Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Rhodo Rainbow

Rhododendrons are abundant this time of year and as the title of my post suggests they come in a multitude of colours. It seemed like a good opportunity to experiment with some picture mosaics too.

"Rhododendron (from Ancient Greek ῥόδον rhódon "rose" and δένδρον déndron "tree") is a genus of over 1 000 species of woody plants in the heath family, either evergreen or deciduous." 
"Rhododendron is a genus characterized by shrubs and small to (rarely) large trees, the smallest species growing to 10–100 centimetres (3.9–39 in) tall, and the largest, R. giganteum, reported to over 30 metres (98 ft) tall.[4] The leaves are spirally arranged; leaf size can range from 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) to over 50 cm (20 in), exceptionally 100 cm (39 in) in R. sinogrande. They may be either evergreen or deciduous. In some species the underside of the leaves is covered with scales (lepidote) or hairs (indumentum). Some of the best  known species are noted for their many clusters of large flowers." (Wikipedia)

I saw a mask in the rhododendron below:

I noticed that some of the rhododendrons had five petals and some six, some had brightly coloured contrasting spots, others lightly coloured spots and still others do not appear to have this feature at all. 

Five petals

Five petals

Six petals

Beautiful brightly spotted throat

"The rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal."
"In Joyce's Ulysses, rhododendrons play an important role in Leopold and Molly's early courtship: Molly remembers them in her soliloquy - 
"the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me". 
Jasper Fforde a British author, also uses rhododendron as a motif throughout many of his published books." (Wikipedia)

"Species of the genus Rhododendron occur throughout most areas of the Northern Hemisphere and into the Southern Hemisphere in southeastern Asia and northern Australasia. No species are native to South America and Africa."
"The highest species diversity is found in the Himalayas from Uttarakhand, Nepal and Sikkim to Yunnan and Sichuan, with other significant areas of diversity in the mountains of Indo-China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan."
"Tropical rhododendron species range from southeast Asia to northern Australia, with 55 known species in Borneo and 164 in New Guinea. Interestingly, the species in New Guinea are native to sub-alpine moist grasslands at around 3000 metres in the Central Highlands.Relatively fewer species occur in North America and Europe."
There are rhododendrons in gardens, parks, botanical gardens and even some growing in uncultivated areas here in Vancouver and the surrounding area. My pictures are from gardens and parks that are in my orbit. I also visited the Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden in Stanley Park(described on this site):

Did you know that Rhododendrons are thermotropic? First of all thermotropic means they respond to variations in temperature. I noticed this a few years ago and now use the rhododendron outside my front window of an indication of how cold it is, yes I use it as a living thermometer; as the temperature drops the leaves first droop (about 40F/4C) and then curl up when the temperature drops below freezing. Why do they do this you might ask?  Well to prevent or minimize moisture loss (I believe the pores are under the leaves and curling inward closes them).  

There were peachy coloured blooms but I did not see any orange blooms or deep purple ones, but I'll keep looking. In fact I did find orange, bright yellow and deep purple ones:

I thought I would try out something else new too, I made a "rhodo quilt".

Here is a watercolour that I finished recently, it is called "Taking the path less travelled" and is inspired by a view in Italy:

I am away travelling for a few weeks but through the magic of scheduled blog posts my Whimsy Wednesdays will continue to appear on Wednesdays. I may not be visiting your sites regularly during the next while, depending on Internet availability, so I apologize ahead of time.

Here is an explanation and link to an amazing video by Zoltan Kenwell called "Aurora Borealis Over Alberta":

"Last Monday, April 23rd, a geomagnetic storm created a disturbance in the Earth's atmosphere, leading to an amazing display of aurora borealis lights over Alberta. Luckilyphotographer Zoltan Kenwell was there to capture the show.
This video was shot 65 km East of Edmonton, Alberta, on what Zoltan calls "a beautiful spring night on the Alberta prairies". If you've got a few minutes, it's an otherworldly look at a distinctly Canadian landscape:"

Happy Whimsy Wednesday, thanks for dropping by, until next week.....


  1. Have a safe trip. I think everyone is going on vacation:) That Rhodo Quilt is really cool. Love how you arranged all the pics into a pattern. There is something about the pink of the flower that calls on a past memory from my childhood. There is pink...and then there is the shade of pink you present in several of the shots. It's a comforting feeling....and it reminds me of my late Auntie. I think it has to do with her garden. As a child, I'd sit sipping on a cool drink with her on the patio overlooking her garden....and it was a color she very much loved....and it is a good memory. Secure. Comforting. Love your shots and historical tidbits. Thank you. Be safe!

  2. i like your 'quilt' of many colors! and your painting is lovely!

  3. I like the quilt, Gillian. Even in bits and pieces and rearranged, flowers provide visual delights and patterns. Looking at your watercolor, I can only imagine the fun you had in Italy. I once wandered down some of those ancient streets. What a joy! And what fun it was to review that visit in pictures. :)

  4. Well, Gillian, your photos have highlighted the Rhodos beauty and you have found more information about them than I could ever have guessed. I really appreciate your thorough research. Ulysses was included in my university English courses, but I must have completely missed that reference to Rhodos in Molly and Leopold's courtship. Fascinating! I, too, really enjoyed the quilt and I, too, have noticed a mask in some of my photos. Have a wonderful trip!

  5. Very interesting. We grow rhododendrons here in Australia too (as you mentioned above) but they are commonly known as azaleas.

    Hope you have a wonderful time traveling.

  6. Wow! All kinds of gorgeous colors! Nicely done, Gillian!

  7. I hope you have a good trip! I love your painting. Very interesting post about rhododendrons and I love the shots. They are a favorite flower and bush of mine.

  8. I didn’t know rhododendron came in such various colors, I had known only shades of pink. Your flower quilt is cool! Have a nice trip.

  9. Your Rhodo's are beautiful. And the colors are gorgeous. I hope you have a fun and safe trip.

  10. Just seeing your rhododendron photos makes me wish I could travel to the west coast. Enjoy your travels Gillian. i'm wondering if your watercolour this week gives us a hint of your destination? I'll look forward to your return . Lovely Rhodo Quilt!!

  11. So many pretty colors. Your photos are gorgeous. And Your painting looks amazing.. Hope you have a wonderful time on your travels..


  12. I wish I lived where rhodos could thrive like these!

  13. I love your mosaic quilt of Rhodos images put together. I visited Stanley Park the last four days enjoying the Rhodos garden there. Today is a gorgeous sunny day and is our last day here. Going home tomorrow.

  14. Love the 'rhodo quilt'and the painting is amazing. Have a fun trip!

  15. Enjoy your road trip. These shots and flowers are so very lovely.

  16. It is amazing that rhododendrons’ group has so many different colors and shapes. In a popular song, a color of sunset is mentioned as “rhododendron’s color”, so I had thought the color of the flowers was the sunset color. Thanks a lot for sharing this!! Your rhodo quilt is magnificent!

  17. wonderful painting! lovely and colorful rhododendron