Winterthur is the legacy of Henry Francis du Pont, 1880-1969, American
Of the large bushes at Winterthur, it is the rhododendrons – some of them trees – whose flowering is with us the longest.
The earliest, Korean varieties, flower in late March and early April. There are flowers still in bloom in mid-Autumn.
A Korean rhododendron bush blooming in March with yellow spike winterhazel
Rhododendrons are planted at more than one site in the gardens. The largest concentration are the trees of the Azalea Woods.
A purple rhododendron framed by Kurume azalea
Here, dense though are the plantings of Kurume azalea, the rhododendrons hold their own,
aided by their height above the azalea, which often beam upwards a brilliant, dense underlight.
Aided also by the size of their flower heads
and the extraordinary gyrations of trunk and bough.
as the trees advance across these woods
in search of sunlight under the high canopy of spruce and beech.
In May and June these trees are hung with colour,
The rhododendrons emerge after rain, wraith-like
to light up with warming sun,
calling out their beauty …
Until, it seems, they are crowded with admirers
This is Kurume azalea hanging on every word of the flower of pale pink tree rhododendron
Rhododendron wreathed by white Kurume azalea
Then you can imagine a theatre where the actors,
held momentarily erect by the balance of their bouffant hairdos and their trailing flounces,
begin delicate maneuvers across the woods,
sheltering their flowers against the next rain…
This generous earth has sustained me in my American journey many years now.
The spirit of the woods a metaphor for an interpretation which holds that our souls are ours alone
but our spirit, an attribute of our entire species, is like that of almost all organisms: maneuvering towards the light.
And the rhododendron a magnificent example and companion.