It is always so very cheering to spot the Rhododendron Cilpinense in gardens before the true arrival of Spring
We don’t actually have Cilpinense in our own garden. I do however constantly spot it in other folks front gardens. I suppose if I were to skulk around back gardens I would see just as many of them, however it doesn’t seem to be an acceptable pastime.
I was always taken aback at the sight of this Rhododendron at the beginning of March. In fact I have seen it opening blooms in February in milder Winters.
For some reason I had difficulty tracing the name of this early bloomer.
Lets stop right there for one moment!! Cilpinense is not! the Rhododendron which I set out to talk about today, but I guess it does have its merits. The Rhoddie which I have seen even more often and the one which I was hoping to get a chance to photograph and profile was Praecox another very early bloomer which I think is superior.
The reason for this mix up came about whilst visiting my 92 year old mother who lives in very sheltered housing. This type of accommodation is an in between, its not quite a care home for the elderly, but it does provide a good deal of care whilst giving them a flat of their own.
Well to get to the point, as I was parking my car at mothers place I spotted a flower bed with several of these Rhoddies in bloom of which I didn’t know the name. Having my camera with me I took a few shots, many of the blooms were still to open, it was the 6th of March and I decided to get more shots in a weeks time. One week later the weather had turned very cold and the snow returned. Unfortunately the blooms had turned brown, ah well see if I can get a couple of better pictures next year.
At this stage I took it into my head that this was Praecox, I don’t know why, I have always known Praecox colour was more in the pale lilac/purple hue, well anyway lets get back to Cilpinense. How did I find out the name of this little beauty, well whilst visiting a garden blog which I like to keep up to date with I found that Linnie from the USA was showing this very plant, and it is indeed Cilpinense, Linnie says it is also commonly known as silly penance.
This evergreen Rhododendron Cilpinense is slow growing and will eventually reach 3ft/90cm, apparently taking ten to twenty years before doing so. The blooms which open in late February early March I would describe as being white with pale pink shading.
Most Rhododendrons prefer a shady sort of spot, Cilpinense is also said to be happy enough in full sun. Like all other Rhoddies, plant them shallow, acidic soil is essential, top dress with ericaceous compost to increase acidity if necessary.
• Hardiness – Fully hardy
• Height – 90cm
• Position – Full sun/part shade
Mothers home – well its not all hers although the staff seem uncertain.
Trees in the garden, much as I love them, very often they cause me quite a headache.
Actually the only problem arises from action taken twenty eight years ago.
When we bought this house we mistakenly thought the garden was huge. We planted so many trees resulting over time in giving us a truly shade garden. A shade garden looks great and gives much needed shelter from the searing heat in Summer.
There lies the problem, in Aberdeen even in the height of Summer maximum sunshine is a necessity, well we do get the occasional heatwave.
In our woodland area we had this Sycamore which had grown very large, it did look good though. Unfortunately it was causing too much shade so we decided to take action which we are not exactly proud of. It may be a warning to younger gardeners to think twice before getting carried away with tree planting.
Not so very long ago I would have tackled jobs like this on my own. These days its a job for the tree surgeon. I would highly recommend Charles Mckellar below of (Aberdeen Tree Surgeons) 01224 877764. Tell them the recommendation came from me.