Rhododendron by the Stair

Rhododendron -- Photo: Dorothy McDonall

In the garden,
By the stair
A Rhododendron.
Tarries there.

In pale shades
It bursts in bloom;
Adds lustre to
My garden room.

And offers critters
Sweet relief
From hot and humid
Late Spring grief.

Its beauty soft;
Expression grand;
The glorious craft
Of Omnipotent Hand.

And glad I am
To have planted it there,
My Rhododendron
By the stair.


A few years ago I did indeed plant a Rhododendron in the garden by the stair. We have a raised botanical garden with two tall Jack Pines at either end, a Sunburst Locust in the middle and in between a variety of flowers and shrubs which, at this time of year, blooms the garden its most beautiful.

Creeping Phlox in pink and purple hues, bright yellow Baskets of Gold, and delicate white Sweet Woodruff are among the perennial flowers at home here, accented by a generously creeping vine that trails aimlessly (and often invasively) over the edge of the raised garden wall.

The Rhododendron is quite sensitive. In the seven or so years since it was planted, it has bloomed only three times, including this season. The previous blooming periods were very short — hot, humid weather its undoing. Interestingly in each of the ensuing seasons flowers did not bloom as if to protest its previous flower-unfriendly conditions.

So, this year with the weather being more agreeable, I’m really pleased to see the Rhodo is back with a vengence and as beautiful as I remember — only, perhaps, more so because I haven’t seen it for a while.