If you’ve been following my Fall Planting Series, you’ll know why fall is such a great time of year to plant! This is also the perfect time to see where your garden is lacking in winter interest, and to add some year-round stars to perk things up. Rhododendrons are one of my favorite plants now, but there was a time when I found them boring and overused. Here in Northern Cali, you can’t turn around without seeing some sickly yellowed planting of Rhodies in a parking lot, and I judged all of them by those poor specimens. Luckily, we have a Rhododendron specialty nursery here (yes, they do mail order!), and after one visit to them, I was hooked. The gorgeous dark greens and the snowy white new growth of the Yaku hybrids, the lightning bolts down the center of the variegated varieties, and the sheer variety in foliage, growth habit, and texture blew me away – these plants were nothing like the sorry ones in the Kmart parking lot. Some hardly even looked like Rhodies! We usually think of Rhodies for spring interest since that’s when most of them bloom, but the gorgeous foliage on so many makes them winter standouts, too. And if you are blossom-centric, there are even a couple that will bloom for you in winter!