This project was inspired by my clients’ travels in Bhutan, where wild and cultivated Rhododendrons grace the mountains en masse.
To re-create a mini version of the effect at their wooded property in Willowemoc, NY, a large and conspicuous area of scrubby trees and brambles had to be cleared, rocks had to be removed, a special soil blend for these acid-soil-loving evergreen shrubs was brought in to create berms, and a drip irrigation system to keep it all watered was installed. There are tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of cultivars of Rhododendron, and I was fortunate to be able to source ten different cultivars at Korwan’s Tree Farm in Jeffersonville NY, who specializes in these evergreens and are grown from seed and cuttings by Mrs. Korwan. Thirty-three individual plants were installed, which included not only Rhododendron, but Azalea and Mountain Laurel as well, which accept the same growing conditions and flower on the earlier and later ends of the Rhodies, (from April to June), which is the same timing as Bhutan’s flowering apparently. When not in flower, the contrasting foliage of all the different cultivars will extend the interest of this garden. Can’t wait to see this garden at maturity in 3 years!