Rhododendron Maximum, the native Rhododendron which is very common in Pennsylvania and southwards, and is found also in New England and New York, has been used much for naturalizing in the past few years. In fact it has been used too much, especially on large estates where it is thickly plastered over every available space. The first thing a millionaire does after closing the purchase of a tract of land on which to build a mansion, is to order a train-load of Rhododendrons. He evidently seems to think that he thus establishes beyond doubt his status in the county. Rhododendrons are much more effective when used sparingly, and planted not too close together, for they grow into dense masses of thickly matted foliage and crowd each other out in a short time. A few Rhododendrons are a great addition to a small place - a carload or so is a detriment. The location for them is in partial shade along the edge of the wood, on slightly rising or uneven ground. A good clump thus placed where it will be seen at a slight distance from the driveway is more enjoyable, and looks better than enormous plantations stretching in all directions like a nursery.
They will not grow on limestone soil; they prefer a light, sandy loam, and once established in this they are not much care except that they should be kept from drying out. In very hot weather towards the end of Summer they should be watered, and a mulch of rotted manure applied during July. If you live in the latitude of New York or northward procure your plants from New England or northern New York. In some localities they are found in profusion and it is easy to transplant large specimens. The broad-leaved Laurel (Kalmia lati-folia), a near relation of the Rhododendron, is a valuable shrub, considered by many even superior to the Rhododendron. It is an ideal shrub to have near the house as its form is most attractive and its bloom superb. The Laurel blooms a little later than the Rhododendron, and it is well to combine the two as they look much alike and, when thus used, the blooming season of the clump will be prolonged. When Rhododendrons are taken from the woods they are apt to be imperfect in conformation, and therefore not as desirable for specimens to use near the house as the nursery grown hybrids that are imported from Holland and England. English Rhododendrons are by far the better grown; among those that are recommended by W. Robinson, the English authority, and which are hardy, are:
Wild Rhododendrons in front of an Old Wall.
Rhododendron on the Edge of a Wood.
Album Elegans Album Grandiflora C. Bagley everestianum Lady Claremont Roseum Elegans
Blandyanum Caractacus C. Dickens Lady Armstrong Purpureum Elegans H. W. Sargent
Both the Laurel and Rhododendron are evergreen. When the blossoms have faded pick off the seed pods so the strength of the plant will not be wasted. Rhododendrons only bloom profusely every other year.