Time Lapse 1

Rhododendron 'Kristin'

A pair of House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) snack on safflower seed at the BirdCam station.  But this is not the only interesting activity in the photo.  In the background is Rhododendron 'Kristin' just beginning to open.  If things work out, I will post additional photos as the flower trusses continue to develop.

'Kristin' is a hybrid of R. yakushimanum.  These are hardy and beautiful rhodies that come from Yakushima Island in the Japanese archipelago.  The island is a World Heritage Site with a number of features in common with Washington's Olympic Peninsula:
  • Both sites have an indigenous Rhododendron species
  • Both have a unique species of deer (Roosevelt Elk, Sika Deer)
  • Each experiences high rainfall producing temperate rain forests
  • Both sites are mountainous and contain national parks
  • Both feature gigantic, ancient conifers

Yakushimanum species and hybrid rhodies are beautiful and easy to grow.  They are moderate in size, perfect for the smaller scale garden.  The species flower opens a deep pink and gradually becomes almost pure white as it develops.  Hybrids come in all shades of pink.  An identifying characteristic of the yaks is a velvet indumentum on the underside of the leaves.  It may be brown or silver colored.  To find varieties in nurseries look for "Yak" or "Yaku" in the name or try and spot the velvet underside of the leaves.