six on Saturday, 11 April 2020

My offerings for today are the good, the bad, and the beautiful–with a quandary thrown in.  I’m going to start with the beautiful–the distinctive woodland native azalea in the featured photo above.  (Email readers, remember to click on the name of the post in your message to see the featured photo.)

1. I’ve been waiting for the Alabama azalea, Rhododendron alabamense, to bloom for a few weeks now.  It has one of the softest, cleanest, floral fragrances of any of the spring bloomers I know.  Sometimes, that fragrance has a slight lemony tinge.  It’s identifiable by the yellow blotch on a single petal and often has a touch of pink on other petals as can easily been seen in the featured photo.

2. Next to this azalea, a young, actually a rather lanky,  Rhododendron canescens is growing.  To the center right of the first photo below, low to the ground an even younger plant can be seen.   Last week I noted a bloom of this shrub from another area of the garden and referred to it as a Piedmont azalea.  This is the common name I am familiar with, but because the azalea below has a slightly smaller and paler pink flower I checked it with iNaturalist’s “Seek” app.  Sure enough, it was identified as Rhododendron canescens, although given the common name of mountain azalea.  Whatever they are called, however, it is unfortunate that the lovely inflorescences of these natives do not last as long as those on commercial azalea varieties.

3. For the good, I have an update on those discount Knockout Roses I’ve been talking about in previous posts.  I’m delighted to report that they are doing well.

4. The fourth item is also a good, but one that I can’t fully identify.  I saved these yellow irises from the trash years, decades even, ago from a hillside at Birmingham-Southern College when some major construction was underway.  I can’t be anymore specific about them other to say “iris.”  If anyone recognizes them, I would greatly appreciate a comment below.  Stalks usually produce three flowers, although the first one pictured below sports four.

5.  The damage caused by carpenter bees is fifth and represents the bad.  The first photo captures a carpenter bee on columbine, or Aquilegia.  I like that.  The second shows the damage done by these wood burrowing, “brood tunnel” making bees.  I don’t like that.  I’ve been able to control them in the past by filling the initial round holes with wood putty.  (Corks were useless; they buzzed through them in no time.)  This year vertical tunnels broke through the wood supports of a small pergola outside the door to the cottage.  I filled the openings and tunnels with fine steel wool last week and hung out a plastic bag “wasps’ nest,” which I was assured will be a great carpenter bee deterrent.  We’ll see.

6.  Finally the quandary.  Last year I got four tiny anise shrubs (Illicium parviflorum) as a members’ gift from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  They did well over the winter and are beginning to show healthy spring growth.  The issue, of course is where do I plant them?  We’ll see about that, too.

Illicium parviflorum

Remember, there are more “Six on Saturday” gardens to be visited by following  The Propagator’s site.

In the midst of a troubled world, in closing I wish everyone health and tranquility this weekend.


3 Replies to “six on Saturday, 11 April 2020”

  1. Thank you Susan for a glimpse of joy this morning! I hope the time is soon coming when we can mingle again. Until that day, please be safe.


  2. There are SO many species and varieties of Rhododendrons that are native to North America. We grew only a few, and most were cultivars. They are not at all easy to grow in nursery production, but there was a bit of demand for them. We grew the Western azalea that is native nearby. Flowers were nice, but it was otherwise not very appealing. I liked it because it is native. Apparently others did too. There was a stock specimen of Rhododendron canescens in the arboretum, but we never produced any.


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