Thursday, May 13, 2010

The pleasure of our gardens, part 5

May brings many beautiful colors to our gardens ~ and this year is no exception. While I have focused much attention in recent posts to the blossoming of our back yard rose bushes, including our First Prize, Mr. Lincoln and Queen Elizabeth roses, up in the front yard of our house ~ very quietly but efficiently ~ our rhododendrons have burst out with a beaucoup of bright, bell-shaped purple blooms.

According to Wikipedia, rhododendron comes from the Greek ~ rodo meaning "rose" and dendro meaning "tree" ~ and is a genus of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae. The rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal as well as the state flower of Washington and West Virginia.

One of the joys of having a perennial like a rhododendron is you can count on it blooming about the same time every year ~ come rain or shine ~ and the first week of May is when we mark in our gardening calendar for the rhododendron's yearly return. With two unusually late April rain showers, plus one earlier this week, our rhododendron bush has received plenty of moisture during the past month. Coupled with nice afternoon sunshine it receives from its northern exposure, it's become both a purple splendor in the front yard and visibly noticeable by our neighbors.

While the buds nurture for several months before opening up, and the green leaves can be appreciated throughout the year, the rhododendron blossoms for only about a month or so before wilting as Bay Area temperatures and humidity rise.

It's too bad that rhododendron blooms have such a short shelf life. Yet, it makes you appreciate the time they're smiling at us ~ and with their arms open wide.

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