May Means Rhododendron

More specifically, May is the month for Washington State’s flower, the Coastal Rhododendron. They may bloom earlier or later (or not at all in much of the state), but May’s the month they’re recognized and obvious. And very welcome.

Some state flowers are cute, delicate things best observed near to the ground, an excuse to limber up the back and knees just to see them. Washington State’s flower grows on from an evergreen shrub that is very likely taller than some houses, covered with dozens or hundreds of large blooms, and native so no tending required. In many ways it is one of the easiest state flowers to honor.

Visit a nursery and find a wide variety of colors. As the professionals about whether any have affinities for various micro-climates or provide different ornamentation. While there are non-profit gardens (Meerkerk Gardens) and public parks (Rhododendron Trail – Rhododendron Park is currently closed to the public), it’s also possible to take a tour by driving around the island, looking along and into forests, or noticing neighbors who color-coordinate with the landscaping and the house, or go wild for the most colors in one yard, or just a few for natural color soon after the winter storms are gone.

And, of course, the easiest way to enjoy rhododendrons is to grown them, no travel required. Correction: The easiest way to enjoy rhodies is to get the neighbors to grow them – just maybe help with tending the plant at the end of the peak to get ready for next year’s visit.

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