"My house is made of flowers
The warm winds carpet the floor
Whenever there's spring showers
I open the rainbow door."
There is some debate whether 'Goldflimmer' is a cloned sport of Rhododendron catawbiense or R .ponticum & Greer's Guidebook to Available Rhododendrons makes no attempt to resolve the issue.
I'd think a simple assessment of the grayanotoxin content of the leaves would settle the debate, as this would be very high only in R. ponticum. But thus far no one has bothered to sort it out.
Certainly the flowers resemble the Pontus rhododendron, but in general leaf appearance it seems to be a Catawba. A perusal of catalogs finds it pretty much randomly assigned to one species or the other.
It by no means shares the invasive potential of R. ponticum, but this could be only because variegated shrubs of all sorts have a lower chlorophyll production so tend to be restrained in habit.
This is a German introduction released in 1983 & seems still to be more popular in England & Europe than in the United States. Compact, mounding, very hardy, it grows four feet to as much as six feet high & wide in ten years.
It's cold-hardy to minus 10 or minus 15 degrees F., suited to zones 5 through 8. It's also sun-hardy, but the ideal would be bright or dappled shade. The specimen shown here, in a friend's garden I've helped care for, has some trouble setting enough buds to be really impressive, because it spends much of the summer, when it would be setting buds for the following year, exceedingly shaded by a Japanese maple.
Its variegated leaves are deep green with a golden yellow flame or streak down the center of each leaf. It lends a bit of color even to the winter garden, as can be judged from the second photo snapped in March.
Often variegated rhododendrons are brittle, but this is not true of 'Goldflimmer.' So too for most variegated rhododendrons, the variegation isn't entirely stable & non-variegated limbs have to be pruned off, as is the case with R. ponticum 'Variegatum.' By contrast, 'Goldflimmer' is very stable.
Late May & June's ruffled lavender or lilac-purple flowers have yellow dorsal flairs. They are ruffled & occur in relatively small trusses.
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