Rhododendron Species Foundation & Botanical Garden

There’s a reason the Coast Rhododendron is Washington’s state flower.  Almost all kinds of Rhododendrons, not just native species, thrive in Puget Sound’s temperate weather and there’s an amazing variety of Rhodies, something easily confirmed merely by driving around a Seattle/Tacoma neighborhood in Spring.

If you need more scientific confirmation, all you need to do is visit the Rhododendron Species Foundation & Botanical Garden in Federal Way, as we did on Mother’s Day weekend with Dawn, where they boast of having over 700 varieties of Rhododendrons. 

I spend a lot of time in different Rhododendron gardens, but I’m always amazed by the some of the species I see there, ones I can’t remember ever seeing before, like this red one.

Although the pinks and purples in this one are quite common, the bell-like shape certainly isn’t.

Yellow is an uncommon color for Rhodies, but this shape is even more unusual.

However, the rarest Rhodies are found in the hothouse, like this delicate Rhododendron Konori from New Guinea

and this striking Asian variety.

I’ll have to admit when I think of Rhododendrons I still picture the leggy plants with pinkish-white flowers desperately stretching for light in Cascade Mountain forests, not the lush, tropical plants found in specimen gardens, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be awed when I encounter very different species in a different environment.  

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