Island rhodos spring to life on MARS

Annual rhododendron show brings a cavalcade of blossoms to Parksville

Al Bieberstein

Al Bieberstein

Their beauty is supreme and not surprisingly rhododendrons are among the most popular shrubs that people grow where conditions are suitable.

The Mount Arrowsmith Rhododendron Society (MARS) held it’s annual show and sale on Saturday, April 21 at the Parksville Curling Rink and despite our cool spring, there were plenty of pretty flowers on display to admire.

MARS is a chapter of the American Rhododendron Society, an international organization of rhododendron enthusiasts. The society provides members with an opportunity to learn about rhododendrons and companion plants and it allows members to socialize with other gardeners and meet new people with similar interests.

The show on Saturday provided a sea of colour and some specimens of the flowers that would make any green thumb even greener with envy.

Al Bieberstein, a volunteer with MARS, won best in show in the small leaf early bloomer category.

Bieberstein admitted he has more than 200 rhodos in his garden and it was easy to see the pale pink bloom he entered was the result of a labour of love.

There are over 1,000 species of the woody plants around the world and they exhibit an enormous diversity of size and shape with the smallest species growing 10 to100 centimetres tall and the largest known also known as the giganteum reported to over 30 metres tall.

The rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal and the state flower of Washington is the Pacific rhododendron, or Rhododendron macrophyllum, which actually grows in the wild in our province.