It is Still Rhododendron Season
If asked when is the best time to see rhododendrons in the Delaware Valley, most people answer mid-May. This is just a portion of the show at the Scott Arboretum. Dramatic displays of voluptuous rhododendron blooms enliven the Rhododendron Collection, the Crum Woods , and the Wister Garden until the end of June.
Cultivars like R. ‘June Champion’, ‘June Maid’, and ‘June Miss’ were bred and named by our first director, Dr. John Wister, at the Scott Arboretum. He undertook this breeding program to have rhododendrons in bloom during Swarthmore College’s graduation ceremony in June. Unfortunately his efforts are not enjoyed by graduates and visiting families because college graduation now occurs in May, though visitors can enjoy his successes until the end of June.
Most of Wister’s crosses were with R. maximum because it is a later flowering species. It is just beginning to bloom in the Rhododendron Collection this week. Described as one of his best hybrids, ‘June Melody’ is late-blooming with yellow-throated, white flowers on dark green foliage.
While director of the Scott Arboretum, Wister was also the director of the Tyler Arboretum in Media, Pennsylvania. Because of his involvement with both institutions he shared his plants from the rhododendron breeding program with both Tyler and Scott. Some plants at Tyler are actually labeled with Scott Arboretum accession numbers. Tyler also boasts some good late blooming hybrids like ‘Summer Jewel’ and ‘July Hope’. ‘July Hope’ peaks the last week of June, three weeks after what is considered the peak of rhododendron season.
Come explore these collections to see how you can extend the rhododendron season in your own garden.