six on Saturday, 15 April 2023

1. Today’s six are all native azaleas. I am fortunate to have several Alabama natives that are truly native to my place at Highland Lake in Blount County, Alabama. These I did not plant; they have appeared on their own in wooded areas. In several cases, my contribution to their growth has been clearing area around them, such as the one pictured on the left below. I opened a small space among deerberry, oakleaf hydrangea , and mapleleaf viburnum around this bush when it was barely identifiable as an azalea. It is blooming now for the first time, so I don’t know what it will be–but it is native and it is an azalea!

2. I’m unsure about the identification of another azalea that is growing tall and well near the shoreline. Actually, there are two shrubs growing side-by-side. The featured image provides a good image of the flowers, although most of the clusters are yet to open. Seek, that excellent identification app from iNaturalist, determined it is Pinxter Flower, or Rhododendron periclymenoides. Also known as Pink Azalea, it appears almost identical to Piedmont, or Mountain Azalea (Rhododendron canescens). Visually, I cannot tell the difference. Maybe when this bush is more fully in bloom, its identification will be more assured.

3. Now, below is a Piedmont Azalea I am sure of. It came up as a bit of a stick several years ago. It is about four and a half feet tall now, although not very full. Nonetheless, I have to give it give it credit for growing as it did on its own on the fringe of the driveway. The Piedmont Azalea is one of the most widely distributed native azaleas in the Southeast.

4. Becoming less common than the Piedmont–even in Alabama–the Alabama Azalea is one of the most locally prized. It is also one of the most fragrant. I feared that the one I prize had died during this winter’s two unexpectedly bitter cold periods. Thankfully, it did not, although it does seem a little less vigorous this spring. There are several very small runners nearby, though; maybe these were sent out as a type of survival technique. Nonetheless, identification of Rhododendron alabamense with its lovely white petals, one with a lemon yellow splotch, is unmistakable.

5. Rhododendron My Mary is a native recently purchased at a conference. I don’t even have it in the ground yet, but it has proven wonderfully fragrant and eye-catching.

6. Because the flowers of these azaleas are relatively short-lived, it is fortunate that they bloom at different times, some early like the Piedmont Azalea, some later like Rhododendron canescens ‘Camilla’s Blush’ pictured below. This particular variety is also more dense. Unlike their evergreen Japanese azalea cousins, all of these natives are deciduous rhododendrons. Actually, there are at least 17 species of deciduous azaleas native to the Southeast. Consequently, there are plenty options out there for me to consider when purchasing more of these fragrant, spring-blooming beauties.

There are more Saturday gardens out there for readers to enjoy, as well. All one has to do is visit the site of our Six on Saturday leader Jim Stephens, Garden Ruminations, read his always informative post, and follow links in the comments.

9 Replies to “six on Saturday, 15 April 2023”

    1. They are deciduous. Folks even here go for the evergreen non-native azaleas–some of which even bloom twice, such as the Southern Living Encore Azaleas.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Deciduous plants are even less popular in California, especially among those from cooler climates. (Not many in California are natives.) Rhododendron and azalea collectors are an odd bunch though.


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