I had a chance last week to view the glories of the David G. Leach Rhododendron Research Station of Holden Forests and Gardens near Madison, Ohio. This is an appointment-only aspect of Holden and even that was curtailed this year as their traditional Memorial Day open houses had to be put on hold.
Stephen Krebs is the director of the station and I met with the Collections Manager Conner Ryan for a wonderful walk through the over 2000 rhododendrons on this woodland garden site. Fabulous foliage, beautiful blossoms including elaborate “flares” on the petals, oranges to deep reds to whites and pinks and different colors on the various flower parts. Not to mention huge trees overhead casting shade, magnolias, Japanese maples, the coarse bark of black locust. Quite the scene. Put on your calendar to get a spot for the open houses next Memorial Day timeframe, coronavirus-willing.
This visit was the icing on the cake for me as I think about a Rhododendron talk I was supposed to give this April and which is now postponed until next April (hopefully). The genus Rhododendron, a member of the Ericaceae family, includes what we call azaleas and rhododendrons and is a favorite for many, with over 1000 species around the world (with countless more cultivars) of typically acid-loving, good drainage-loving plants.
My wife and I saw incredible Himalayan and Mediterranean rhododendrons in botanic gardens in Scotland last fall and I have an incredible Rhododendron ‘English Roseum’ specimen right outside my office window in Wooster at the OSU-Wooster campus, though in this year of campus distancing hardly anyone sees its typical late-May to early-June floral display. OSU’s Secrest Arboretum is open in Wooster, and now is the time to enjoy rhododendrons and azaleas and many other lovely late spring-blooming plants.