Rhododendrons of all sizes and colours will be on display and for sale at the Cowichan Valley Garden Fair on April 27. (Submitted)

Rhododendrons to take centre stage at Cowichan Valley Garden Fair April 27

It’s not just the flowers that are eye catching

By Barrie Agar

A compressed spring seems to be our lot this year. Everything was kept in waiting by the protracted spell of cold weather and is now making up for lost time.

The rhododendrons seem to have come through without much difficulty, a few scorched leaves, but not too much damage. Although the rhododendron flower can look like it should be on a delicate orchid-like plant in a steamy jungle on the equator, they are generally very tough. If you look into where many of them are from it is understandable. Rhododendrons are found only in the northern hemisphere, although there is a tropical offshoot of singular beauty.

Many rhodos hail from the slopes of the Himalayas, an area not noted for its moderate climate. The higher in elevation a rhodo grows, the more likely it is to be hardy. Some, in fact, may spend the winter under snow. There are also rhodos from the eastern side of North America which are well acclimatized to cold winters. Hybrids of these are good choices for the homeowner who lives in an area that may have colder weather in the winter. The smaller leafed and dwarf rhodos such as R. impeditum, Snow Lady, Ginny Gee and Bob’s Blue provide a dazzling early spring display as well as being fairly trouble free. Larger growing varieties such as Scintillation, (pale pink) Taurus (brilliant red) Horizon Monarch (yellow with pink shadings) also give a colourful show later in April-May.

It’s not just the flowers that are eye catching, more and more now breeders are aiming for interesting and spectacular foliage as well. Indumentum, which is protective hair beneath the leaf can be showy in its own right. Sir Charles Lemon has a cinnamon pelt under its leaves, while Cherries and Merlot has a purple underside to its leaf that is attractive when the flowers are but a memory. Ever Red has dark reddish leaves that remain a deep colour all year.

To see some of the variety of flowers the rhododendron can produce visit local gardens or nurseries to see what is on offer. The Cowichan Valley Garden Fair takes place on Saturday, April 27, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cowichan Exhibition Grounds and showcases the rhododendron. A truss show displays the variety of rhodos in bloom at this time of year, and a host of local nurseries and growers will have their plants for sale. This is a good opportunity to see and purchase some otherwise difficult to find plants and meet with garden experts. The Master Gardeners will be there to answer your questions and The Cowichan Valley Rhododendron Society who put on the Fair, will have experts there happy to talk about their favourite plant!

Barrie Agar is the president of the Cowichan Valley Rhododendron Society, sponsors of the Cowichan Valley Garden Fair.


Rhododendrons of all sizes and colours will be on display and for sale at the Cowichan Valley Garden Fair on April 27. (Submitted)

Just Posted

Cowichan transgender woman hosting Gender Identity Expression Day

“We need to have a public conversation about this.”

Andrea Rondeau column: Chemainus Theatre Festival a unique, surprising venue

Not many towns the size of Chemainus can boast a year-round professional theatre

Sarah Simpson Column: Perfect road trip features flat tire and lost wallet

My husband is a loser. Not a loser in the dead-beat, good-for-nothin’… Continue reading

Are you 55 or older? Try 5 sports for free

June 5 event promotes BC 55+ Games and active living

Outlaws make statement in first spring hockey tourney

2011 team takes bronze in brilliant debut

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Coming up in Cowichan: From bike rodeo to ‘A Word About Consent’, lots on the calendar

Christian Science event coming to Duncan Saturday, May 25 “Breaking News: Freedom… Continue reading

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Most Read