The sun shone on Saturday so I set off to visit Kilmacurragh for the first time this year. As expected, the rhododendrons were magnificent and had mostly stood up to the recent frosts. Mention should be made of the very welcome cafe that is now open – the sticky toffee cake is not for the faint-hearted!
I won’t go on about the gardens, I have done that before. So I will let the photos do the talking…..
Except….. to say a word or two about the magnificent Rhododendron grande. This is a huge, rounded tree up to 9m high that needs the mild conditions of Ireland or areas in the south west of the UK. According to Bean (Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles):
‘Native of the Himalaya from Nepal eastward; described in 1847 from a specimen collected in Bhutan. In 1850 it was introduced from the Sikkim Himalaya by J. D. Hooker, who found it on Tonglo (west of Darjeeling) and Sinchul (S.E. of Darjeeling), both of which at that time lay within the domains of the Rajah of Sikkim.’ It is the exotic descriptions and unfamiliar place names that add to the mystique of these plants!
The large flowers are bell shaped with eight petal lobes and are usually creamy white with purple nectar guides in the base. There are up to thirty (though usually less) flowers in a truss which is about 18cm across. Though it does not compare in loudness with some others, it is a very noble and magnificent plant.
The photos below are of two different plants, presumably grown from seed when first introduced, showing variation in habit and flower colour. There is no scent.
And some more general views of the garden:
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