Rare Find Nursery – A Great Nursery for Rhododendrons

Rhododendron (laetum x lowii)by Eric Hunt.

Is there anyone who doesn’t love Rhododendrons?  ThisGardenLady certainly finds them beautiful. The word Rhododendron, which includes the azalea in the family, comes from the Greek meaning Rose Tree. It is the national flower of Nepal which must make the country look like Shangri-La when they are in bloom.

One of the breeders of rhododendrons was Hank Schannen. Mr. Schannen had been a recipient of the Gold Medal of the American Rhododendron Society and a former board member of the Rhododendron Species Foundation.  He started a nursery to showcase and sell his Rhododendrons called Rare Find  Nursery in Jackson, NJ.  Though Hank Schannen had passed away a few years ago, we are fortunate that his partner and associates have kept the Rare Find Nursery going.  And though they sell excellent other plants, the Rhododendron is still the star of the nursery.

TheGardenLady went to Rare Find Nursery recently with some friends. The Rhododendrons were in magnificent bloom and she was taken on a tour of the 11 acres of Rhododendrons.  To see some of what I saw on the tour look at this video:

For information about Rhododendrons you can check out and perhaps join the American Rhododendron Society. “Rhododendron species are found in the wild from the arctic regions to the tropics, spanning a wide range of climates.“   Their website tells you which are the best rhododendrons for your area.

While I was visiting Rare Find Nursery, the owners put out a large number of containers with huge rhododendron plants that were on sale for $20 a piece.  These were unnamed varieties or extras that they had. Though I hadn’t planned on adding any rhododendrons to my property, I already have 3 rhododendrons and 10 azaleas, how could this GardenLady resist buying more, even though they aren’t guaranteed to grow as the non-sale rhododendrons are. Since I was the first one there when the sale started, I got the pick of the plants. I bought one that was about 5 ft tall- it will grow very tall, I was told- with creamy white flowers and the other has red flowers.(At other times when I visited the nursery I noticed they offered some of their plants on sale.)

If you decide to grow rhododendrons in your garden, here is “Hank Schannen’s Criteria for Success with Rhododendrons”
12 Criteria for Success

1. Drainage
2. Drainage
3. Drainage
4. Drainage
5. Drainage
6. Drainage
7. Acid pH
8. Dappled Shade
9. Able to water when needed
10. If containerized, loosen roots (viciously)
11. When in doubt, plant HIGH!!
12. Hmmmm- More DRAINAGE!!!!

You can read the catalog to find out his 9 ways to kill a Rhododendron.
Hint: a few of the ways to kill these plants is to not pay attention to the drainage.

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