Among Heligan’s most treasured collections are the vintage Rhododendrons and Camellias, nationally acknowledged by Plant Heritage. As Heligan, you will discover possibly the most impressive ancient Rhododendron gardens Cornwall has to offer. Wandering along the secluded pathways towards Flora’s Green, you are soon overshadowed by the Rhododendron canopy. Peer into the gloom and observe extraordinary the tangle of bronze coloured trunks. These underpin some of the largest Rhododendrons grown in the UK, many reaching circa 60 feet high.
These magnificent evergreen specimens are at their finest during April and May, when clouds of crimson and magenta flourish and fade in undulating waves around the lawned garden known as Flora’s Green. It is a beautiful sight…
These spectacular Rhododendrons are all pre-1920’s shrubs, many are the progeny of original seed collections brought back to England by Sir Joseph Hooker, from Sikkim and Darjeeling in the 1850’s. In the wild, Rhododendron colours occur naturally at different altitudes and with differing levels of hardiness. White Rhododendrons and the very palest hues are found at the highest altitude. The pinks, magentas and crimson’s from further down at medium levels. With the deepest reds (the most prized in England at that time) only found at the lower altitudes which meant they were far more tender to grow. Examples of all these breathtaking colours are in abundance at Heligan.
Since their introduction to the UK, plantsmen and nurserymen began the process of crossing the various varieties to produce hardier hybrids that were frost resistant. This has led to the enormous variety of glorious hybrid Rhododendrons now available to grow throughout the UK, where soil type and conditions permit.
The Rhododendrons at Heligan can be located in the Jungle Garden, Flora’s Green, the entrance to Heligan House (this is one of the deep red varieties known as Rhododendron Heligan) and don’t miss the splendid Rhododendron Falconeri, growing next to the Head Gardener’s offices.
It is an uplifting sight to view these incredible specimens still surviving at Heligan, in the knowledge that these are the direct descendants of the very first introduction of the species to the UK.
We recommend visiting Heligan in Cornwall, during late April/early May for the best show of blooms. If you are interested in growing Rhododendrons in your own garden, Paramount Plants & Gardens has a large and varied selection of these stunning shrubs with many colour options available. Some Rhododendron hybrids have been especially produced to remain relatively small, there are also many hardy varieties, we have something suitable for most size of garden.
Talk to our expert team, for help in deciding which Rhododendron is the best choice for your outdoor space.