The story

When rhododendron breeder Roy Thompson crossed the Frank Galsworthy variety with the Leo variety, this produced a seedling in an extremely dark shade of colour, which he subsequently crossed with the Warlock rhododendron.

The result was a lovely new rhododendron, which he called Black Widow in analogy of the black spider with red dots on its back. The flowers of the Black Widow start out completely black and turn a lovely maroon colour during the flowering process.

We quickly noticed that many ladies visiting our show garden are highly attracted to the Black Widow, wholeheartedly exclaiming their admiration for this spectacular plant. Most men, however, tended to immediately associate the name Black Widow with murdering spouses.

Theme at the Ghent Floralies: Japan East meets West

Coincidentally, we recently read an article about Japan’s blackest widow: Chisako Kakehi took the lives of eight husbands with a view to getting her hands on their life insurance money.

Florist Michael Schyns elaborated on this theme by creating a memorial forest with Japanese haiku to commemorate the deceased husbands, in which eucalyptus trees symbolise the deceased men and waves the endlessly recurring cycle of life and death.

Of course, the Black Widow herself has to be represented in this forest as well: she is part Japanese, part European and created in part from the rhododendron Black Widow.

Where East and a Rhododendron called Black Widow, meets West

Let yourself be seduced by our black lady - at the Floralies in Dome 1 at the Bijloke Site, from April 22th until the May 1st 2016.


Black Widow is one of the most popular newcomers of the past few years. This variety has very dark maroon-black flowers with wavy edges that grow in heavy trusses, with strikingly contrasting white stamens. When still in bud, the flowers appear almost black.

The plant has an upwards-growing, broadly-spreading habit and lovely dark green, slightly glossy foliage.

It can grow to approximately 100cm in 10 years.

Flowering period: mid-May