Outstanding. Just one word that captures the quality of the Rhododendron display this year. Previously I mentioned a subspecies of Rhododendron arboreum. A hybrid affiliated to this species, R. aff. arboreum hybrid produces a wall of colour covered in mauve trusses of bloom to a height of five metres. Looking behind the wall of vegetation reveals a two metre layer. The plant at one stage, several years previously, becoming top heavy, collapsing, then sending up skywards shoots that have matured into the growth seen today.
Next to this plant is a more delicate flower, pink in bud to unfurl white, R. bureavii from Northern parts of Yunnan Province, S.W. China. The leaves of this species also attract attention. The reverse is covered evenly and thickly in brown indumentum.
The flowers of R. yunnanensis (also from S.W.China and N.E. Myanmar) release a heady perfume. This in itself is worth visiting the Garden for. The area around this plant is saturated with this most compelling scent.
Representatives of the collecting prowess of E.H. Wilson and Joseph Rock are worth hunting for. The blue of R. augustinii ssp. augustinii is cascading through the mature plants. Look into the individual flowers of Joseph Rock’s, R. augustinii ssp. hardyi. White petals with the top inner lobes marked decisively green. These spatterings of colour are unusual and worthy of comment. Designed to entice pollinators to the flower, in both, the flower parts flail out wildly.
So, for a visual feast of walls of colour, banks of perfume and intricacies of design; walk through the north or east gate and enjoy the experience.