I hate Rhododendrons. their overtly grannified blooms, large, blousy, tacky coloured awful things, ruining Spring with their overtly attention seeking tendencies. This year though, I was won over. I entered the strange world of Rhododendron appreciation, in the form of Rhododendron luteum.
This is a species Rhododendron, being native originally to Southeastern Europe right the way to the fringes of Asia. The flowers aren’t as big and ridiculous as a lot of the Rhododendron cultivars and it has a much more natural, slightly scraggy appearance, with quite slender twiggy branches. The flowers are a very pleasing shade of yellow/gold and exude an exquisite scent, akin to Lily Of The Valley with more of a honey grounding. These flowers also last well in arrangements, provided you slice the woody stem to allow maximum cell exposure to water.
Although wonderfully scented, don’t be tempted to eat the nectar (or that of other Rhododendron species). I don’t personally make a habit of becoming overwhelmed by that particular urge, but if you are, don’t suck this nectar, it will fuck you up! Grayotoxin poisoning can occur to those who consume Rhododendron matter, it will make you vomit, shit yourself, almost suffocate and sometimes, if you ate an entire small shrub, you die….You can tell my science writing skills are considerable.
Anyway, this small shrub, which arguably is an Azalea (small Rhododendron), is a great addition to any garden for that classical Spring interest, flowering April/May-time and lighting up those darker corners with a splash of classy yellow. Rhododendron luteum can cope with semi shade and is naturally inclined to grow in damper soils. Happy Days!