Redwood Rhodies

Humboldt Spring SP14-301

Every May on California’s northcoast Rhododendrons begin to bloom within the immense redwood forests that dot the coastal inlands in Redwood National Park. Curiously, this is considered the peak time for photography on in Redwood National Park. Most of the photography workshops that are scheduled for California northcoast arrive in spring, usually in May or early June, around the time the Rhododendrons are most likely to spread their purple petals. To see what all the fuss is about, I decided to go on up and check out the Rhodies blooming in the Redwood forests this year. The biggest clumps of them are in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove off Bald Hills Road (near Orick), and along the Damnation Creek Trail in the Del Norte Redwoods, right off Highway 101.

One thing to note right off the bat. The Rhodies that bloom in the Redwood forest are nowhere as rich and effulgent as those that bloom elsewhere. The redwood forests are dark, cool, fog enshrouded affairs that don’t actually make particularly good nurseries for the growth of flowers. Check out these Rhodies blooming in late April at a rest stop along Highway 101:

Now examine some Rhodies growing in redwood forests:

The flowers are not nearly as think in the redwood forests. That’s problem number one when photographing them. Second problem is that, when they do bloom, they tend to bloom high above the forest floor, so that to photograph them you have to point the camera up. And they tend not to bloom in places that provide particularly good vistas for photographing redwood forests (which are not so easy to photograph anyways). Here’s more selection of Rhodie photos for spring 2014:

And one last shot: