These massive beauties make me laugh and until Jeff Koons hits town and shapes some of his iconic puppies out of them, my artistic aspirations will have to be satisfied by cake decorating; these particular blooms are the exact shade of Allen's 'Ripe Rasberries.' I almost feel like sending in a suggestion for the Women's Weekly Birthday Cake book! You can tell I'm still reeling from Miss C's birthday extravaganza...
At this time of year, every shade of Rhodo is ubiquitious and yet completely unique. They are seriously showy and have always struck me as azaleas on steroids. In my little bit of research, it seems this is precisely the case both in flower and stature; the main difference is one of size. This shot demonstartes it perfectly - you'll never see an azalea even vaguely comparing to a telegraph pole!
Additionally, most azalea blooms occur individually; that is one flower to one stem, whereas the rhodo's blossoms occur en masse. At Magic Garden, I have one pink specimen that is so heavy with flower, half the plant has bowed under the weight and there's a gaping hole between top and bottom. This has provided a neat window to an azalea behind but it does make me wonder about whether a rather severe prune is needed. Thanks to the good folk at wikipedia*, I've also learnt that whilst the word Rhododendron comes from the Greek: ροδον, rodon, meaning "rose", and δενδρον, dendron, meaning "tree", it cannot lay claim to its own alcoholic beverage. Next time you're in Korea, keep an eye out for Tugyonju, "azalea grape wine," and please, do post your thoughts.
As mentioned in my last post, the crab apple will always have a special place in my heart. I think they are just delightful, a tart intrusion upon the landscape and a more robust blossom than most. I am amazed that Magic Garden hasn't one hidden away and it saddens me greatly. Plus, OMG is so very well established, it's not like I can just pop one in willy-nilly - there's literally no room and even if I was to shoehorn one in, it wouldn't be fair as there's so much competition, it wouldn't thrive...which would disappoint me doubly. Until I can work out a more equitable arrangement for all, I am taking solance in my lovely neighbour's delighful specimen.
Positioned in the front yard, it is hidden behind a rather high hedge and you really only notice it from the side gate. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that its neighbour is this very fetching Magnolia, another favourite whose close proximity I had been lamenting. I love its languid branches and between these two beautifully compatible bedfellows, the canopy they create is a haven of cool shade. All that's missing is a hammock, a good book and me...maybe a houseboy on hand with a fresh pitcher of homemade lemonade.