Mountain laurels (Kalmia latifolia) are among the plants that grow wild on the site and there are many old, gnarly specimens dotting the landscape, especially the rocky slopes of our natural areas. During a good year, these plants put on a floral show that rivals even the best of the azaleas. Due to the breeding efforts of Richard Jaynes, among others, dozens of beautiful selections have been developed and distributed. Unlike the common white blossoms we see with the species, we now have cultivars with maroon flowers such as ‘Heart’s Desire’, reds such as ‘Ostbo Red’, and pinks such as ‘Nathan Hale’. There are also split-petaled selections like ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘Galaxy’, dwarf selections like ‘Elf’ and ‘Minuet’, strap-petaled selections like ‘Willowcrest’ and its southern counterpart, ‘Willowood’, and even the very unusual variety called ‘Stoplight’ which has bright red buds that never fully open into flowers. In total, Jenkins maintains a collection of nearly 300 Kalmias of 44 different taxa, which includes K. angustifolia (sheep laurel) and the hybrid of K. latifolia x K. hirsuta (hairy laurel). The pictures below represent a portion of the collection found at Jenkins Arboretum & Gardens.
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