My appreciation of plants I can’t eat is sadly limited.
Case in point is our many rhododendrons. Kevin once counted ninety, but we keep finding more tucked away in obscure corners of our two acres. And they’re not just any rhododendrons, they’re Dexter hybrids.
Dexter hybrids are named for one Charles Owen Dexter who, after retirement from the textile business in 1921, took to breeding rhododendrons here on Cape Cod. His plants are well-known in planty circles, and collected by New England rhododendron aficionados. The man who owned our house for thirty years was one such, and we have inherited the somewhat overgrown fruits of his labor.
Our rhodies come in every color from snow-white to blood-red, and have odd names like Ice Cube and Grace Seabrook (we know this only because they still have their tags). Our collection is extensive enough that some of our friends ask if they can come see them when they’re in bloom.
I suppose I can enjoy them in a look-at-the-nice-flower kind of way, but the enthusiasm that drives someone to spend time, money, and effort on a plant that has nothing going for it but a flash-in-the-pan blossom is lost on me. Not only can you not eat any part of it, the plant is toxic and can kill you if you try. Rhododendrons exist only to be admired.
Sure, they’re pretty for fifteen minutes in the spring, but the rest of the year they’re just bushes.