Arthur W. Headlam, Bentleigh, Australia
R. 'Bric-a-Brac' juvenile foliage
Photo by Arthur Headlam
Much has been written on the subject of rhododendron foliage, particularly that of the large leaved species, many of which have attractive indumentum. R. yakushimanum has been eulogized in numerous publications for the beauty of its narrow recurved leaves with a thick grey indumentum below and the new growth with a grey tomentum which gradually disappears as the foliage matures. The large leaves of R. sinogrande and other members of the genus have all had their share of the limelight, but the foliage of some of the smaller leaved rhododendrons seems in some measure to have been overlooked, excepting perhaps the bronze new growth of R. williamsianum and its progeny. Interesting foliage is not necessarily confined to the species. This year I particularly noticed the attractive bronze new growth of 'Bric-a-Brac' (R. leucaspis x R. moupinense). The hairs on the margins of the leaves and small branchlets seemed almost unreal as they were accentuated by the low angled light of the morning sun.
As the opportunity offers, enthusiasts should take more time to study the attractive aspects of foliage of some of both the species and hybrids. They will find a new interest which will give a great deal of pleasure.