Planting the wrong color or the wrong shade of a color in the garden can sometimes be a serious matter. If gardeners or their clients have fixed ideas of how they want their gardens to look, choosing the right plant becomes critical. Here is an example of a challenge I sometimes face.
My clients all ask for vivid pink Rhododendrons or Azaleas, as long as they are not pink-lavender or orchid-pink in color. Before breeders introduced new cultivars that could survive here in zone 5a, only lavender-colored Azaleas and rhododendrons were available to us. Each spring, some neighborhoods would be covered in seas of lavender. Consequently, my clients, who wished to distinguish themselves from their neighbors, insisted that I plant any other color but that one.
Here is a photo of Rhododendron Olga Mezitt. Unlike the picture, the flower is lavender-free when grown in the garden. It glows like a giant luminous pink neon bulb. I try to plant it as often as I can in combination with Azalea Mandarin Lights [orange] and Azalea Lemon Lights [yellow]. These three non-lavender flowering shrubs combined on one lawn, create an explosion of multicolor that effortlessly erases the drab grey of early spring. It’s like the overture to a Broadway musical!
If you live in a climate that has been growing many richly colored rhododendrons ever since you can remember, try to imagine what it might be like to live where only one color rhododendron exists. Spring gardening used to be very boring here in zone 5a. I’ve made it my goal to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.