San Francisco, California
Tucked away in the California redwoods just a crow's mile or two from the Pacific Ocean is Enjoy Rhododendrons - a preeminent rhododendron nursery and woodland garden. In these ten acres, all but two sections of the genus Rhododendron are represented along with the finest collection of maddeniis found anywhere.
The nursery, established in 1975 on Joy Ridge in Sonoma County, has a striking number of plants all neatly queued in rows ready to be moved up or moved out. While there are 45,000 plants (and still counting), each has the look of a specially tended individual. There is hardly a weed to be found; when one bolts up it's quickly plucked.
The pristine organization of the nursery is complimented by the informality of the adjacent home and garden. Located downhill in a canyon, California native redwoods, tanbark oaks and ferns play host to surrounding rhododendrons. Tiny paths weave in and out giving visitors a chance to view all the plants. At the hub of the gardens is a small house - described as a multifaceted jewel box - designed by a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Surrounding the home are primarily rhododendron species including every maddenii in cultivation. In spring their sweet fragrances permeate the hillside which is accented with the brilliant colors of vireyas and stunning examples of "big leafs" just reaching blooming maturity. The topography is dotted with felled redwood stumps making a welcome home for some of the epiphytic species. Also to be found is a concentration of rhododendrons from the taliense, arboreum, lapponicum and barbatum series.
An important function of Enjoy Rhododendrons is to evaluate new maddenii hybrids worthy of distribution. Several crosses being grown are from the Kensington hybridizer, Robert Scott, ('Lemon Mist', 'Pink Snowflakes' and 'Scott's Valentine'). A similar vireya project is under way.
Enjoy Rhododendrons began with the planting of the California native Rhododendron macrophyllum by Paul Molinari and his partner Doug Schaeffer. While Doug has gone into the real estate business, Paul has continued with the nursery and the plantings. A friend once commented, "You guys ought to be stopped." That's unlikely since Paul's enthusiasm and energy for rhododendrons never wanes.
FOOTNOTE: Enjoy Rhododendrons is a wholesale nursery. Because of its small staff, appointments are necessary.
Enjoy Rhododendrons will be visited as part of the garden tours during the 1991 Annual Convention, April 10-14 in Oakland, California.
Karen Moreback, California Chapter member and chapter publicity chairman, enjoys working with the vireya collection at the Strybing Arboretum.