Cowichan Bay, British Columbia, Canada
Reprinted from the Victoria Chapter Newsletter
When planning a garden, it's a good idea to keep in mind planting associations. When one plant is in flower plan to have another plant nearby to either contrast or compliment it. This will help to show the best attributes of each.
Rhododendrons are beautiful in both leaf and flower and we can use this to our advantage. Rhododendron yakushimanum with its tight compact growth habit and lovely velvety grey foliage would make a good combination with Cyclamen neapolitanum which has a mottled green and grey leaf. In August and September, the pink or white cyclamen flower contrasts with the grey foliage of R. yakushimanum.
Rhododendron fictolacteum with its brown indumentum could be used to advantage with daffodils. The yellow cups would look great in front of the large leaves. Something that might be nice to try would be to carpet the ground with the small early flowering Narcissus cyclamineus; the size difference would be striking. Light conditions might be a problem, but with some imagination this could be overcome.
Another plant which would be nice with R. fictolacteum is Stuart Holland's hybrid of 'Royal Flush' x R. xanthocodon, 'Transit Gold', with its hanging yellow bells. An under planting of variegated hosta would add interest during the summer.
An early spring combination might be R. fargesii under planted with a sea of blue scillas, the pink of the rhododendron contrasting with the sea of blue.
Just as we place rhododendrons in the garden to try to capture the late afternoon sunlight striking the back of the florets, we can create pleasant sights with planting combinations.