It will be of no surprise that an attractive plant has been found in this particular genus. One in which has been so highly regarded by the garden, the country and indeed the world. Rhododendron has seamlessly found a home in many of our hearts. In all the countries I have lived in, I am always asked about our sophisticated Scottish counterparts who scour for prized Rhododendron.
During a post Christmas amble through the garden I decided to venture into the glasshouses; Pigs & blankets, turkey included. A safe haven within the warmth of the collection and less strenuous activity post Christmas. Despite being based at the botanics for a few years now I always seem to find something new, hidden to me previously through inexperienced eyes or brought into focus when showing off. This day was no different.
Rhododendron himantodes was practically eye level when immersed within the cloud forests of Borneo. Tucked into a nearby tree the plant poked perfectly out catching my attention. The narrow strap foliage was complemented beautifully with an explosion of white flowers in the upper half of the plant. However, it was the back of the flowers which caught my eye. The backs matched my complexion, pasty white with freckles. The leopard print patterning permeated through the back of the flower, diffusing into the floral performance.
It would not be fair to mention this plant without paying tribute to the collector. The late George Argent who collected it in Sarawak, Malaysia, 1978. This plant resides in the Montane Tropics glasshouse.