When talking garden, just bring up Rhododendrons if you want to spot a Washington native.
I was conversing with a guy at my neighbor’s party last weekend. He complimented me on my front yard. I told him it would have a lot more color next week when the Rhododendron hits full bloom.
“I’m not so crazy about Rhododendrons,” he said.
“Did you grow up here?” I asked.
“How did you know?” he said with a surprised look.
Rhododendrons are everywhere in Washington State. They grow wild, and multiple varieties in different colors and sizes dot nearly every property. They thrive in the Northwest climate. I’ve learned many natives suffer from Rhododendron burn out.
In the Midwest, Rhododendrons struggle because of harsh winters and hot summers. If they survive, they’re small and far less spectacular. Midwesterners generally rave about the beauty of Rhododendrons. I’ve lived in Seattle for 13 years, and Rhododendrons aren’t as spectacular as when I first arrived.
My Rhododendron recurvoides throws off plentiful pretty pink blooms with cute spots for three weeks every spring. It’s a big variety with sturdy wood branches that have nice form. On the down side, when the blooms come down, my yard and anything nearby is a royal sticky mess. Spent flowers stick to shoe bottoms, spreading adhesive joy. I spend too much time cleaning up after mine.
I can relate to the Washington natives suffering from shrub burn out. The property I grew up on in Iowa had numerous overgrown Lilacs. Many gush about the beauty and smell of Lilacs, where I find them to be an annoying invasive shrubs.