Friday, February 22, 2008

Weather Report

Without it being in bloom, I can’t be sure if this plant is a Rhododendron ponticum or a Rhododendron catawbiense, both of which according Wikipedia are so similar they are difficult to distinguish. This plant has always been one of the favorites in my landscaping, particularly at the end of May when it blooms. But every winter it is a dedicated servant, giving me a weather report. At 19°F (7° C) its leaves fold in; the colder the temperature the tighter the fold. And, after nearly 25 years, I’ve become quite good at divining the winter temperature with a quick glance through my window. This photo was taken just at exactly 19°. This is only the second major snowstorm we have had this season, although we have had quite a bit of rain. Two other small facts. The Rhododendron catawbiense is named for the Catawaba tribe of Native Americans. The word Rhododendron derives from two Greek words “rhodos” (rose) and dendron (tree). A rose tree! No wonder I’m so partial to it! Does anyone else have a weather tree?

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