Heritage Museums and Gardens Rhododendrons Festival
Up in Cape Cod, the rhododendrons are in full bloom at the annual Heritage Museums & Gardens Rhododendrons Festival. Home to two noted hybridizers—Charles Owen Dexter and Jack Cowles—the garden is a great place to see the many new varieties in bloom. A new and dramatic water element—the Flume Fountain—and a new children's garden are also worth visiting for their unusual landcaping.
I recently had a chance to attend the Heritage Museums and Gardens Rhododendron Festival in Sandwich, Massachusetts, which is having its annual rhododendron festival through May 30, this Monday.
Our photo tour shows the garden's flowers in full bloom as well as photos of the many new landscaping features being debuted in the 2011 season at the Heritgae Museums and Gardens.
If you're interested in visiting, the Heritage Museums and Gardens site has more details, and be sure to read our feature about great rhododendron gardens around the world and our article about the history of growing and hybridizing rhododendrons.
A view of Steve Stimson's Flume Fountain, which just opened last year. Stimson, a landscape architect, designed the fountain as a nod to the water flumes that brought water to the many mills in the Cape Cod area and it also serves as a modern water element in the garden.
The flume fountain has a 220-foot flume with the water cascading 24 feet into a reflecting pool before being cycled back up to the top of the flume. The pool is surrounded by the daylily garden, though the garden's rhododendrons are, of course, in bloom here as well.
Senior horticulturalist Jeanie Gillis gave me a tour around the gardens and she mentioned that she recommends that people aggressively prune their rhododendron shrubs. At the gardens, however, the horiculturalists don't always have time to get to all of their shrubs, and so they grow in wild and dramatic profusion.
Some of the rhododendrons are pruned to show off their sculptural trunks or to give an arched or cascading effect.
As shown in the previous photo, the gardens planted a swath of lily-of-the-valley plants underneath some of the cascading rhododendrons, which bloom at the same time, creating a nice pairing of the underplanting and the rhododendron blooms above.
The garden has a number of smaller Carolina rhododendrons that line walkways in large, sculptural masses.
The garden pathway leads down to the Hidden Hollow education area, which opened last year. Designed by landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy, the hollow transformed an unused part of the park into a series of educational "classrooms" for children and their families to visit. It is, of course, surrounded by blooming rhododendrons.
Mountain silverbell is also in bloom this time of year, with their bell-shaped blossoms floating over the grounds. The bells, mixed with the pink and purple hues of the rhododendron blossoms, gives the garden the look of a pointillist painting, in gradual shades of pink and purple that rise and fall along the garden's hills.