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Exbury Gardens of England

Exbury is world famous among English gardens, and is well known for the beautiful rhododendrons, camellias, and azaleas that thrive there. But there is much more to see at Exbury, one of the best-known English gardens.

Heaven with the gates open...

A visitor once described Exbury Gardens as "heaven with the gates open." It is a garden for people young and old, horticulturist or enthusiastic gardener...or just lover of beautiful places. From botanical rarities to masses of spectacular color, there is something for all to enjoy...a place to escape from the cares of the world.

The Gardens were created by Lionel de Rothschild who was a voracious collector of plants, particularly rhododendrons and azaleas. He was also a highly-successful hybridizer of many different species and Exbury is still filled with his creations. This tradition has been continued by his descendants, his sons, Edmund and Leopold, who actively continue to develop the gardens to this day.

some 1210 hybrids on the books...

Lionel had several strands in his hybridization program, but it was generally dominated by a desire to increase hardiness, better flowering, and improved color-ways. He was also keen to extend the flowering season. In the years that Lionel devoted to Exbury, he made innumerable crosses of which he kept only the best. The reject seedlings...some having taken years to grow...would be unceremoniously consigned to the bonfire as part of this rigorous selection program. Out of the survivors only what he considered the very finest were kept. His stud book records 1,210 hybrids that he considered successful. He further analyzed these and decided that 452 were worthy of being individually named and registered with the Royal Horticultural Society. The subsequent generations have continued to hybridize and new Rothschild crosses continue to grace the show benches of the Royal Horticultural Society.


Footprints and memories of Eden

Pam Tempelmayr writes for the Peace Arch News and written a memory piece many can easily relate to...your Garden of Eden...and compared to someone else’s idea of Eden. Listen to this young person evaluation.

You know, if there really are such things as ghosts...I am sure they aren't all "poor departed souls" because it wouldn't surprise me if people caught glimpses of me walking in their gardens...gardens I once grew and tended.

my first garden...

My first real garden in Lynn Valle, North Vancouver, is one such place. The yard on the east side of the two-story cedar-sided house was given to my request...when we arrived from the prairies when I was seven years old.

The freshly logged and cleared land caught light most of the day and was still rich in it was a perfect start for a life-long love affair. I toiled many long hours there feeling lucky to be so my father would have put me to work elsewhere under his scrutiny.

I planted whatever took my fancy and...with permission...made long treks down to the creek digging up and transplanting many of the native and naturalized flora. I carted rocks from everywhere...a habit I still can't break...and made a path which curved in a letter "S" from the front yard up to the chimney...around which wood violets nestled in a bed of moss...and on to the backyard.

When we moved away seven years later, I missed that garden as much as the friends I left behind.

...the house I built...and garden, too...

My next ghostly appearance is the house I was involved in building...and where I raised my children. I grew an incredibly huge vegetable/flower garden there. I formed mounds of earth into raised beds, each in a different geometrical shape. These I filled with flowers and vegetables planted to enhance the shape.

Paths wove in and amongst the beds like an intricate maze. My favorite evening's entertainment was to sit on the balcony above and gaze upon my garden below. No matter how chaotic or tragic life...this bird's eye view never failed to soothe and energize me.

...until death do us part...

Then there was my garden...which I never thought I would leave "until death do us part."

Early morning I lie here and walk through that garden...a garden which I painstakingly created by removing piles of stumps and scrap from the initial land clearing. I walk over the hobbit cedar bridge a friend made me...and over to the pond sparkling in the moonlight with hundreds of pieces of shale, crystals, and rocks...each and all of them are special moments...not just inanimate objects.

I make my way behind my fossil boulders and come to the berm of bonsai the highest point stands the Weeping cypress underneath which lay my parents' ashes. I continue through the pathways alongside the series of ponds I dug out of the cedar is the center of a moss garden, the water's edge lined with moss-covered rocks.

In spring the woodlands and the hillside lawns and gardens will shout and sing Mother Nature's return in the form of every kind of bulb you can think of. Many we imported from the tulips with flowers the size of my head.

know every nook and cranny...and some advice...


I know every nook and cranny of that acreage...every stone and mush of the flora and fauna...and could go on...and on.

My advice to anyone who has left a much-beloved garden...never go back. Nothing can make your spirit heavier than seeing your personal Eden turned into a hinterland or someone else's idea of Eden.

Be content to revel in the garden of the day...whether it is big, small, or simply a vase of flowers...but feel free to take ghost walks anytime you memory there are no weeds...just flowers.



Want a greenhouse on your plot?


Bobby Ogdon of the Vancouver South Chapter always wanted a greenhouse...especially after his exposure to the world of rhododendrons. He wrote an article for The Yak, the chapter's newsletter, which should be shared with all dreamers...and lovers of rhododendrons. After reading this, you may want to follow his steps.

form follows functions...


My first greenhouse was rather utilitarian, yet admittedly wildly successful. Starting with a surplus of scrap lumber and discarded scrounged used building materials, I fashioned a primitive shelter of some sorts to house a modicum of pots and gadgets in order to attempt propagations of rhodos. The result was a structure resembling a Rube Goldberg creation...but one which, of necessity...was to be brought in under budget. Frank Lloyd Wright's watchword was indeed applicable: "form follows function."

a workable $100 structure can be done...


I had a very limited budget. It had to be completed for less than $100. The corrugated roof panels and the heating cable for the cutting bed were actually the only purchases. Everything else was material with "pervious experience." It was not a pretty sight. Plus, it was a stand-alone structure situated thirty feet away from the back door...requiring a quick dash to keep away from the rain.

could graduate from kindergarten to exciting tasks...  

While the form was of questionable appearance…some might say it was somewhere between eccentric and served as a fully-functional greenhouse for several years. Up to 300 rooted cuttings were produced from the cutting-bed each season, and the seed box happily hummed along disgorging hundreds of long-awaited seedling. That primitive pile of building scraps enabled me to graduate from the kindergarten of propagating school to more advanced education...and to aspire to greater horticultural learning.

temperature control...

  Temperature control was a constant battle. There was no way of reducing heat on warm days...or of increasing heat when the thermometer dropped below freezing. In the late spring I "cooked" so many cuttings and seedlings that Judy thought it could serve as a second kitchen. Little did she know that behind all this was a master plan. But...first I had to prove a smattering of success before the big financial plunge. I was afraid $100 would not do it the next time.

and the search was on...


For several months I researched the possibilities of a proper greenhouse.

  • Visited libraries to peruse books and magazines...with guidelines and illustrations of greenhouses in private residences.
  • Consulted neighbors and friends who had their own horticultural hobbies.
  • Attended home and garden shows with their plethora of commercial offerings.

Then...there were so many decisions: on my property...and cost. Along with the initial costs were the interminable costs of ancillary equipment. All of these variable impacted each other. I needed help...and thankfully...I found help at B.C. Greenhouse in Burnaby.

decision made...cost $3000.  

With many full-size models on a variety of materials, shapes and sizes, the prospective buyer can make a prudent, considered purchase. Eventually I settled on a lean-to style, measuring 20’x8’. It's rounded roof styling and custom design enhanced the overall esthetics of the house. It was made of double-walled polycarbonate material so as to be more heat/cold tolerant, in contrast to the negligible insulation value of glass.

To further assist temperature control, it was designed with a door in one end and two root vents that were actuated by temperature-sensitive openers. The cost was just over $3000., FOB, which I considered reasonable. Many people spend more than that annually on their hobbies. After the initial outlay, I deemed few expense would occur in the future.

Following the detailed instructions from B.C. Greenhouse, I was able to complete construction within a week...using some of my vacation time...including foundation, polycarbonate panels, vents, floor, and even benches which I constructed from 1x3 cedar boards.

Water and electric power were extended from the house to facilitate propagation techniques, eliminating frequent trips to the kitchen when preparing cuttings. The new greenhouse was situated so that it encompassed the back door...which was used for access in inclement weather. What a joy to never have to go outside to brave the elements...and to whistle away in relative warmth while propagating seeds and cuttings.

greenhouse never large enough...


As most propagators know, our greenhouse is never too large. It becomes a warehouse of garden equipment and plant storage in the winter. greenhouse was more than adequate for nearly two decades as I pursued my hobby of propagating rhodos and azaleas. Of course, other genera fought for attention as well.

The new greenhouse was popular with the whole family. It looked like it was designed for…and complemented...the home. Judy and the kids made use of it often. It became a place of science projects for Reid...a real laboratory of learning. For Kelly, it served as the kindergarten of her propagating skills...though in a much more welcoming milieu that the aforementioned house of many colors. Judy loved it as it became...for me a haven of horticulture that meant I had my own kitchen...and thus could stay out of hers.


Rhododendron lindleyi


Rhododendron lindleyi is one of Jim Gerdemann's favorite species. And from his home in Vancouver, B.C., he writes about it.

I believe Rhododendron lindleyi is one of the most beautiful of rhododendrons. It is easy to grow and blooms from seed or cuttings when young. Although usually epiphytic in the wild, it grows well in a well-drained sandy loam soil.

some facts of interest...


R. lindleyi is in the subsection Maddenia and is native to Nepal, S.E. Tibet, and Manipur...and may grow as tall as five feet. It has large trumpet-shaped flowers that are white...often tinged with pink. The flowers have a strong, sweet-spicy fragrance.

reasons for not growing everywhere...


If it is such a great plant, why isn't it grown more often? And why is it so seldom seen in gardens? Believe there are several reasons:

  • Generally assumed to be very tender and not hardy on the central Oregon coast. Have grown it for 22 years...and only once, in 1990...were the plants severely damaged. The plants froze back nearly to the ground...but quickly recovered and bloomed the following year. Believe have never lost a plant from freezing.
  • Difficult to obtain as few nurseries carry it. Suppose the reason is lack of demand. However, it is easily rooted from cuttings or grown from seed.
  • Growth habit is different...opening growing with few branches. Attempts to make it grow into a tight-rounded plant are usually futile. It wants to produce stems from the ground with few side branches. Generally earns its pejorative descriptive words such as "straggly" or "leggy". Think a clump of upright stems with leaves and flowers at the top adds variety and interest in a garden. A garden with all of the plants having the same growth habit tends to look monotonous, especially when not in bloom.

guidelines for planting...


If your garden is in a fairly mild area, R. lindleyi is worth trying. Select a protected location. Avoid frost pockets. A slope where there is good cold air drainage...with well-drained ideal. Some overhead protection to reduce heat radiation to the sky will help prevent damage on cold nights. However, avoid full shade, as it tends to make plants less hardy. A mulch placed around the plants will help to protect the roots and lower portions of the stems from extreme cold.


The basic six


Tom and Norma Day of the Mason-Dixon Chapter write about their 25 years of gardening and the proven value of certain sayings. Let's take a look at them. You will remember them well.

  • "Cleanliness is next to Godliness". To prevent problems, remove disease-affected branches. Also, use Chorox (10% solution) liberally.
  • "You can't fly with owls at night and expect to soar with eagles in the morning." Our meetings start on time...therefore members arrive early...and eat goodies. Activities do, too.
  • "Patience is a virtue." Growing azaleas and rhododendrons takes time...and effort. As do landscaping, propagating, and hybridizing.
  • "If at first you don’t succeed...try...try again." Members are really willing to share and encourage you...and to help you solve problems. Ask! And, after numerous tries, our deciduous azalea cuttings took this year.
  • "A friend in a friend indeed." Whenever a truck or equipment is needed, or someone is ill or temporarily handicapped, members will always come through with help.
  • "Even a blind hog finds an acorn occasionally." You have never entered a show before? You may be surprised, and if you don't try, you will never get an acorn...I mean, a ribbon.

The painter who added beauty...


Claude Monet's paintings have been loved by thousands for many years. Perhaps, his statement will include the reason his landscapes have been treasured.

More than anything,
I must have flowers always, always.
- Claude Monet


American Rhododendron Society
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