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Rhododendron sale and garden tour coming up in Cowichan

May is the peak rhododendron month

The Cowichan Valley Rhododendron Society is celebrating their favourite plant this month with a sale on May 11 and a garden tour on May 18.

“Spring is truly here and flowers and new growth are exploding around us,” said the society in a news release. “The urge to plant something, anything, is rather overwhelming right now, and there is a host of choices in garden centres and local plant sales.

“May is the peak rhododendron month and is a great time to choose a plant as you can see what they really look like in their moment of glory. The rhododendron is not as picky or difficult as its exotic appearance would have you believe. There are many plants from 50-100 years old and still putting on a great display of flowers every year, so it has longevity on its side.”

Rhododendrons form a compact and shallow root ball with many fine roots making them good neighbours, as they don’t interfere much with surrounding plants, the society said in a press release.

But it does mean their root system should be sheltered against hot sun, or excessive drying out, the society cautioned.

“In their native habitat any leaves they shed form a protective layer around the base of the plant. As we tend to tidy all that away in our garden clean ups, spring is a good time to add a layer of mulch, and not just to rhododendrons. A mulch is generally applied in spring or autumn and provides protection to roots and soil alike. Many different materials can be used but well rotted organic matter such as the previous season’s composted leaves, is probably the best. As the material further decomposes it is pulled into the soil by various denizens and creatures of the earth and improves the structure and health of the soil.”

Mulch should only be applied when the soil has warmed up and is moist, the society advised. If it is cool to begin with it can slow plant growth.

Mulch is also a good way to cut down on the amount of water a plant needs, as it keeps things moist, but shouldn’t be piled up against stems or trunks so there’s still good air flow.

“Rhodos generally have few problems, are not on the deer’s favourites list, and with the right choices have foliage that is attractive in its own right, all year round,” the society said. “Many species are now threatened in their native habitat, and have been preserved by private gardeners growing them in their gardens. With the right companion plants it can make for a fairly low maintenance landscape, and a beautiful garden.”

The plant sale runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. John’s Anglican Parish Hall. The Rhododendron Garden Tour will include five private gardens and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $20.

For more information see

Andrea Rondeau

About the Author: Andrea Rondeau

I returned to B.C. and found myself at the Cowichan Valley Citizen.
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