tulpeYesterday I visited the Bundesgartenschau in Koblenz. Koblenz is a lovely city on the banks of the Rhine and the Moselle, and Bundesgartenschau can be translated as National Garden Show. There are three venues across the town: one around a palace, the other around an ancient church, and the third inside a huge castle on top of a hill. There are big formal gardens and small designer gardens, and lots and lots of information – too much to take it in really, but hugely enjoyable nevertheless.

Although the weather has been beautiful here for the last week or two, most flowers you can see at the show so far are, not surprisingly, tulips. And what tulips there are! Every color imaginable, some big as peonies, others delicate. I went through all of them, admired them, and finally admitted to a bout of envy. I have tulips in my own garden. They are nice. But they don’t thrive as they might, some have disappeared, and altogether they aren’t as impressive as those I saw at the show. I want tulips like this. I want to know, without years of try and error, what will grow in my garden and what will do best in which flower bed. It’s a marvel I didn’t try to steal any of the tulips there. (And no, there were none on sale next to the formal gardens. Pity. I would have bought a sackful.)

On a more positive note, I have now discovered that rhododendron appear to like shady flowerbeds. I am going to verify this, and if it’s the case, I am going to get one.

Do you sometimes suffer from plant envy? And do you have any experience with rhododendron?

– Rike Horstmann