The “Lost” Enkianthus Grove in Washington Park Arboretum

August 8th, 2014 by UWBG Horticulturist

Does anyone reading this know where our arboretum’s “lost” Enkianthus grove is located? By “lost”, I mean extremely well-hidden under a dense canopy of western red cedars and other trees.

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Enkianthus specimens previously “lost” in the overgrowth.

Enkianthus are shade-tolerant shrubs, but NOT “black-hole” shade tolerant. Like most living plants, they do need light to grow and thrive.  It’s a bit embarrassing, but I can honestly say, during my 30 plus year tenure on the UWBG horticulture staff, I don’t recall ever working in the area for longer than maybe a day cleaning up after a storm or pruning a few of the bigger trees. And, we definitely did not pay any attention to the main attraction – a grove of over 50 Enkianthus specimens, mostly all E. campanulatus (red-vein enkianthus) and over 70 years old! Well, the answer to the question above is Rhododendron Glen, encompassing several grid maps (14-2E, 14-3E and 15-3E).

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Accession number 2352-37, this Enkianthus campanulatus was planted in 1937.

Now for the good news. Thanks to funding designated for Rhododendron Glen, our horticulture staff has taken on the project to restore the grove for all to be able to once again, after a very long hiatus, enjoy its natural beauty and splendor throughout the year.

The project scope includes the following to improve the health and display of the Enkianthus grove:

  • Increase light conditions through selective understory brush clearing, tree removals and pruning
  • Open view corridors and a cleared natural pathway for visitors to walk from the upper Rhododendron Glen pond area down to the lower “Lookout” pond
  • Improve health of the Enkianthus through practicing sound horticulture: mulching, watering and fertilizing the grove

For more information about the ornamental shrub, Enkianthus campanulatus, go to Wikipedia website below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enkianthus_campanulatus

 

 

 

 

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