Saturday, December 16, 2006
Rhododendron Mary Fleming
The birds in the deep back ravine were having a chirpathon, perhaps to celebrate our continued mild weather, as I walked along the edge with my camera this morning. I wasn't looking for birds though; I wanted to take a picture of the flower buds on rhododendron Mary Fleming. The bud scales are bright, rosy red, giving this little plant a cheerful, jaunty appearance in winter. I had this rhody in my first garden, and perhaps it was too subtle for me at that age, as I don't remember being very struck by it then... a time when I was pursuing bigger and brighter in the garden. With age has come a better appreciation of quiet loveliness and small details, and Mary Fleming is now much admired as a small plant new to this garden this year. The rosy red buds open in April, as shown below, to two tone flowers, which in their initial, partially opened stage contrast strikingly with the bud scales. The flowers then open further to reveal soft yellow centers with salmon pink edges. It's a Guy Nearing hybrid; Mr. Nearing died twenty years ago this year at age 96... his New Jersey garden was the source of many of our best lepidote rhododendron hybrids. Mary Fleming grows only to perhaps four feet by three feet, and blooms in April.