Vivid ‘rhoddies’ on display at Mount Stuart

Rhododendron falconeri (Falconer rhododendron) (Britain and Ireland Champion tree) in flower at Mount Stuart. � Andrea Jones
Rhododendron falconeri (Falconer rhododendron) (Britain and Ireland Champion tree) in flower at Mount Stuart. � Andrea Jones

A vibrant display of rhododendron, magnolia, camellia and other flowering bulbs is in full bloom at Mount Stuart as part of the Glorious Gardens of Argyll and Bute initiative.

The vibrant red and pink rhododendrons, forming part of the initiative’s Festival of Rhododendrons, are the first blooms that set off the spring flower display within the 300-acre gardens.

When it hits its peak from April to late May, hundreds of plants will be flowering across the gardens.

Davey McVey, Mount Stuart’s outer estate gardens supervisor, said: “It’s great to see the first of our beautiful rhododendrons flowering, some slightly earlier than previous years.

“They’re so well protected here on the east side of the island benefiting from the very mild winter. This is the start of what we expect to be one of our best ever spring flower display.”

Many hundreds of varieties have been planted in the garden and grounds over the past 300 years, including a large specimen of Rhododendron arboreum ssp albotomentosum, rare in cultivation.

An exquisite plant with white backed dark green leaves which shows off its beautiful red flowers produced from early March till the end of May, the Rhododendron arboreum plant, next to the main lawn in front of Mount Stuart house itself, is the largest girthed specimen in the country and dates back to around 1863.

The largest specimen of Rhododendron falconeri in the British Isles will be in full flower in April.

Rounding off the season in late May will be the beautiful scented white and pale pink blooms of Rhododendron decorum. Many large specimens can be found to the north and south of the main house.

Living collections manager Graham Alcorn leads spring flower walks, focusing on those rhododendrons, through the grounds at 2pm on April 20 and 27 and May 13, 20 and 30.