Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Small rhododendron

with 25 comments

At Garden in the Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts, on June 12th, I saw budding and flowering specimens of the shrub known scientifically as Rhododendron minus and in common English as small rhododendron.

All parts of the plant are poisonous, so if you encounter it in person, look but don’t taste.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 26, 2018 at 4:44 AM

25 Responses

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  1. I am content to look. It’s beautiful.


    July 26, 2018 at 9:35 AM

  2. Beautiful flower!


    July 26, 2018 at 3:02 PM

    • I later found some rhododendrons in Pennsylvania but they weren’t flowering like the ones in Massachusetts.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2018 at 3:12 PM

  3. Beautiful, Steve. I was in the garden years ago, 1975 maybe, and it was lovely then. We had a personal tour by one of the docents who was a friend’s friend and it was fascinating to hear the stories behind the design. They were way ahead of the curve in a natural design approach.


    July 26, 2018 at 3:29 PM

    • I think you’re the first person who’s commented on any of the posts from the Garden in the Woods who’s been there. I heard a little about the history and design of the place during my visit. Perhaps you’ll get to renew your acquaintance with the gardens after 40+ years.

      What brought me there was a commission from an elderly friend who died in November and wanted her ashes spread among ferns and orchids.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2018 at 3:39 PM

  4. For some reason I have never been a fan of rhodies, but they grow so well down here in Cornwall. Big ones too, not these small ones. I prefer azaleas, but even then they are not something I’d plant in my own garden. On the subject of scattering ashes, did you have to seek permission to do this?


    July 26, 2018 at 4:37 PM

    • Not being a gardener like so many of you, all I knew of rhododendrons is that the nursery trade distributes various cultivated Asian species. I just now noticed in Wikipedia that “Azaleas make up two subgenera of Rhododendron. They are distinguished from ‘true’ rhododendrons by having only five anthers per flower.” Some years ago I learned that east Texas has some gorgeous native azaleas.

      As for the scattering of ashes, my friend had left some money in her will to the New England Wild Flower Society, which operates the Garden in the Woods. The executrix for her estate had made contact with the relevant person there, so all I had to do when I was ready to disperse the ashes was e-mail to arrange a convenient time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2018 at 5:10 PM

      • That sounds so organised and what a lovely place to be scattered in. Garden in the Woods.


        July 26, 2018 at 5:13 PM

        • I learned from the director of philanthropy, who went around the grounds with us, that other people had also chosen to have their ashes scattered there.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 26, 2018 at 5:18 PM

          • I wonder what effect that has on the plants? A good one I imagine.


            July 27, 2018 at 4:34 AM

            • That’s what I assumed. Your comment prompted me to search, and I found this article to the contrary:


              Steve Schwartzman

              July 27, 2018 at 5:49 AM

              • Not sure I fancy the concrete idea! I think I shall stick to ‘chuck me in the India Ocean’ then I can float between Australia and South Africa. Two of my favourite places. On the other hand I suspect that ashes are from several cremations, given the number that take place on any given day they are not going to sweep out after each one. Or am I being particularly cynical here?


                July 28, 2018 at 6:21 PM

                • I was under the impression that cremation ashes have to be individually gathered each time, precisely to avoid commingling remains. Whether owners of cremation establishments ever cheat, I don’t know; you may be justified in having at least some cynicism.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  July 28, 2018 at 9:18 PM

      • Thank you for the link; I did not know there were azaleas native to Texas. The Hoary Azalea (Rhododendron canescens) in your photograph is, as you said, gorgeous. As is your photograph of the Clematis drummondii. Both are plants I have never met, and am *very* glad now to have seen in your portraits. Belated congratulations for those many prizes!

        Grateful Reader

        July 27, 2018 at 11:50 AM

        • Thanks. My botanical knowledge is the reverse of most people’s. I got interested in native plants almost 20 years ago, never having been a gardener before or since. Sometimes a native species has a relative among common cultivated plants, which I may then make a connection to. For example, I got very familiar with the Clematis drummondii you mentioned, which is quite common here, and only later became aware that many gardeners plant other species of Clematis. While out driving a little while ago I noticed how the Clematis drummondii has gotten well into its “beard” stage, so some photographs may be in order.

          Steve Schwartzman

          July 27, 2018 at 12:13 PM

  5. We never grew this one, but I remember it from members of the Rhododendron Society. It had been used for breeding.


    July 26, 2018 at 11:38 PM

    • Seems like there’s a society for everything. Once upon a time it was said of some people that they had good breeding.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 27, 2018 at 5:45 AM

  6. The contrast between the buds and the blooms in the first photo’s delightful, and who doesn’t like finding an insect roaming a flower, as in the second?

    But my favorite is the third. Those patches of yellow dots attracted my attention, so they might be designed to attract the pollinators. I read recently that lines inside the blooms of flowers like the various Penstemon species act to guide pollinators to the nectar and pollen; I suspect these patches might do the same. They remind me of the inside of prairie agalinis flowers: beauty and utility in one lovely little bundle.


    July 28, 2018 at 5:12 PM

    • I’ve also read that the guidelines on flowers aren’t always visible to us the way they are to would-be pollinators that can see the patterns in ultraviolet or infrared.

      I’m reminded, like you, of the spots in prairie agalinis, which I’m familiar with—unlike rhododendron, which I’m not. I was correct in assuming you’d notice and even comment on the insect in the middle photograph.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 28, 2018 at 8:58 PM

  7. Absolutely beautiful .. love the last, and not to be eaten!


    July 30, 2018 at 3:06 PM

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