The Garden Guide

Book: Colour schemes for the flower garden
Chapter: Chapter 11 Wood and shrubbery edges

Rhododendron planting

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Rhododendrons are usually planted much too close together. This is a great mistake; they should not be nearer than eight to ten feet, or even further, apart, especially in the case of ponticum and some of the larger-growing kinds. It is a common practice to fill up the edges of their prepared places with a collection of Heaths. The soil will no doubt suit Heaths, but I never do it or recommend it because I feel that the right place for Heaths is quite open ground, and there are other plants that I think look better with the young Rhododendrons. For my own liking the best of these are hardy Ferns�Male Fern, Lady Fern and Dilated Shield Fern, with groups of Lilies: L. longiflorum and the lovely rosy L. rubellum towards the front, and L. auratum further back. Some of the Andromedas, especially Catesboei and axillaris of the Leucothoe section, are capital plants for this use. Besides Lilies, a few other flowering plants suitable for the Rhododendron walk are: white Foxgloves, white Columbine, white Epilobium angustifolium, Trillium, Epimedium pinnatum, Uvularia grandiflora, Dentaria diphylla and Gentiana asclepiadea. In the same region, and also partly as edgings to the Rhododendron clumps, suitable small bushes are Rhododendron myrtifolium, the Alpenrose (R. ferruginium) and the sweet-leaved Ledum palustre. Later it was found that these wood-path edges offered such suitable places for the late-blooming Willow Gentian (G. asclepiadea), that it was still more largely planted. It delights in a cool place in shade or half-shade, and when in mid-September so many flowers are over and garden plants in general are showing fatigue and exhaustion, it is a pleasure to come upon the graceful arching sprays, their upper portions set with pairs of long blue flowers, looking fresh and bright and full of vigour.