I bought my White Rhododendron sometime last century from the check-out at Marks & Spencers. I'd been in buying bras (a dismal experience) and popped into the food hall to cheer myself up. There, rabidly reduced at the checkout, were a tumble of nondescript twigs marked "Colour, Vibrant, Year on Year" (and, in smaller letters, "Perennial Shrubs"). I abandoned all thoughts of fancy chocolate and took home a White Rhododendron ("Elegant, Timeless, Bright"), thereby committing myself to lugging a colossal planter full of ericaceous compost through a series of rental homes, but worth it, I thought, as I nipped into the ironmongers for the smallest sack of compost and the lightest pot I could find, as I wheeled the lot home on my bike, for my beautiful white rhododendron. And then it flowered:
That's how it looks now, not then; back then, excited to be in its first real home, its first flush of flowers were a screaming Barbie pink. I suppose I could have taken it back, but by then it was establishing, and there were the first hints of the huge beautiful patio monster it would become. I forgave it the pink, and bought it some food, and every spring it brings me the bright. Red, for rhodies as for humans, comes through iron loading, and I feed it well throughout the summer. And then the cats have to put up with this:
Both it and old cat are pushing twenty now, and still looking good!