I have been m. i. a. from the blog pretty much since spring hit. I’m busy in spring and like to be outdoors. Also a WordPress upgrade went bad and I lost all my subscribers and could not blog for over a week. So if you were a subscriber, please sign up again.
During that week I lost the blogging habit.
The good news though is that I continued to take photographs.
And so… even though the flowers have waned, I must blog about azaleas. They are gone but not forgotten and I have the pictures to prove they were here!
First I must mention my favorite of all – the native wild honeysuckle azalea a.k.a Piedmont azalea (Rhododendron canescens). This is the native azalea in my neck of the woods. It is found in large stands mostly along creeks and rivers. The flowers are in rounded clusters with individual florets looking somewhat like a pink to white honeysuckle flower. The scent is a heavenly honeysuckle like fragrance.
I have planted many nursery grown specimens in my shaded back garden but the showing I love the most is an indigenous stand near my old nursery. These beauties came to us along with our first land purchase. They are in bloom usually in mid-March for barely two weeks. If I am busy and fail to give them the proper amount of admiration, I grieve for weeks after they are gone.
About nine of them live on the top of a hill – a remnant of the pre-existing woods. I can barely see them through the trees from my back deck. In full bloom they seem to cluster together like a bevy of teenage girls – all dressed up to go to the mall and claiming their space with a bit too much perfume. Ahhhhhh!
The Florida flame azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) is a similar native azalea with yellow to orange blooms. I have not see this one in the wild in my county. I have collected nursery plants from several locations and am establishing a bed that blooms yellow, orange and white near the creek. The white comes from a few fledgling Alabama azaleas (Rhododendron alabamense) by the way.
During bloom season these golden beauties reveal themselves from a great distance and beckon me nearer. They are loud for sure but I relish our time together.
My current favorite exotic azalea is an Asian hybrid with uncertain origins. It is a lavender spider flowered azalea called ‘Koromo Shikibu’. The unusual flowers sport narrow drooping petals that are marked with deep violet blotches.
‘Koromo Shikibu’ is very fragrant and has attractive velvety evergreen leaves. Plants tend to bloom in fall as well as spring. They also produce scattered red autumn leaves.
I am possibly enamored of ‘Koromo Shikibu’ simply because I look forward to sticking a few blooming stems in my autumn flower arrangements.
But… I do love the unique flower form and I must admit, that I just like saying ‘Koromo Shikibu’.
I do not have an azalea garden by any means. Still these gems are an important part of my spring garden.
Each year I smile when the first blossoms of these azaleas appear. I am happy to see my old friends decked out in their spring finery once more.