Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lake Tapps Rhododendron Garden and Nursery

Our weather lately has been just stupendous, if a little warm for me (low to mid-80s), especially if I want to work in the garden. I've made some great progress lately with all the plants that I've bought this spring. So yesterday I decided to take the day off from digging holes and popping plants into beds, and go to visit a local nursery that I've known about since we moved here, but have never visited -- Lake Tapps Rhododendron Garden and Nursery.

This family-owned nursery, located just a few miles from me, nestled under 3 acres of fir trees, sells hundreds of Rhododendron and Azalea varieties, as well as other shade-loving trees such as Japanese maples, and shrubs such as Mountain Laurel and Hydrangeas. Stuart Imrie is a Rhody hybridizer who has been operating this nursery since the late 80s.

I had a great time wandering the nursery and display garden. I was actually shopping for a R. sinogrande, which I found. I wish I had more room for Rhodys, because there were a couple more that I would have bought. Maybe in a few years when I enlarge the front garden.

'Super Flimmer' -- a sport of 'Gold Flimmer' that Stuart discovered and has propagated. I did a Google search for both varieties, and it looks like this one has a much larger gold center than 'Gold Flimmer.'

'Super Flimmer' has an old-fashioned lavender flower and such a pretty leaf, I was tempted

Enormous deep, bell-shaped flower

'Pink Walloper' definitely packs a wallop!

New foliage on Rhodys is known as candles -- I love the new leaves at this stage, it's almost as good as more flowers

The nursery has four or five hoophouse shade structures filled with Rhodys

I could see through the shade cloth a large group of 'Super Flimmer'

I also love the powdery covering that appears on new foliage on some Rhodys, known as indumentum

I found a small group of lovely, healthy R. sinogrande -- more great new foliage covered with indumentum

Indumentum on R. rex

R. yakushimanum 'Mist Maiden'

Rhododendron 'Cherries and Cream' is past the flowering stage, but the new foliage is such a wonderful bronze chocolate color!

This lovely specimen was R. hodgsonii -- I admired the lovely dome shape, which would work well in a Japanese or Chinese garden

R. loderi 'Queen Mary'

Great variegated foliage on this hawthorn maple, Acer crataegifolium 'Veitchii'

This Japanese maple was lit up by the sunshine!

Mountain laurel flower starting to open

Kalmia latifolia 'Ostbo Red' -- Stuart calls these unopened flowers "Hershey Kisses"

As I was paying for my R. sinogrande, Stuart gave me plenty of great advice on planting it: Put it in the shade, give it lots of water all summer, and incorporate plenty of bark mulch into the planting hole.

If you're on the East side of Puget Sound, and you're looking for a Rhody, Azalea or Hydrangea, be sure to check out Lake Tapps Rhododendron Garden and Nursery. I visited when they were past their prime, but I still found plenty to ogle!