The University Gardens

New look Rhododendron signs – with online extras!

The rhododendron collection in Nydalen has received new signs with QR codes. More collections will follow.

Michael David Pirie

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It is common knowledge that the Arboretum is the place to be in May for the most stunning displays of rhododendrons in Bergen. For sheer flower-power, the cultivar collections that line the road in towards Blondehuset are the bee’s knees – literally abuzz in early summer. Now, in mid-October, there is little to be seen of all that colour. Just Rhododendron ‘Abendrot’ is producing its typical out-of-season display of deepest red flowers, whilst the deciduous azaleas are showing their autumnal colours. When these have all finally fallen, we can await with anticipation the early flowering of Rhododendron ‘February Dawn’. However, for much of the year, most of this part of the University Gardens plant collections are reduced to somewhat sombre mounds of deep green.

This may not exactly an obvious time of year to visit our Rhododendron collections. However, from now on, our visitors at any time of year will be able to get a taste of the spectacle worth returning for: we have renewed the signs in our themed cultivar collections with updated information, an attractive design with photos, and QR-code links to even more information and photos - as well as full translations in English - on our University of Bergen webpage.

Our Rhododendron gurus were in the collections on Thursday to see the results and test the links out for themselves. Terhi Pousi, our specialist horticulturalist managing the Rhododendron collections in the Arboretum, found that her smartphone camera automatically recognized the QR-code and displayed the link to the webpage. Other phones might need a separate app to read the codes. The link takes you to the Norwegian version of the webpage, and for English you need only hit ‘English’ at the top-right corner of your screen on the red UiB banner. Of course, you do not need to be with us in person to see all this: On the Rhododendron cultivar collection page you can see an overview of all 27 themed collections and browse amongst them on a big screen from the comfort of your own home.

Per Magnus Jørgensen, who established the collection and authored a book on Rhododendron at Milde, was there with his wife Gerd, as were Per Harald Salvesen and Michael Pirie, current scientific curators of the collections. We are all happy with the way the signs have turned out and with the efforts of our communications team on the webpage to make more information better available to the public. We look forward to updating more of the signs for our key collections, including the Rhododendron species collection, the rose collections, and the heather garden, in the coming years. We very much hope you will find them interesting and informative.