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Garden Care

It is unusual to have a rhododendron collection this far north; in the 1960’s we were at the northern end of the range for evergreen rhodies, but today many varieties are hardy to –25 or –30 degrees F. Ours are somewhat protected here by the topography and the white pines. The pines helped to create the acidic soil and shady conditions needed by these acid-loving woodland plants. We boost the acidity by mulching with sulphur, shredded pine bark, and pine needles by hand every other year. We use iron sulphate once each spring to green up the rhodies in places where the overstory is not adequate to prevent plants from yellowing.  A slow-release fertilizer is applied each spring. Because deer love rhododendrons, we also use deer repellants.

Garden History

This collection honors Cornell horticulturalist and faculty member Dr. Clement Gray Bowers, who specialized in rhododendron breeding, classification and selection. Bowers bred rhododendrons suited to cold winters.