Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Monday, April 28, 2008

Greening Up - With Rhododendron

Spring continues a fitful progression here in northern Illinois this year. Sure, it's supposed to snow tonight (a bit) but things continue greening and blooming.

I spent part of the weekend out at the Fen. Partly I was scattering the majority of this year's remaining seeds. Nearly everything is now out, and we can go on to the next task- the beginning of the year's weed control. I also transplanted a few plugs of wetland sedge into a degraded seep. We tried a bit of this last year. It worked so well, that I'm expanding efforts this year. Speaking of which, the sedges in the wetland areas that were burned a few weeks back are charging out of the ground with amazing speed. This photo is a real testament to how quickly the vegetation springs back in areas that have been burned.

My yard is beginning to signs of spring, too. The first of my lettuce has germinated. My rhododendron is in full bloom right now. Rhodies are one of the things that I miss the most about Massachusetts. Where I grew up, we grew lots of them and azaleas in a wide range of colors. Blooming times extended from earliest spring into mid-summer. They just don't do well here in Illinois. There are a few varieties, like the one in my yard, that thrive. The rest just putter along, don't bloom well, and seem very short lived.

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At 16:30, Blogger Rosebay said...

There is a Midwest Chapter of the Rhododendron Society.

Here is a pictorial tour of Rhododendrons that do well in southern New Hampshire.


Click next for the next image.
Click index for a list of the plants.

At 18:53, Blogger Lemuel said...

I love Rhododendrons. They do ok here in PA in the right soil.

At 18:58, Blogger Floridacracker said...

It's already too hot for lettuce here.

At 19:57, Blogger Dave Coulter said...

Rhodies are a labor of love here in Illinois. The fen looks awesome.

At 22:10, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Rosebay- Welcome to the Tapestry. Thanks for the tip.

Lem- My post stressed the climate, but the soil is also a problem here. We have alkaline soils- not rhody-friendly.

FC- Ironically, there is some chance that my seedlings will freeze to death tonight and I'll have to start over.

Dave- That's the problem. I'm used to sticking them in the ground and then ignoring them. Thanks on the Fen. There's a walk at 11 Saturday morning if you want to come by.

At 15:09, Blogger rodger said...

Beautiful Rhodie!

In Oregon, they are far too common. I think there are more Rhododendrons in than dandelions and I'm not joking. Probably because here you can just stick them in the ground and forget about them.

At 17:35, Anonymous Mark H said...

You reminded me how late this spring got started. I JUST planted lettuce seeds in pots last weekend. I guess I'll go buy some starts .... a summer love is eating salads out of the garden, eh?

At 19:14, Blogger Dave Coulter said...

doug - Cool. The COS is also doing a field trip at Montrose Harbor that day...

At 23:45, Blogger Ur-spo said...

that is lovely and does look like 'spring' to me.
i miss spring in the midwest - all two weeks of it.

At 16:42, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Rodger- In Massachusetts you can just stick them in the ground and forget about them, too. I wish it were so here.

Mark- Yeah, spring has been really late here, too. I totally agree about the joys of summer salad.

Dave- Montrose just had better marketing than we do. Whoever thought up the name Magic Hedge is a PR genius. I'll probably be leading the tour if you decide to stop by Bluff Spring.

Spo- Spoken like a true Midwesterner who well knows the reality of a two week spring.

At 19:42, Blogger BentonQuest said...

Beautiful rhododendrons. And I so miss spring in N. Ill. I miss the wilderness areas.

At 20:19, Blogger cedrorum said...

What are your methods of weed control at the fen?

At 05:50, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Doug,

Beautiful Rhodies. Ours are not yet out over here.
Interesting what you mentioned about burning and recovery. This is an exercise they conduct over here on the Grouse Moors with heather.
Oh, and try and keep the blood pressure down.!

At 04:59, Blogger Kathiesbirds said...

The fen looks inviting and I love the rhodedendron!


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