ARS Victoria Newsletter – August 2017

  • Date: 6th August 2017
  • author: Francis Crome


The Kurume bowl at NRG Olinda is one of the most famous parts of the gardens. It provides a tranquil year round retreat and a spectacular vision when the  azaleas are flowering. Originally the bowl was designed as four tiers of azaleas producing the bowl effect but over the years the Kurume bowl has become tired and overgrown, growth of the azaleas has been unchecked and the original layered design of the bowl has been lost. Rabbits have formed warrens under the azaleas and it is time for a refurbishment. Parks Victoria and ARSV have been having discussions about what to do and over the next year or two the bowl will be cleaned up, the azaleas pruned and brought back to good condition and the original four-tier structure restored.

So, if on your visit to the gardens you see us or parks staff working away in the bowl, have no fears, it is all an effort to restore it to its original glory. If you didn’t know already Kurumes have an interesting history.

“Kurume azalea” is a horticultural name for evergreen azaleas bred in Kurume, Fukuoka, in northern Kyushu, characterized by small to medium sized flowers with bright colours and numerous flowers covering the whole plant. They are sometimes referred to as Rhododendron obtusum Planch. They were named after the Kurume feudal family by their originator and clan retainer, presumably a samurai, Motozo Sakamoto (1786-1854) about 170 years ago. They were derived from natural hybrids between R. kaempferi and R.kiusianum found on Mt. Kirishima, Kyushu, the purple flowered R. kiusianum growing on the mountain tops and the red flowered R.kaempferi around the mountain’s base. The breeding of Kurume azaleas has also involved R. saatense, R. macrosepalum and R. ripense.

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