Plant of the Month - April

13th April 2023

Plant of the Month - April

Rhododendron 'shilsonii' Written by Gardener Gordon Lang

The month of April gets its name from the Latin word aperio, meaning “to open (bud)”, as this is the time when plants really begin to grow meaning hundreds of Rhododendron including Magnolias & Camellias will be starting to blossom and set off the spring flower parade across our 300 acre garden.

Over the past 300 years many varieties have been planted including large hybrid specimens such as our plant of the month Rhododendron 'shilsonii'. This is an exquisite plant with dark green foliage showing off its absolutely stunning red flowers, these are the best early red blooms to be seen and as the colour glows it appears to heat up the ground for daisies to peep through the grass. This particular large plant can be easily seen within the lawn on the Back Drive just before Lime Tree Avenue.

The Rhododendron shilsonii is a cross between Rhododendron thompsonii (red) x Rhododendron barbatum (pink) first made by Richard Gill while he was head gardener to Henry Shilson of Tremough, Cornwall, and received an Award of Merit when shown from there in 1900. This first hybrid species had a reputation of being hard to grow well but as the cross was redone and planted in various gardens, the shrub is now known to be a good grower up to 15ft tall and quite hardy withstanding frost and temperatures up to -15 degrees. Being native to areas with high rainfall they are naturally suited to moist soil and will require watering during prolonged periods of hot, dry weather.

This red-tailed bee was found today enjoying an early spring feast!!!

We have recently been shortlisted for Historic Houses Garden of the Year and would really appreciate if you could take a moment to vote for Mount Stuart Trust