Enjoying our current spring featuring no late freeze, my Facebook friends and I are posting amazing works of Nature, almost perfect.  I have not seen our acreage of bloomers ever producing this well.  There is a subconscious river of conversation about azaleas, roses and the like running through my dark spaces.  Is “one” of something ever enough? This morning, I thought not.

I have a huge Lady Banks.  It couldn’t be better.  Moved it from an old dead tree on the edge of our woods about ten years ago.  They can do well on an old tree armature; have seen it done.  My dead tree on the edge of the woods was not positioned for full sun, so moving it to the side of the back porch made it more available for admiration and for sun.   First year moved, I counted four blossoms.  You know, sleep, creep, leap!



This climber is not near at its height of the season yet.

A white rose a friend gave me two years ago is almost in bloom for this year.


During last year’s growing season, I was whacking it down every month.  Janet gave it to me because it was too big for her garden.  It is getting too big for mine too, but my mind went another way.  It occurred to me that this must be a mislabeled Lady Banks!  True, the flowers are bigger than my other Lady Banks, but with the speed it has grown during my ownership, what else could it be?


For its size,  the simple little zig-zag of “invisible”gardener’s fencing was not enough.  We had this broken bed.  This is what we will modify to accommodate the climbing rose, after it blooms this season.  Agreed.  Something tugged at me though. This big white rose had almost two inch thorns. That, gentlemen, is no Lady!

Came home from my run yesterday down Todd Creek Road.  Told Glenn that there was a middle sized Lady Banks bush in the area where we foraged for some Wisteria years ago.  The purple blooms must go for 4-5 hundred feet along the road, smelling and looking like paradise.  Had to have the rose, although there is no sunny spot on any of our three buildings that could accommodate a bush as big as our current Lady.  I thought maybe my daughter could use it.


Glenn took his newly licensed old Jeep down the road and here he is with the bush loaded into the back.  See the Wisteria in the background?


It wasn’t difficult to dig up, Glenn always has the right tools.  Wish we had a picture of our zooming down the country road with the white-flowered limbs stretching out behind us.


Above Glenn has emptied the bush in the back of the house.  I went inside.  Five minutes later he came in and looked at me as if I had mud all over my face, and didn’t know it.  Asking what was wrong,  he said that bush is not a Lady Banks! There are no roses, there are clusters of tiny white flowers!  Gobsmacked, I looked.  It was a big damn Bridal Veil bush, and I have three already.  My Bridal Veils are just starting to bloom, below.


See the difference?

white bridal veil

Bridal Veil

white lady banks

Lady Banks Rose


New bush in its new spot.


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.


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.




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.


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.






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