rhododendron in June
Pairing rhododendrons with other June bloomers whose flowers are more delicate, like the cow parsley and blue columbine used here, helps to integrate the mass of the rhododendron with the surrounding border. All three thrive on the north side of the house. The columbine and cow parsley don’t mind the heavy clay soil, which has been continuously amended with compost and mulch around the rhododendron, which requires drainage for its shallow roots. The cow parsley can easily get out of hand — it is a prolific self-sower and seedlings grow quickly, so a ruthless ripping out session as the bloom fades is necessary, otherwise the increasingly floppy foliage will smother its neighbours before dying down of its own accord during the heat of summer. In fall the fresh foliage is again welcome as the garden slows down, the purple-leaved cultivar being particularly useful. Both of these companions have found their way to the rhododendron of their own accord and this adds to the delight of the vignette.