Kalmia I at ifolia

Kalmia, also known as calico bush or mountain laurel, a native of mountains in the eastern United States, is one of the finest summer-flowering shrubs for gardeners with acid soil. It is a hardy evergreen growing to great heights in the wild, but is usually not more than 6 to 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 m) tall in the garden, and rather more in spread. The leaves are glossy and pointed, and those at the tips of the branches shelter clusters of rosy pink cup-shaped flowers crimped like calico, with conspicuous white stamens. The clusters are some 4 inches (10 cm) across, tightly crowded with blossom in a good season.

Kalmias are encaceous and need a cool, moist position in lime-free soil, preferably in light shade, though an open position is acceptable. In a small garden there would scarcely be space for more than one specimen, but if they can be planted in groups kalmias give the same massy effect as clumps of rhododendrons. Where there is no shade, a mulch of peat will help to keep the roots cool.

Shrub books are careful to warn you that the leaves are poisonous to cattle, but this is a rare hazard, and on the only occasion when cows burst into my gar-den, I did not wish them well.

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