Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Return to the alphabet - Azalea.

Well what can I say, after a really bad summer from September onwards we have had the best, most consistent, weather of the year, although it has now become wet and windy temperatures remain exceptionally high and plants which should now be heaps of dead growth are still flowering or even coming back into totally unseasonal flower.

We have seen plenty of pictures of autumnal gardens recently so I am going to revert back to the sort of "A to Z of plants I grow" theme I started earlier in the year, never getting further than "A" I may add, with a plant which is dear to me.

Azalea (Rhododendron)

Already getting into deep water because Azalea is thought of as a separate genus but in actual fact belongs to divisions of the genus Rhododendron although somehow the exact nomenclature is often an embarrassing grey area quoting Azalea as a synonym for example, one shouldn't really generalise too much about these plants. Evergreen or deciduous, fairly slow growing, generally early flowering shrubs which tend to like moist, acid but free draining soil in dappled shade. Originating from the more northerly areas of the Northern Hemisphere, but with the inevitable exceptions, these are typically lower slope alpine plants. In the UK they are seen at their best in many gardens in Scotland or such as Ness Botanical Gardens on the Wirral and Bodnant in North Wales where the conditions suit rather than in the south and east of the country although they are pretty adaptable as the principle deciduous cultivar strains were developed in the south of England.


Golden Eagle
Popular member of the Knap Hill and/or Exbury Azaleas, I have never quite figured this out as the terms seem to be interchangeable, although I believe the original Knap Hill cultivars were further improved on Rothschild's Exbury estate, both superseding  the mollis types.

Rhododendron luteum (Scotland)
Young plant in my garden near the back door to catch the scent.
 My all time favourite for scent, I remember walking into Crarae Gardens and being knocked over by the scent of a few large specimens near the entrance. Faster growing than many now grows "wild" in several locations. top photo: Scotland





A couple of pictures of a big favourite which I grow at home "Persil" another Knap Hill azalea which bears a very pleasant light scent.

 





The slightly fuzzy pictures (low res.) above were taken in Scotland several years ago and I have absolutely no idea which cultivars they are and in fact more than one of them them may even be small leaved Rhododendrons but they look nice.



Exbury hybrid from seed.
I have two of these and I am quite pleased with the results although patience, as always with seed, is a virtue. Propagated from cold sown seed which is fresh or from cuttings or even layering in some cases.


No idea of the name but rather good.
Japanese azalea 'Manuska'
Unlike the deciduous types shown above 'Manuska' is a Japanese evergreen Azalea, generally low-growing and small leaved, the evergreen Japanese types are more interesting than the deciduous cultivars in that they hold all the year round colour.
D
eciduous Azaleas, even with their colourful but sparse autumn leaves, are best left to larger gardens as they can not be regarded as "key" plants with year round interest and in fact the lack of leaves can deem them fairly ugly for most of the year.

10 comments:

  1. I have R.luteum too and it is rather lovely. Very impressed with your growing azaleas from seed, is it difficult?

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    1. I never use heat to germinate hardy plants and cold sown seed is pretty easy, just patience rd. I used to make the mistake of not potting plants on fast enough but if they are treated properly Azaleas can be in flower about three years from germination.

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  2. I agree about the wonderful scent of luteum.
    Rhododendrons and azalea like my acid soil, but would like a little more early Summer rainfall.
    Would any of those azaleas you show grow on a neutral soil? I remember I used to have some that more or less tolerated the neutral soil in my old garden.

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    1. I don't really have any experience of trying to grow azaleas on neutral or alkaline soils Roger but I would imagine that chlorosis would be a problem without some adjustment, conversely I also remember reading somewhere that a very low ph will slow growth down.

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  3. My brother has, that should read had, a beautiful R. luteum in his garden but his wife decided to take a saw to it last year and has made a complete mess of it! It's roots would be way to big for me to rescue and give it some tlc.
    Nice pictures Rick and very warming on this cold wet night.

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    1. Thanks Angie, my sister despairs of her husband who is the only man I know who has managed to prune a buddleja to death! I think it's a man thing I can be ruthless with a pair of loppers:-)

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  4. Rick, your Azalea pictures are a great reminder to me. I always liked Luteum for the colour and the fragrance. My favourite was Ember Glow not so very unlike your Golden Eagle.

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    1. I can imagine it would stir memories Alistair, Azaleas and Rhododendrons do so well in Scotland.

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  5. Wow, 'Golden Eagle' is really stunning! I also like the orange Exbury one.

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    1. 'Golden Eagle' is quite special Jason, but I do like the unnamed double one which is possibly 'Canon's Double'.

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