Russ and Velma Haag’s initial interest in rhododendrons dates back to 1952 and blossomed into a love affair that has spanned more than half a century. Although Russ passed away in 1995 at age 85, Velma actively continues their legacy, working in the garden every day – weather permitting.

While they were living in New Jersey. Russ, a chemical engineer for Exxon (then Standard Oil of New Jersey) and Velma, a mother of four and homemaker, were enticed by the opportunity to get some free rhododendrons from Pennsylvania to landscape the yard of their recently-purchased home. Little did they imagine at the time where that initial spark of interest might lead them.

After retirement in 1968 the couple embarked upon a search for the perfect location to spend the rest of their lives continuing the pursuit of their passion for rhododendrons. In 1971 they finally chose the mountains of Western North Carolina as the ideal place. They brought with them on that 600-plus mile relocation over 4,000 of their new hybrids, a figure which would eventually grow to almost 16,000 during their years in North Carolina. Today, with almost 1,100 of the best of those unique but unregistered, mature hybrids flourishing on their property, the Haag RhodoGardens each springtime is a once-in-a-lifetime feast for the eyes of any true rhododendron lover.

In 1981 the American Rhododendron Society awarded Russ and Velma Haag the Silver Medal in recognition of their contributions. That award, in part, mentions their active involvement at all levels of the Society, their key roles in establishing a 5,000-plant public display garden and their extensive work as hybridizers which resulted in a number of their crosses becoming registered and unselfishly made available to the membership.

This web site provides a glimpse into their amazing journey, and takes you on a tour through their wonderful garden. Enjoy!

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About The Haags
Why Western North Carolina
A RhodoGardens Tour
Flower Photos
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