A story of beauty, tempestuous weather and tragedy. All in a season’s growth for an otherwise hardy stalwart of the living plant collection.
Rhododendron lanigerum (see 2/2/2009 for original information) has developed to flowering stage from this previous description. In the intervening six weeks winter occurred in Edinburgh. Snow storms on the 8th February combined with below zero temperatures capped the buds to resemble the best vanilla ice cream cone. These low temperatures held the development of the buds. The protective brown scales cocooning the petals from the ravages of the weather.
Temperatures rose in the second half of the month leading to bud burst and colour.
The destruction came with the appearance of the early morning sun. Freezing overnight temperatures on Thursday 5 March and the appearance of bright early morning sun on Friday 6 caused cells to rupture and colour to be drained from the petals before they could thaw slowly. Strange that having waited so long to feel the heat from the sun it should be the destructive element that causes damage with the result that the petals go to mush.
Lessons to be learnt from this saga? Don’t count your blossom until your buds have burst……and even then our temperate maritime climate may still throw in a surprise.