This is the Pacific Northwest. As we drive through neighborhoods, parking lots, and walk through forest trails and parks we see Rhododendrons. Actually, we kind of get tired of seeing Rhododendrons for sale everywhere, and planted everywhere. Even in the design community we tend to avoid using them whenever possible. Like anything that is overdone we try to look for something new and different.

Secretly though, I have several favorites in my Garden. One of my favorite people is Robert Zimmerman from Chimicum Gardens. He is an amazing Rhododendron grower. Most of his plants are species, personally collected in the wild by him. He has educated me and tempted me to add to my collection and plant really amazing rhododendrons in my client’s gardens.

rober zimmerman rhodies

This one comes from Robert Zimmerman. Although a zone 8 plant and only hardy to 15 degrees it is happy here in my new garden beds. The structure is great, and the fragrance captivates from over 10 feet away. The lovely clear blossoms almost transparent with a lovely pinkish blush while in bud.

rober zimmerman rhodies

Rhododendron ‘Fragrantissimum’

Regarded as one of the most fragrant Rhododendrons. It is a medium-sized evergreen shrub. Blooming heavily in mid spring, its large, trumpet-shaped frilly white flowers, up to 2.5 inches wide have a bright yellow throat and are delicately blushed with pink on the outside.

Held in small loose trusses the blooms are really stunning with hairy dark green leaves with impressed veins. The main attraction is really it honeysuckle fragrance. Although it is more tender than many other Rhododendrons it is hardy to 15F and has been great in my garden. It is under high shade and near the upper pond so it may have a little more shelter there.

Grows 3 – 5 ft tall and wide.

Grows in part shade in moist, acidic, hummus-y well-drained soils.


Rhododendron ‘Ebony Pearl’ is a hybrid grown by Briggs Nursery. It has copper new leaves and dark foliage. It has put on good growth since being here and this year the blooms are amazing. It moved from underneath a cedar tree where it struggled to survive to a moist shaded bed with good soil and good drainage.

Grows to 6’   hardy to -5F.

Grows in part shade in moist, acidic, hummus-y soils.

solar flare

Lovely warm yellow orange is beautiful in the spring. The Exbury Azalea ‘Golden Flare’ has a reddish-orange blotch and has a soft fragrance. It is deciduous so the fall color is a added bonus.

Grows to 6’ and is hardy to zone 5

Grows in sun to part sun with adequate water.

These are my secret Rhododendron passions. I have several more that aren’t blooming just now but have a special place in my garden.