Rhododendrons and Azaleas at Cragside

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Take a stroll around the peaceful Gardens and discover the Rhododendron forest at Cragside. The forest is set within the dramatic landscape created by Lord and Lady Armstrong.

It was created when it was fashionable to imitate foreign landscapes, such as the Rhododendron forests of Nepal. Along with conifer introductions from North America, the landscape grew into a fantasy Rhododendron forest.

 

Rhododendrons at Cragside
Rhododendrons have become synonymous with Cragside since they were planted. The spectacle of their flowering in late May and June is awaited with great anticipation by staff and visitors.

The most spectacular flowering shrubs at Cragside are the hardy hybrid Rhododendrons and deciduous azaleas, which can be seen in full bloom around:

  • the House
  • the Rock Garden
  • the Estate Drive
  • Nelly’s Moss Lakes.

Rhododendron hybrids named for the Armstrongs
Large areas of the woodland are covered with Rhododendron ponticum - a native of Asia Minor, caucasus and Armenia - introduced to Britain in 1673.

Lord and Lady Armstrong purchased thousands and, as a result, they had Rhododendrons named after them circa 1871 by the famous Rhododendron firm and breeders, Waterer’s of Bagshot in Surrey.

Rhododendron ‘Lady Armstrong’ is cerise pink, fading to a pale, almost white, eye. We still have her in our collection at Cragside.

Rhododendron ‘Sir William Armstrong’ is a strong red. Sadly we've never identified it in our collection and it may have been lost altogether. We live in hope that it exists somewhere in the world.

Azaleas
Azaleas, grouped under the generic name of Rhododendron, flower at the same time as the hardy hybrid Rhododendrons. A second display comes in autumn when its leaves turn to shades of yellow, orange, red and purple.

These can be found on the Rock Garden around the House, with small drifts around the estate drive.

Enjoy the Rhododendrons and Azaleas while you can
The spectacular Rhododendrons and Azaleas flower for a few short weeks and are one of the great wonders of the cultivated plant world. It’s worth coming back in the autumn to see the Azaleas in their autumn glory.