Information for the amateur gardener

Rhododendron President Roosevelt July 6

The Rhododendron President Roosevelt with variegated foliage has the wow factor according to some who see it.

Rhododendron President Roosevelt 02

I guess at one time I would have fully agreed.   However in recent years having been in touch with so many gardeners I have found that my fondness for variegated foliage is not shared by everyone.  In fact, some see variegation as almost an abomination.

Rhododendron President Roosevelt  (3)

Although I may now look upon variegation with a slightly different eye these days I cant say that I share the dislike to any great extent.   Take Hostas for instance.   I think even the hardcore of the plain green brigade would find it difficult to dislike them.

Rhododendron President Roosevelt

Well anyway, what do you think of the Rhododendron President Roosevelt?

I wouldnt say that its my favourite Rhododendron in the garden but it is quite eye catching.

The conical clusters of red and white blooms  held above the showy foliage usually appears in the third week of May, they were a little later this year owing to the very late Spring.  However June has been better than normal and everything is now hunky dory.

• Hardiness *** Fully hardy

• Position *** Partial shade/acidic soil

• Height *** Will eventually reach 6ft

• Mail order

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The very poor Spring did hold back the Rhododendrons and Azaleas a couple of weeks, however most of them still bloomed as well as usual.  Here below is how a few of them were looking in June.

I know the names of very few of these, the first one below is quite a deep purple Rhoddie and is the last one of all to bloom in the garden

Rhododendron purple (2)

This pink one below in the main border of the back garden is the first Rhododendron we planted in our garden about twenty seven years ago.

Rhododendron in main border

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Here we have a Rhododendron by the pond adding a splash of colour to the area.

Rhododendron by the pond

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I may have mentioned that President Roosevelt may not quite be my favourite Rhododendron.

This one below in our woodland, (Taurus) most definitely is.  Flowers April/May and is quite outstanding.

Rhododendron Taurus 5

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They really do perform well in this bed near our patio area.

Rhododendrons early june

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We have two of the Azalea Luteum in the round garden.  I like the colour of this one and I think I may be correct in saying that it is the most fragrant Azalea available, you may well be able to tell me differently.

Azalea Luteum (03)

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The aptly named Azalea Glowing Embers also in the round garden makes quite a striking statement.

Azalea glowing embers in June

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The very pink dwarf evergreen Azalea in one of the Heather beds gives a good show in late May but to be quite honest I think it suits this position best of all when the flowers have gone over.

Azalea Maria Elena

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Walk through our garden gate and we have a narrow passageway eighteen ft long. The raised border in this area has a few choice plants.  Well if they are so choice why dont I know the name of this Azalea.

Azalea in June  (4)

Below is a picture of the main area of the back garden, taken in the evening of July 4th.

Back garden July 4th (3)

 

 

 

© 2013, Alistair. All rights reserved.


  1. I am with you, have never met a variegated plant that I did not like or want.
    Deborah at Kilbourne Grove recently posted..A Birds Eye View 2013

  2. Cathy says:

    Alistair, your azaleas are gorgeous! We need to plant a few more ourselves. I love that deep purple one. Simply stunning. Last year we planted Capistrano, which has butter yellow blooms. We have Nova Zembla (three of them) in the front of the house plus one of the ubiquitous lavender ones. We also have some white ones. Franklin Roosevelt is stunning. I’ll keep my eye out for that one as I am definitely a lover of variegated foliage! You’ve now gotten me thinking of places to add these shrubs in our garden!
    Cathy recently posted..Unwelcome Guests: Roseslug Sawfllies

  3. Larry says:

    Your rhododendrons are very lovely as is your garden. I like the idea that you have rhodies spread about the gardens… I assume you have acidic soil. We are quite neutral regarding ph so I grow almost all my rhododendrons in an area that I have adjusted for ph and soil consistency. We are headed into a few days of tropical dew points up to 75. Certainly not my favorite weather by any means so I’ll continue to try to get things accomplished by first light when it’s a bit cooler. The positive side of things is that it may bring the lilies and hemerocallis on sooner. I have some concerns as we are scheduled for a national magazine photo session on the 20th. The other negative is that the mosquitoes have arrived… I sprayed about an acre of the gardens this morning and hopefully that will keep them at bay for a few weeks. Do take care and hello to your wife… Larry
    Larry recently posted..Our program may be temporarily interrupted by delphinium pictures…

    • Alistair says:

      Hi Larry, Our soil is on the acidic side but not to the extent that other plants struggle. Our Summer is proving to be so much better than last year and never out of the garden doing one thing or the other. Phew, we don’t get mosquitoes and being on the east coast we are not much bothered with midges which cause a lot of distress further west.

  4. kininvie says:

    “In fact, some see variegation as almost an abomination.” I guess that’s me! Certainly, if I had President Roosevelt, I’d be constantly thinking it had picked up some nasty virus which was causing the leaves to go yellow.
    You are right in that rh.luteum is almost the only azalea with strong fragrance. There are a few others. You should try rh.arborescens I think. It’s late flowering (ie now), slow growing here and quite small, but has a strong scent – completely different from rh. luteum. It seems pretty hardy with me and seldom gets its young growth frosted.
    Maybe rh.wardii for a yellow rhodie? Glendoick sells it.

    • Alistair says:

      You’re not alone Kininvie, and some take it a stage further. I remember reading how one very famous landscape gardener of yesteryear would remove the flower buds of Rhododendrons as he thought they spoiled the whole effect, I think it may have been Capability Brown. I will check out both of those which you mention.

  5. Alistair it is just gorgeous that back garden. And how lucky to be able to grow azaleas and rhodies….I do like the variegated leaves of Mr. Roosevelt and the flower…it is a wonderful specimen plant for any garden.
    Donna@Gardens Eye View recently posted..Gardens Eye Journal-July 2013

  6. spurge says:

    Oh my, I’ve never seen a variegated rhododendron before! I do like the foliage and imagine it would add interest to the garden even when not blooming, which is something rhodies are not generally too good at. But I can see why you like Taurus better – wow. All of your rhodos and azaleas look fabulous. That Glowing Embers truly burns with light. These plants struggle where I am due to our heavy alkaline clay. I am trying to grow a few in amended soil here and there, but you are lucky to be able to grow them so easily.
    spurge recently posted..Roses Part 2

  7. Mark and Gaz says:

    A lovely collection of colourful Azaleas and Rhododendrons Alistair! And your garden looks fab as always!

  8. Astrid says:

    The garden is looking very lovely, Alistair. I do not have rhododendrons or azaleas so I especially like seeing them in other peoples’ gardens.
    I do like variegation and quite like President Roosevelt but I can see why you love Taurus. It’s a beauty!
    Astrid recently posted..Bed 4

  9. Sunil Patel says:

    Hi Alistair, that’s a lovely collection of Rhododendrons and Azaleas, each one looks a perfect specimen plant. I particularly like the variegation of “President Roosevelt”. The alkaline soil here means your pictures are the closest I’m going to get to enjoying them. Your garden is looking stunning as always.
    Sunil Patel recently posted..My Astrantia, Their Astrantia

  10. b-a-g says:

    Alistair – If I had a plant like Taurus in my garden, I’d be blogging about it every week. Great name too.
    b-a-g recently posted..Rhododendrons (04 JUL 2013)

    • Alistair says:

      B-a-g, Taurus is a stunning Rhododendron, I need to look for one named Aries and that would suit Myra and I just fine.

  11. Greggo says:

    Just piddling around your images and garden Quite striking I might add. Your garden must keep you very busy Al.

  12. Masha says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for showing me what rhodies and azaleas should actually look like :). I will never be able to grow them like that. I actually like the variegation because it provides out of season interest – my camellias and rhodies look a bit boring most of the year…. I love the shot of your garden, so lush and harmonious.
    Masha recently posted..Survivors of the Heat

  13. linniew says:

    Well Alistair we have learned to overlook if not actually ignore those gardeners (I won’t mention his name) who are so negative about variegated foliage. It is definitely a plus in shady places–I’ve come to quite appreciate some brightness on leaves. You are clearly a master grower of rhododendrons and I am just so relieved that you forgot the name of one. Sometimes I REMEMBER the name of one while I forget all the others… So you see there is a sort of balance. In conclusion, your summer garden is glorious as usual!
    linniew recently posted..Twigs, poles and lines

    • Alistair says:

      Linnie, I like that we can be a bit tongue in cheek in fact I have no idea of who you talk of, but he is not alone. More than one plant on this post that I don’t know the name of, in fact its not so long ago that you informed me regarding the name of silly penny or penance. To be honest any plant knowledge and gardening skills which I may have is very much down to Myra.

  14. I don’t think I saw a Rhododendron with variegated foliage before — I like it a lot. I love that last photo of your garden — it looks amazing! It’s too hot and humid to go outside and enjoy mine right now. Glad you are having good weather. P. x
    Pam’s English Garden recently posted..Four Outstanding Gardens

    • Alistair says:

      Pam, I don’t think there are many variegated Rhododendrons. The temperature reached 78f yesterday and this was enough for us to seek out a shady spot in the garden.

  15. Rick says:

    That ‘Taurus’ is exceptional, no wonder it is your favourite. On the question of variegated Rhododendrons I grow ‘Goldflimmer’ but it is rather disappointing as it seems to have lost most of its variegation probably due to being subject to too much shade……my fault. If my memory serves me right which it doesn’t always, at Crarae Gardens they have several large specimens of Azalea luteum round the entrance where the scent is overpowering. Certainly my number one for scent.
    Rick recently posted..More Meconopsis and Primulas

  16. kininvie says:

    Dear Alistair, If you had stacked comments on your blog so that I could reply directly to people (not saying who, but we all know, don’t we, bitch, bitch,) who make disparaging comments about sensible people who like their leaves properly green and not blotchy or marred by yellow stripes, I wouldn’t have to waste your time by adding to the bottom of your comments column….:-)
    kininvie recently posted..Overgrowth

  17. I don’t love everything variegated but I do like President Roosevelt, even the name. All your azaleas and rhododendrons are gorgeous.
    Carolyn @ Carolyn’s Shade Gardens recently posted..Row Your Way to Color with Annuals Revisited

  18. Helene says:

    I really like variegated foliage, on most plants, but on a rhododendron? Nope, I don’t think so, somehow it doesn’t look right! Maybe because I haven’t seen one efore, but I don’t think I will get one myself. On hostas, pieris, euonymus, etc, they really have a place though.

    Loved the last photo, your garden looks gorgeous!
    Helene recently posted..Hot colours for a hot July

  19. Alistair you have some beautiful azaleas and rhododendrons, I didn’t know some people dislike variegated foliage I quite like it though is depends on the varigation and plant but that goes for all foliage, I find some variegated foliage very beautiful, I also like golden foliage, they light up the garden, I love your multi stemmed (trunked) silver birch, Frances
    Island Threads recently posted..mulch and manure

    • Alistair says:

      Frances, I think there are more gardeners in favour of the variegation than those against. The tree is the Himalayan Birch Jacquemontii.

  20. Your garden always inspires me Alistair. I bought my first azaleas this spring and am planting them with the trepidation of someone who has no experience with azaleas. I am even adding a few rhodos. I will be thrilled if one day that look have so spectacular as yours do!
    I have no prejudice against foliage variegation and actually go out of my way to introduce it into the garden. It makes green patches of foliage way more interesting in my opinion. And I think Rhododendron President Roosevelt with its interesting variegated foliage is just beautiful.
    Jennifer@threedogsinagarden recently posted..A Walled Garden

  21. Catherine says:

    What an impressive back garden and great to see someone using red without fear. I love the way those splashes of intense colour draw the eye around. I’m not much of a rhodie fan myself, being not overly fond of plants with such large flowers, but I say hooray for variegated foliage! It is the shady garden’s best friend.
    Catherine recently posted..A garden in Provence

  22. […] I feel a bit of a fraud.  A few weeks ago I read an article by Aberdeen Gardening on variegated shrubs.  As I was reading I found myself siding with the gardeners that are not keen […]

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