I was walking home after a lunch date and a block away from my house, a woman is deadheading her 12 foot high rhodos. I walk past her yard and then I think “Wait. Did I just see one of my neighbors actually working in her own garden?” So I turn around, walk back and go stand at the bottom of her ladder and say “excuse me, do you mind if I ask you what happens if you don’t deadhead”? She looks down and says “Well, I never used to deadhead, but I went to some lecture from some expert at the botanical gardens, and if you don’t deadhead, you won’t get as many flowers”. “Good to know” I say. “I’ve been avoiding doing any deadheading”. She suggests that I just deadhead one tree and see if it make a difference next year. The scientific method…I like it. She asked me “Have you been feeding your rhodos?” I say….”Uh no”. She points to some of her leaves that are a bit brown and she says “they need iron, and an acidic fertilizer. Try it on one plant this year”. This is excellent advice, as many of my rhodos seem kind of shriveled and brown.
So what I learned about Rhodos is:
1) they need to be deadheaded
2) they need to be fertilized
3) they can be moved, even if they are large.
We continue talking. It turns out she knew my in-laws quite well. She says “From my perspective, 71 is the prime of life, and dying at that age is too young”. I agree with her, because 71 seems to young from my perspective as well. She says “Drop by another day and come by the back of my house and I will give you a rhododendron manual.” Cool.