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  • HTA ? Rhododendron Plant of the Month for April

    Vibrant garden colour this spring with Rhododendron

    April is the month when some of the most vibrant flowering shrubs and plants come into bloom, such as the ever popular Rhododendron making it perfect for the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) Plant of the Month.

    Ancient Greek meaning ?Rose Tree? the rhododendron is evergreen and deciduous.? The family includes azaleas which are frequently used around foundations and occasionally as hedges, and many larger-leafed rhododendrons lend themselves well to more informal plantings and woodland gardens.

    Rhododendrons prefer acidic soil and sheltered conditions and grow best in areas with high rainfall, compact hybrid rhododendrons can also be planted in containers. Dwarf alpines look fantastic planted in rock gardens or pots so are ideal for the garden industry ?It Starts with a Pot? campaign.

    A big fan of this beautiful plant is professional gardener and co-presenter of ITV?s Love Your Garden, Frances Tophill, the celebrity champion for this month.

    Frances got into gardening from an early age, helping out around the garden at home and after overly ambitiously designing a terraced landscape in a planter, given to her by her mum, age 7, she was hooked.? Frances? first TV role is being part of the presenting team for ITV?s Love Your Garden.? She joined the show in its second series and travelled the country giving surprise transformations to the outdoor spaces of some very deserving people.

    She said; ?Rhododendrons have had some bad press recently with Rhododendron Ponticum being an ever increasing problem in our countryside, due to its effect on native habitats.? Despite this, there is no reason to avoid planting Rhododendron species in the garden.?

    ?On the contrary, if you chose carefully, this plant can brighten up the darkest shade, which can be the most problematic spaces in the garden? says Frances.? ?These stunning and perpetually cheerful shrubs flower in all sorts of vibrant colours during spring when we tend to think of most of the colour coming from bulbs. So why not extend the flower power of your garden from ground level to head height and beyond!?

    ?Rhododendron will survive in most acidic soils and need hardly any pruning.? Don’t be fooled into thinking that they provide spring flower and nothing more – most species we buy for the garden are evergreen so even in the depths of winter their deep, glossy leaves will provide colour. ?

    Recommended RHS AGM varieties include:

    Rhododendron Bashful

    Rhododendron Dreamland

    Rhododendron Lavender Girl

    Rhododendron Pink Pebble

    Rhododendron Scintillation

    Rhododendron Tortoiseshell Orange

    Nominated and agreed upon by British growers and retailers, the HTA?s Plant of the Month campaign highlights the plants that are widely available and looking especially good each month.

    For more details, please visit www.the-hta.org.uk/plantofthemonth

    For an image of Frances Tophill with Rhododendrons, please contact the HTA Media Office.

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