Friday, April 1, 2011

Rhododendron Time

As a native of the Pacific Northwest, rain aside, one predictable spring-time tradition is the return of fragrant, full-blossomed rhododendrons. Many years ago my father introduced a beautiful new world to me: the world of flowers, most especially rhododendrons and roses. But today the subject is rhodies, as Dad called them.

As a long time resident of Portland, Oregon, the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden was just a few miles drive. We visited as often as possible. One of the busiest times is Mother's Day weekend, which heralds the kick-off of weeks of blooming rhodies, azaleas and spring flowers of many varieties. Of course, the garden is opened all year long, even in the wet and dreary winter months. But the immaculately kept flower beds, year-round shrubs and trees, lively ducks, graceful cranes, and nervous squirrels, all of nature's best, beckoned us to Crystal Springs month after month.

Sadly, now we live four hours away and our desert-like climate isn't friendly to the raising of rhodies and azaleas; but this May we'll return to Portland for a weekend and visit the rhododendron gardens again. Strolling alongside the lake and through the garden’s winding paths, I will think of my late father. Especially as I lean into fragrant blossoms to inhale their springtime perfume and appreciate their perfectly shaped blooms that range from whitest-white to the deepest scarlet. Join me in a few weeks and celebrate spring wherever you are; it's just around the corner.

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