Last week, at Town and Country Nurseries in nearby Haddam I noticed a rhododendron unlike any of mine: low-growing, small leaves. But most surprising, it was in bloom. Still is. It’s mid-October, and it’s . . . still . . . in . . . bloom.
Lauren, my enabler at the garden center, was as amazed as I was. As we talked, we examined the plant more closely and discovered buds promising more pink blooms. I suppose they’ll open fully in November.
This late-bloomer is not some strange cultivar; it’s Rhododendron ‘Wilsonii’, not one I’ve grown before but certainly no stranger in the rhoddy world. Nothing I’ve read about it says anything about fall blooms; it usually blooms in spring like it’s larger cousins.
So what’s going on?
Lauren and I could only speculate that last winter’s warmth may have disrupted the bloom cycle. That seemed likely to me, as my big rhoddies did not bloom this year, and only one has buds now. The way the year is going, it might bloom in December.
This big little Wilsonii surprise makes up for the un-bloomers. And to extend the pleasure, I’m not messing with it at all: I’m leaving the yellowing leaves where they are. And I’m not going to repot it until spring. When, for all I know it might bloom again. Ahhh, climate change.
No matter how much my social conscience reminds me that plants gone haywire, blooming off-time, should not be cause for celebration, I look at these flowers, which may be the canaries of our overheated planet, and I can't help loving what I see.