ABOUT AZALEAS

We have a lot of azaleas.  One cannot deny their brilliance at a certain time of the year.  They are stunning when flowering.  They simply take up space when they are not, but that characteristic can be used positively by a gardener.  Lush and green most of the year in the South, they still have leaves in the winter but not an abundance.  They are stick-y looking.  Serious gardeners like less common bushes.

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But part of my raison d’etre is to do things on the cheap.  I have extensive gardens, and propagate to populate them.  Therefore I have azaleas, mostly white ones.  We had a freeze the other day, a late one. Last year our last freeze killed almost all my blooms.  It was the right freeze at the right time.  This year only a few buds froze and only those that were about mid-age for a bud.  Smaller tighter ones survived, and blooms survived.  Buds that were about to open did not.  Below are some babies found under mature plants about six months ago.  I pulled three loquat trees out of this garden and extended the azaleas.  Buds on the back plant survived, but not on the front.

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The bushes above are bursting with buds.  To the left of this image are the babies which are replacing the loquats.

The first time I saw azaleas, home in St. Louis where they did not abound at that time (do they now?), was in a book that my dad had ordered through the mail.  It was a dream book for him.  It showed houses that you could buy, and they would arrive in a railroad car.  Cannot remember if this was around the time that he bought a couple of lake lots in St. Claire, MO, and he was thinking about building there.  This book had a house on the front that was overflowing with candy pink azaleas.  This was LONG before photoshop, but they looked totally fake to me.  That is the thing about azaleas.  Imagine a yellow sided house in the image of an old Florida postcard below.  There was my introduction to this plant.

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But more than that, I thought when seeing that book was that we were moving, and was horrified.  A sophomore in high school, my needs were paramount then.  I certainly did not want to move into a house like that from a railroad car and those nasty fake bushes all around!  It did not happen; Dad didn’t survive long enough to do anything with those lots.

Thinking often about what he would think about my ten acres,  I enjoy them for myself, but also for him.  I create compositions and breed plants and generally make something from nothing.

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Oh, and these are not azaleas.  They are loropetalum.  And not photoshopped.

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