luna, pictured above is a new addition to the garden this spring. It is lavender blue, but my camera seems to like the color blue and has made it look more blue than it really is. It's still beautiful, and I have some hope for its long-term survival, but I don't get too attached to blue rhododendrons until they've at least seen their first Iowa summer and winter. Blue lepidotes apparently mainly get their color from the Rhododendron Subsection lapponica, a group of sub-alpine and sub-arctic small shrubs, that may tolerate winter (or may not, if no snow cover, which is often the case here), and dislike or hate hot weather. R. augustinii gives the best blue, but it turns up its toes here in the midwest, as do most of its direct progeny. Another lapponica, R. russatum, imparts a more purple blue, but is a little hardier parent, and russatum crossed with augustinii (thus russautinii) is half-way in between in both color and hardiness. If russautinii is crossed with a very hardy parent, it has some chance of survival here, and may give lavender blue flowers. Rhein's luna is russautinii X minus Carolinianum, so I have hopes. Bluenose, which I'll show later, when it blooms, is quite hardy here (russautinii X dauricum) but is prone to bark split on the trunk if winter sun hits it. It is a real beauty, a lighter lavender blue, and I love it dearly, and always ooh and ah every spring when it blooms next to a baby pink rhody.