The Rhododendron collection at the Arnold Arboretum was by far one of the most beautiful subjects I had the pleasure of photographing this year. These are some photographs from the Rhododendron Ramble photography workshop I ran at the Arboretum.
"Rhododendron Dell is a contemplative landscape showcasing the Arboretum’s core collection of hybrid and evergreen rhododendrons. An overstory of hemlock, birch, oak, maple, and pine provide ideal rhododendron habitat. In the early 1900s, Ernest Henry Wilson evaluated many of the rhododendrons in the collection and in 1917 published a list of “ironclads”—a group of hybrid rhododendrons that had proved hardy and floriferous at the Arnold Arboretum. Bred in the United Kingdom, these ironclads became the focus of regional plant introduction and breeding endeavors in New England. Many of the original ironclads, acquired in 1886 from the Woking Nursery in England, are the largest plants in the collection.
Today, rhododendron collections in Rhododendron Dell include 280 plants representing 132 taxa (kinds). Of these, 103 are cultivars which have been selected for horticultural merits including flower color and fragrance, truss (domed flower mass) size, leaf morphology, and hardiness.
Extensive renovations in Rhododendron Dell were accomplished in 1990 with funds received from the Linda J. Davison Memorial Trust. Notable features include: a path through the collection, a bridge spanning Bussey Brook, engraved stone destination signs, and a hen’s tooth puddingstone wall designed by landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy. Bank erosion along Bussey Brook was also temporarily mitigated by adding stone and logs to the channel. Over subsequent years, and to the present day, new rhododendrons have been added to the collection for research and ornamental display. The most recent additions to the collection include wild sourced Rhododendron maximum (rosebay rhododendron) and R. catawbiense (Catawba rosebay), both native to North America."