Rhodododendrons in the new millennium have turned from an enviable rarity in our country into one of the most fashionable shrubs. The diversity of species and varieties of these oriental beauties allows to choose a plant for almost any climate, including regions with severe winters. And if a dozen or more years ago to buy a rhododendron bush and keep it was considered a success, today the choice is made not only by the criterion of winter hardiness. After all, the most luxurious of flowering shrubs can boast a strikingly rich palette of colors. And the most spectacular way to reveal it is to create a fuzzy group. This is a collection of several varieties with close shades of color flowing smoothly one into the other.
The entire palette of color in one group
What is a fuzzy group?
Rhodododendrons both large and small are always the strongest chords of color in the garden. These shrubs cannot be outshone or surpassed. Becoming the center of attention and making an impression as soloists, rhododendrons overturn the idea of the possibilities of color. And it's rhododendrons' main trump card - vibrant bursts of color - that offer a new way to reveal blurry plantings. These are groups of rhododendrons that combine varieties with different shades of the same color. Such groups are like watercolor visions, they enhance the beauty of each plant and are always seen as something special - a painting that comes alive or an idyllic picture from a magazine. Although in their nature and principles of composition, fuzzy groups are no different from ordinary rhododendron groups.
Where to place?
The fuzzy group is always placed as a front composition. It is created so that in the first half of the season in the garden nothing could overshadow the flowering of rhododendrons, it is considered the main decoration of the garden and the pride of the collection. And accordingly and place blurred rhododendron ensembles always in the most prominent places - where they can be viewed from different sides, where they immediately catch the eye. Such groups look great against a hedge, coniferous or sheared green wall, on a lawn or glade of groundcovers that prefer acidic conditions.
One of the main advantages of rhododendrons is shade-loving. They are not just the brightest flowering shrubs with large, prominent flowers in luminous, luxurious inflorescences, but also the brightest plants for designing places with diffuse light in the company of tall conifers and deciduous trees.
How to plan?
To compose a group, you first need to plan its structure. Evaluate the place where you plan to plant the color composition, calculate how many bushes will fit. The minimum number of plants is three. But if you want to get not just a group, but a really extended palette of colors, an impressive spectacle with powerful bursts of color and a game of tones, it is better to count on 5-6 bushes or more. The number of plants directly determines and variations of planting: when using up to 6 bushes, they can be placed in several rows, in a group, in a circle or asymmetrically. And when using more rhododendrons, it is better to use an orderly option, placing rhododendrons in a landscape hedge.
Which plants to complement?
Decide whether or not to complement rhododendrons with any plants is up to you. Usually in order to highlight the group it is enough to have a nice mulching of the soil or to decorate the front edge with groundcover. But if you want to complement the group and perennials, fill the voids, then focus on the usual companions for these shrubs - ferns, heathers, ericas, bulbs, junipers, dwarf pines.
No need to forget about the purely practical nuances: A group of rhododendrons will not settle in any place in the garden. Of course, you are more than free to choose your lighting: Quiet, draught-proof, semi-shady locations under tall trees or hedges are just a guide. After all, with good care, rhododendrons will settle and in the sun. They need to provide high-quality, fertile soil with an acidic reaction, and without care, the beauties will not be able to develop normally. Rhododendrons will require you to water regularly. And on especially hot days - also spraying.
Principles of selecting rhododendron varieties for fuzzy groups
For large groups of rhododendrons with a bet on color most often use the most abundant and proven species and varieties. You can also make a choice according to your own taste by simply studying catalogs and choosing colors. But the most spectacular compositions with a representative palette are obtained from rhododendrons with a particular lushness of color. Favorites for "fuzzy plantings":
- large-flowered hybrids, with a very wide palette of colors from white to pink, purple and red in a variety of variations;
- Yakushimanum hybrids (rhododendron Yakushimanum), which can be used even in small gardens because of their compact crown shape, silvery brown beautiful bark and even more varied palette from white to red and yellow, not to mention the luxurious rose-colored classics (the delicate coloring varieties are the pride of place);
- Williams rhododendrons (rhododendron williamsianum);
- not tall hybrid rhododendrons of the famous Repens (Repens) group, today referred to forrest rhododendrons (rhododendron forrestii) with brightest red color and low bushes, appreciated for their lush and dense florets;
- Hybrids of rhododendron russatum (rhododendron russatum) and other species.
Picking rhododendrons into a group by color
When selecting specific plants, color is the primary consideration. At the beginning determine the basic color - the basis of the composition, the color that from a distance will seem almost solid and recognizable at first glance. Red, pink, purple, white, orange, yellow, lilac - these are the typical options for rhododendrons. Next, the color needs to be literally "stretched" between shrubs, changing the shade by 2-3 tones in each plant. Cooler and warmer, saturated and pale, dark or light shades of the same color, watercolor varieties or two-color combinations will present the palette of color as widely as possible.
Selecting by contrasting parameters
Worth paying attention to diversity in other parameters as well. If the color scheme of the plantings will be rather harmonious, the plants should contrast otherwise. Use rhododendrons of different heights, with deciduous and wintergreen foliage, with different forms of inflorescences, different type and timing of flowering. Try original rhododendrons - such as the bell-shaped, flowering Rhodododendron Williams. Don't forget the varieties with variegated leaves, which can support the main color scheme.
4 variations in a fuzzy rhododendron group
The most typical and most popular rhododendron color still today is red. Shades of wine, fire, burgundy, scarlet, rich, catchy and bright, can capture anyone. Other than dazzling shrubs with such colors can not be called. They always look unforgettably extravagant on their own. But if you make up a group of them skilfully, stretching the colors between separate shades and watercolor varieties from scarlet to dark red and back, as if mixing together crimson reflections of sunset, you get something unforgettable from a simple and classic red spectrum. The lush hats wrapping the whole bush in a luxurious blanket and the rich red color will become the most intense color spot in any gathering. An example of the variety is the short 'Abendrot' about 70 cm tall with a shiny evergreen crown and scarlet dark color.
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Collectors' favorite variety 'Balalaika' offers admiring mottled red coloration. The flowers of this rhododendron are adorned with pink, orange, and lighter flashes, making the basic scarlet seem even more expressive. The many shades produce a wonderful "patterned" effect reminiscent of classic Russian ornaments. One more advantage of this sort is its late blossoming, which begins only in June. Red coloration is not a rarity among Yakushima hybrids. The "Fantastica" variety is particularly remarkable with the brightest red being touchingly emphasized by splashes of white in the very middle of the flower. The white streaks further enhance the beauty of the spherical inflorescences that almost completely hide the bush underneath. Also beautiful is the cherry-red Yakushiman hybrid ' Hachmann's Feuerschein'.
An original addition to varieties with basic tones would be the watercolor and unusual variety of Yakushima hybrids 'Silver Lady' (Silver Lady). This rhododendron produces very large flowers on which the scarlet turns into white as if fading. No two flowers are the same on the bush, and the silver white only emphasizes the joyfulness and richness of the red tones. The inflorescences of this hybrid are as if painted with the brush of a talented artist. The shrub blooms in the middle of May.
And so that the watercolor variety was not lonely, add to the group the charming rhododendron 'Sneezy'. Although it will need shelter in its first years of cultivation, it is still ranked among the most spectacular red-flowered varieties today. The main show begins when the flowers fully bloom and the watercolor filigree begins: the basic scarlet fades irregularly first into pink and then into a delicate whitish.
Worth looking at other varieties as well: The bright hybrid 'Nova Zembla', the large-flowered rhododendrons 'Doloroso', 'Nabucco', 'Royal Command', the royal variety 'Kazimierz Wielki', the dark red, fading into purple and fuchsia-pink hybrid 'Brocat', the dazzlingly bright 'Busuki', the dark red hybrids 'Erato' and 'Eva Luise Koehler', 'Francesca' and 'Red Impulse', etc.
Violet and purple are considered no less a classic for rhododendrons. The character of shrubs with cold saturated colors is quite different. The serene but vivid tones are luxuriant and fresh. One of the most splendid and deep purple rhododendrons, the short, but compact variety 'Moerheim'> shows the full splendor of its violet and purple tints. The delicate pink stripes against the bright background only enhance the sense of an explosion of color, and the entire bush seems covered with a bright lilac flower carpet.
The spectacular blue color of the purest tone is the chief pride of varieties derived from the rarer Rhododendron russatii species. A non-standard variation of mauve coloration is in Rhododendron 'Azurwolke'. Its flowers are gathered in lush heads of inflorescences and make small bushes with a height of only 80 cm unusually ornate. Its shades of azure, ultramarine, file, cool and rich can't be called other than acrylic.
The blue-purple color of the flowers of the rhodododendron variety 'Peter Alan' is effectively emphasized by a black-brown spot on the upper petal. Prone to fading even in light sunshine, this beauty will win over with its emerald greenery, the beauty of its stamens, and its extra-long blooming, partly taking over the summer as well. The rhododendron "Rasputin" has a similar colouring, only with a spot in the center. © rhodogroup
The stunningly rich purple coloration of rhododendron'Marcel Menard' Incarno group, able to put up with lime buds, is spectacularly emphasized by a brown-orange spot. The glossy dark leaves only enhance the attractiveness of the 1.5-2 m tall shrubs.
The wavy petals of the dark purple, mottled variety 'Azzuro' remind us of the luxurious fabrics. This rhododendron appears velvety and is especially beautiful at dusk. A dazzling neon-lilac variety with a broad crown, glaucous foliage and no less beautiful crimped petals provides an original contrast.
No shrub can compete with rhododendrons in the richness of shades of pink. From saturated to pale, watercolor and mottled colors - there is a lot to choose from.
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The classic among rose-flowered rhododendrons is the large-flowered hybrid 'Furnivall's Daughter'. The inflorescences of this delicate giant seem to be perfect spheres, and the bright center with beautiful stamens only emphasizes the beauty of the delicate cool color of the petals.
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