One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Rhododendron Sunday


Ahh, a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning on Not Wisteria Lane.

The greening grass, the blue sky, the daily-growing perennials in the front border…all of it beckons to me, whispering ideas for how to pass the day: seedlings that should be repotted, locations of border perennials to be mapped out to help me learn the layout of this new garden. The lawn areas could be raked a bit more for winter thatch and snowplow-displaced driveway shells, and maybe even mowed. And the round end beds need to be finished, including the installation of the big birdbath.

Ah, Sunday. Project day. “Day of rest.”

Well, not exactly. Today we were hosting the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society for their annual dinner meeting at the restaurant, so it was a work day. But at least it was a garden-centric work day!

Also, by the time the event began, clouds began covering the sky. I’m sure I was not the only gardener present who was not unhappy at the prospect of it raining while we were inside doing other things!

Included in the festivities, due to the spring timing, is a cocktail hour display of lovely blooms currently in progress from various members’ yards and gardens, as well as a guest speaker and a plant auction, all before the dinner itself.

I was able to snap a few pictures to share with you all. At this late point in the day, I’m feeling a little dense that I didn’t take the time to jot down the names of these particular rhodos, as well.

In my defense, I was also making sure the room was warm enough, and that the microphone worked and trying to make the entree selection orders taken from tables more or less match what was actually prepared in the kitchen based on the advanced reservation, and all the other hundreds of attempts Mr. Murphy’s laws make behind-the-scenes at a typical function. In that regard, today was pretty mild.

And having the flowers there made it seem less like work.

The guest speaker for the afternoon was Steve Hootman, who’s the curator and co-executive director of the Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Garden, of Federal Way, WA. Did you know there are over a thousand species of rhododendrons? That makes it kind of a crime that we see the same two or three varieties in so many yards around us, doesn’t it? Be sure to check out the gallery of rhodo photos (heh…) at the RSF website, if you click (why wouldn’t you?)!

I didn’t get to see all of Steve’s slide show presentation, but what I saw was quite fascinating, I thought, particularly his botanical adventuring in the mountain wilds of Japan and Korea. I’ve always enjoyed tales of botanists exploring habitats, discovering new plants and harvesting seeds to bring home with them to cultivate and study.

I think I’d enjoy learning more of the stories behind so many of the plants we befriend in nurseries each year. Where do they come from, who are their relatives, what do they like, what do they hate? A plant’s 100 list can be pretty helpful in encouraging it to thrive, when you think about it.

Anyway, that was our day, and a good one it was. The weather was still a little grey and iffy on the way home…but really, all the better to see the fresh pink blush of this pretty cherry tree in Brewster.

After another enjoyable family dinner and a new (!!!) episode of “Desperate Housewives”, I’m happy to report I did find time to transplant some of my more eager sunflower seedlings into larger pots.

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