I looked up and May was gone. Just like that, my month outside slid from present to past while I was bent over weeding the flower beds.
As if to mark the passing of time, I watched my favorite line of plants move in and out of flower glory. My azaleas started it, with the fuchsia and orange blooms. Then came the rhododendrons, all purple and pink and one lone dark magenta bush. And finally, my mountain laurel with its star-shaped cups of white edged in pink. It’s my favorite time of the year, and the rhododendron family is showing off. They are the beauties in the yard, covering the timeframe from early April until mid-June.
This Mother’s Day I bought myself 6 more rhodo shrubs for around the yard. With the 1.5 acres, I have plenty of places for them. There are 5 purply-pink and one bright red on the porch soaking up equal parts of sunshine and water. I’ve spent the better part of May clearing a space for them. Way back when, just after Huband #2 and I bought this house, we purchased our first five rhododendrons from Costco. All lavender. All the same size. Now the biggest is taller than I am and roughly as wide as a Volkswagen Beetle. There’s a robin’s nest in the branches this year.
Husband #2 and I used to walk around the perimeter of yard each day just for a quick break to stretch our legs. I’d tell him about the garden I envisioned, the natural fence of rhododendrons filling in, growing large, providing a privacy screen between us and the neighbors. Our collection grew as I would pick up plants here and there, especially at the end of the season when things were on clearance. Our five original plants became fifteen. A few died along the way, getting replaced the following spring when rhodos were back in stock. Now my fifteen will become twenty-one… not counting the handful of azaleas and the one mountain laurel.
Like I said, they are my favorite plant family. And oh so pretty.
But it seems that purple is the main color found in our local nurseries. Sure, I did get the red one and the magenta one, but they were like black sheep among the regular purple blooms. I snatched them up before anyone else could buy them.
Then I saw a yellow rhododendron bush. Not in real life but online. Like garden unicorns, I had to pinch myself and whisper the words, “They DO exist.”
Just not here.
When I found the yellow rhododendron about 7 years ago, I showed Husband #2 and we talked about a future road trip to New Jersey to purchase two, maybe four of them for the yard. I held it in the back of my mind, the garden daydream. Something that Husband #2 and I would do together on one of our vacations.
Our Yellow Quest.
We were always doing things like that… the random long-distance road trip to find pizza or cannolis or a pretty view. Spending time in the car with the windows down, a bag of sunflower seeds and a couple of chai teas between us. I miss that part of him – The Adventurer who would jump into my spontaneous world and drive off into the sunset with me.
Now I debate making the trip myself, not so much because I don’t like to drive on my own. No, I’m perfectly fine with that and love being on the road.
Rather, I don’t make the trip because I don’t want to plant my yellow rhododendron in a yard that I will leave soon. My plants take root and I can’t take them with me when I go. At least not the big ones.
So the extra large purple rhododendron will stay and keep all of his smaller siblings company. The collection of Japanese maple trees will also remain as they are too large for me to move. And my asparagus patch will be left behind, a gift that was passed down to us from the previous owner and will hopefully bring joy to the next family that lives here.
For now, the yellow rhododendron will wait until I’m ready to make a permanent home for it.
My future is still somewhat cloudy but at least I’ll have the day lilies to keep me company.