Genus of The Month: April 2021

Genus of The Month: April 2021

Our team are always on the look out for new developments in the gardens. Each month, our Living Collections Manager, Graham, will be sharing some plants of interest with us.

April 2021: Rhododendron

Instead of a plant of the month for April we’re showcasing a genus which peaks spectacularly throughout the month – Rhododendron.

As our grounds are still closed to the public we’d like to share as many images as possible of these glorious plants with you and with 1,024 diverse species recorded there’s a great variety to chose from and something to suit all tastes.

Rhododendrons hail from the northern hemisphere, in particular Asia and around the Himalayas. They’re woody plants in the Ericaceae or heath family and can be either evergreen or deciduous. The genus was first formally described by Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in his Species Plantaum in 1753.

At Mount Stuart the first accounts of Rhododendron are in the 3rd Earl’s botanical tables with watercolours of the first recorded species, Rhododendon hirsutum. Archive records indicate the first Rhododendrons were purchased for Mount Stuart’s nursery in 1863 with over 1,000 plants introduced that year.

Much later introductions were made by the 6th Marquess in the 1960’s and early 1970’s from the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, planted on the Main Drive from Lime Tree Avenue towards the House and in the Rock Garden. Other introductions came from Brodick on the neighbouring Isle of Arran, these were manly large leafed species.

Rhododendron is the Nepalese national flower, the provincial flower of Jiangxi in China and the state flower of both Washington and West Virginia in the USA reflecting its widespread appeal and affection.

Here are images of some of the species in flower now, we’ll continue to add images throughout the month for you to enjoy!