Monday, July 14, 2008

Volunteers Needed Rhododendron Gardens Mississauga Ontario to Dead Head Spent Rhodo Blossoms

Volunteers are needed this summer (now!) at Mississauga's Rhododendron Gardens. If you are in the area, or biking or hiking the Waterfront Trail through Port Credit, take a few minutes to stop at the Gardens and lend a hand with dead heading the spent rhododendron blooms.

Rhododendron in Full Bloom
This picture above of a blooming rhodo is the Before picture -- the glorious show of blooms that draws hundreds of visitors each spring to the garden park on the lakeshore in Mississauga.

Spent Rhododendron flower - the After Picture
When the bloom is gone, what's left needs to be carefully hand picked from the stem, taking care not to disturb the emerging stalk that will hold the blooms for the following summer. This lets the plant put all its energy into new growth, rather than into seed production. The paler green shoots bracketing the spent blossom in the middle show how much growth has already taken place on this particular plant. The longer the shoot, the trickier it is to get into the center to pinch out the spent blossom.

After the pinch - all neat and tidy and ready to grow!
The photo above shows the pruned area on a rhodo that has yet to send up new growth around the spent blossom (hand courtesy of Master Gardener Para). This is tedious but somewhat enjoyable work, standing out in the open air, mere steps from Lake Ontario, amidst birdsong and butterflies, and occasionally, a nice chat with another volunteer.

Rhododendron Gardens in Full Bloom
And while you prune and pinch, it helps to know that you are in some small but important way setting the stage for the next year's glorious Spring show at the Rhododendron Gardens. And knowing how much pleasure the gardens give to all visitors, especially the bridal parties who make this display their living backdrop for wedding photos.

If you are able to help simply show up on a weekday and ask to to speak to Para, who will give instructions. On weekends, look for other volunteers busy dead heading rhodos in the bushes.

As well other volunteers are busy on other projects in the Gardens, reports David Culham:
The Waterfront Trail construction is underway. The central rose bed is progressing slowly and with a great deal of sweat. Rob has donated all the roses but also the great amount of time in planning out the colour, scent, and the timeliness of bloom. Our expectation is that the roses will add to the colour throughout the summer and help define a Garden and not a Park.

Ferns have been donated and planted along the Tecumseh Creek by volunteers. A mornings dig for wild flowers (May Apple) succeeded and the transplanting occurred by volunteers. Weeding and shrub trimming is underway by volunteers. Para and staff are undertaking further Rhodo plantings at the moment especially in places with previous loses.

New Rose Garden
Here's the start of the new rose garden, where Rob is working long hours to lay out and plant about 700 rose bushes.

UPDATE: Thanks to a large group of spent bloom pickers, much of the dead heading is now done. BUT -- there's always some weeding help needed, so do drop by and pull a few!

More pictures of Rhododendron Gardens see this post

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