Mystery Flora: Latebloomers

Every spring, the rhodies fill Seattle with bursts of riotous color. But they’re usually gone by early summer, and then they’re just great green blobs again.

I’d not realized some of them lag behind. But as I was taking a turn round the buildings in search of my car recently (which had to be parked somewhere in Timbuktu because of the pavement resealing), I encountered some latebloomers.

Mystery Flower I

I’m not sure if this is typical – it’s been a rather warm fall, but I wouldn’t expect warm enough to confuse rhodies. Is there a species out there that likes it late?

Mystery Flower II

It’s nice to see a little reminder of early summer blooming vigorously on the grounds.

Mystery Flower III

Rhodies always make me think of the tropics. I look at those bursts and think of swaying palms and leis and fruity cocktails with flowers stuck in sipped on a balmy beach.

Mystery Flower IV

And I always think of fall as a dying season, but here we have new life budding out. Nice, that.

These weren’t the only ones. I found another sort of rhodie blooming away on a ramble a few days later.

Mystery Flower V

These are more slender, a little dainty, but still rhodies, I believe. I’ve learnt there are endless types of rhodies, some that don’t even look much like rhodies.

Mystery Flower VI

These two species seem to have freckles in common. I love that little splash of spots on a rhodie’s petals.

Mystery Flower VII

Rhodies are quite fun to photograph – especially with a good macro mode. I’m glad I got to play with them one last time.

Mystery Flower VIII

And when you have sunlight and a freshly-blackened parking lot to use as a canvas…

Mystery Flower IX

Well, sometimes you’ve just gotta twist yourself into a pretzel in order to get a certain shot. The rhodies deserve it. Especially those kind enough to give us that last burst of beauty before the cold and the storm and the rain.

Mystery Flora: Latebloomers
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8 thoughts on “Mystery Flora: Latebloomers

  1. 1

    There are some cultivars of rhododendron that have been selected for ability to re-bloom throughout summer and into early fall.

    If you pick the right varieties, you can have them blooming 12 months of the year in some climates.

  2. rq

    Major thumbs up on that last picture. The angle of the sun also gives it that warm, golden tone that I associate with autumn. Very nice!
    Hope you are well!

  3. 4

    Like Tsu Dho Nimh says, I think this is a re-bloom rather than a late bloom, inspired by our very unusual extended summer. I have to wonder, though, if this will impair the plant’s ability to bloom in the spring. Rhodies normally grow their buds in the summer, shortly after blooming and carry them until spring. Now that we’re having longer cooler nights, it may not be able to do that again.

    Beautiful pictures, by the way! I think the “freckles” are pretty characteristic of rhodies.

  4. rq

    I don’t think it will have much of an effect on next year. Lots of plants here re-bloom regularly (it seems that any summer with any length of sun-and-heat inspires them), and they bloom just fine the following year. I think it’s a matter of taking advantage of favourable circumstances.
    This summer has seen re-blooms and bumper crops in several species because of the unusally cloudless season; we’ll see how that reflects on next year, but I don’t think it will . (The almanacs say we’re due for a harsh winter, if there is too much of this, but I don’t know how accurate they are in these days of global warming…)
    And Dana can keep an eye on these rhodies for us. :)

  5. 6

    @rq: The reason I’m wondering about next year is that rhodies, unlike most flowers, set next year’s flower buds shortly after blooming. Usually that’s during the summer. If you prune them in the fall, you’ll get very few blooms because you’ve cut them off.

  6. rq

    That IS interesting, and I didn’t know… But you’d think, if it’s mild enough, they’ll manage to push out a third set of buds…?
    Alternatively, it might be like those tulips that poke through at the first thaw and die in the next big frost/snow…
    But I don’t know if it will be all that bad, plants take their cues from the length of the day, not just the ambient temperature…

    In other words, I am now hoping for the best, instead of having my previous blase attitude. :)

  7. 8

    Rhodes , have a cousin in tropical and not so tropical places called Vireyas! Some are in gardens in the PNW. They look like Rhodes but bloom much of the year. I live in the Puna district on the big island of Hawaii. Do a google search for these as I don’t have a web site. You will be surprised. If you contact me directly ill send you pictures from my yard. And maybe a rock of two might be sent if you send me a PO address. I enjoy your blog as I used to live in Olympia.

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