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Proceedings of the International Plant Propagator's Society

Vol. 52

The Role of Rhododendrons in Cornish Gardens

Rachel Martin

pp: 259-262


For gardeners and horticulturists the words "Cornish Garden" conjure up images of places lush, green, moist, mossy, shady, mature, and dramatic. They are extraordinary collections of exotic plants flourishing in the midst of a rich native flora. The fundamental achievement of this type of West Country garden is that the planting mix is often now accepted as being natural and the intervention of the gardener is barely appreciated. But Gertrude Jekyll was always quick to point out, regarding her successful naturalistic plantings, that "they are more hap than hazard".

The most prominent, ubiquitous, and striking plant in this "natural exotic mix" has to be Rhododendron. The flowering of mature specimens is expected in a spring garden and the size and splendour of many has earned them the name "lilies of the sky". In fact, so used are we to the idea of the Cornish Garden with its integral rhododendrons that it is hard to imagine that up until the latter half of the nineteenth century

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