Friday, 23 May 2008


I grew up near Ashridge House, once home to Elizabeth I, and taking the dogs to walk in the adjacent woods was a regular Sunday morning activity.

Many years later I worked for a short while at Ashridge Management College and whilst we worked very hard, there were significant benefits! Staff were positively encouraged to use the grounds (a real treat as they are private and only open to the public for a limited amount of time in the summer). In May it was a delight to stroll along a half-mile Rhododendron walk at lunch-time and using the swimming pool and sauna after work wasn't too much of a hardship either!

In recent years the nearest Rhodies to me were considered dreadful weeds and the council who managed the lovely Bluebell wood next to our old house would regularly attack the plants which were growing rampant and smothering native woodland growth.

Now I am gardening in an area where Rhodies and Azaelea positively thrive although I am not convinced we have acid soil at Bag End, the few plants that are already here are struggling badly. Fingers crossed that they are just suffering from neglect. If I can grow Rhodies here, as long as I chose the right varieties, they will be a welcome addition to Bag End providing evergreen cover for wildlife and beautiful blooms from early May right through the summer.

We have a couple of sad little plants in flower, note to self, must give them a feed and see if it helps. Sick looking yellowy-green leaves, sure sign of chlorosis.

I've been re-reading "Gardens of the Lake District" this week and it is interesting that at Copt Howe (Langdale) where a shelter belt against the wind is absolutely vital, rhododendron have been used along with conifers to provide protection. A rare gardening book in that I sat and read it from cover to cover and then went back to the beginning and started again and am intching to visit most of the gardens during the coming years! (Usually I dip in and out of gardening books and I'm often not sure if I have read them completely.)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a dose of chelated iron might be required if my memory serves me correctly.

    Sounds like your soil might favour wonderful magnolias too - shame that the wind and frost can destroy the blooms in an instant.


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