Plant Collector: Rhododendron Loderi Venus

Loderi Venus - still at the top of its class

Loderi Venus - still at the top of its class

If ever there was a good reason to learn to graft plants at home, it is the Loderi rhododendrons. These used to be widely available in the days when specialist rhododendron nurseries produced a huge range and when customers understood that sometimes special varieties need to be grafted, so were willing to pay a premium. These days there will only be one or two places in the whole country still producing these lovelies, which can’t, in the main, be grown from cutting.

The Loderi group date back to the turn of last century when Sir Edmund Loder of Leonardslee near London crossed fortunei with griffithianum. The results were rather large trees with exceptionally large flowers, fantastic fragrance and reasonable hardiness. Despite the passage of over a century, little has been produced that is the equal, let alone an improvement, in the big, fragrant class of rhododendrons. This one is Loderi Venus. Unfortunately our mature Loderi King George bit the dust when one a huge Lombardy poplar landed on top of it but Mark is hoping that his emergency grafts will take so that we can keep it represented in the garden. Venus has the best pink colour of the group and is a picture in full flower.