An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

April 25, 2010

Azalea Trio

There are many parts of the country that are cloaked with Azaleas right now, and Hampton Roads in no exception. We are fortunate here to be warm enough to grow my favorite group, the Southern Indica Hybrids. These are large growing plants, often reaching 5-6', or higher further south. They also have large, showy, single flowers and large leaves. Their blowsy growth habit prevents them from responding well to severe pruning (not that some people don't try) which can be the fate of so many other Azaleas. I especially like to see when a trio of the fuschia 'Formosa', the white 'Mrs. G. G. Gerbing' and bi-color 'George Taber' are planted together.

Rhododendron x 'Formosa'

Azalea 'Formosa'

Azalea ODU (2)

Rhododendron x 'Mrs G. G. Gerbing'

Azalea 'Mrs. G. G. Gerbing'

Azalea 'Mrs. G. G. Gerbing' (2)

Rhododendron x 'George Taber'

Azalea 'George Taber' (3)

Azalea 'George Taber'

Azalea NY Ave. (2)

Azalea NY Ave.


  1. Beautiful photos! Even when we are "choked" with them in Atlanta, as you say, there is something beautiful about many of them. I especially like the whites you've shown here.

  2. Les,
    These are my favorites also. They make a great combonation. In Durham I'm working next door to a hedge of azaleas that would blow you away. I asked for here secret, she said the hillside is planted with hundreds of azaleas that she got cheap and when the hot days of summer arrive never let them wilt, keep them watered for the best blooms in the spring.

  3. I think you just answered a question for me -- I think Formosa is the azalea that is planted all over in my county. I love the color.

  4. There are some lovely varieties out there. Each and every bloom is a work of art. I really enjoy this time of year in our area.

  5. The Indicas are my favorites, too. You have captured them beautifully. I must look into adding that white one to my garden.

  6. these are some of my favorites, too - planted a dozen or so george tabers and mrs. gerbings a couple of years ago. you didn't mention scent, but that is very nice as well, especially the white one.

  7. I love the exuberant row of Azaleas by the front walkway. The three colours look great together, and make a wall of flowers. Unfortunately, they are not hardy here, but a few types are borderline-hardy. I've debated about trying one of those ones, but I don't think I'd end up with the wonderful display like yours.

  8. My first spring in Charleston I was overwhelmed by the azaleas - but as more springs came and went, I realized that I was overwhelmed by the mass of a single color (the white ones were popular - and the fuschia). Near a friend's home in Mt Pleasant, however, there was a home garden that went against the grain, and planted all different colors of azaleas, all mixed together, and it was gorgeous. I used to admire them each spring, as I slowly added more color to my own azaleas. My personal favorite now is the red formosa - it tones down the fuschia - and the older, smaller-flowering varieties. I feel like I'm often the only one at the nursery, looking for the smaller flower varieties in coral and rose-pink.

  9. I must say these are certainly an improvement over the (dare I say) prissy little Azalea's that we see out here in the Pacific NW...

  10. That's quite a hedge in the last image! You're blessed to be surrounded with such beautiful color, and your photographs really do them justice.

  11. Beautiful combos! They're just going out here and I miss them already. Time here to start pruning and grooming and getting ready for next year's show.

  12. Tim,
    I said "cloaked" not "choked", but that works just as well.

    I concur with the summer watering.

    Sweet Bay,
    We are thick with them here as well.

    I found my first spring in Tidewater wonderfully distracting, even though I knew little about what I was seeing.

    Fortunately my house already had these three when we moved in.

    I never thought they had much scent, but I will be out there tomorrow with my nose in them.

    Northern Shade,
    I can't claim the display, they belong to a family down the street. Some of the macros are mine though. Go with what will grow for you.

    The S. Indicas in Charleston are amazing. I love Red Formosa, but it is very hard to come by.

    We have our share of prissy azaleas here as well.

    I do agree!

    Thanks for your comment. I have admired that hedge for years. The plants are actually atop a stone wall and cascade down.

    We likely have another week or so, depending on the temps, but they have definately peaked.


  13. ~Beautiful azaleas are one of the treats in visiting the 'deeper' south~I have really fond memories of Georgia and even Florida being covered in gorgeous blooms...We can't grow them in Nashville and it's not the temperature...The soil is just not right! Beautiful photos, Les! gail

  14. Ours here in MI are just starting to get leaves. Gives me something to look forward to but I dare say they won't give us near the show yours do. Our lilacs are just about ready to open- maybe another week.

  15. I always think azaleas look like confectionery just waited to be eaten. I think it's the candy colors. They do grow here, but we must really amend the soil, and the late freezes often get the blooms. However, in the years they don't, divine.~~Dee

  16. Really nice photos. Your pictures get better all the time. The azalea's should feel honored to be in your portrait studio...

  17. Great photos Les! The azaleas are amazing this spring here in Hampton Roads. We went to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens on the 18th and weren’t disappointed. There was color around every corner. I'm going to post the photos soon.

  18. They are wonderful choices, Les. We can't garden without the palate cleanser of Mrs. G. G., she brings all of those crazy deciduous azalea colors into a smooth flowing whole. Sometimes difficult to find over the much more popular Delaware Valley White, she is the white for me. :-)

  19. What a treat! Aren't they just glorious!

  20. I love this time of the year when the Azaleas are blooming. Like you I wish we had gotten more rain. It was such a tease for the plants. :)

  21. Gail,
    I wonder what's up with your soil and growing Azaleas, too much limestone?

    Enjoy your Lilacs, they are a lot of trouble here and do not reward us with the show they provide up north.

    They adorn nearly every house here, like some sort of party dress.

    Thanks! Most of my improvement coms from knowing what not to show.

    The Norfolk Botancial Garden is a color riot right now, especially with all the older varieties they have growing.

    I agree about needing to have Mrs. G.G. around, plus she has the good manners to drop her petals before they become "soiled". Delaware Valley hangs on to its blossoms long after they have turned brown.

    Yes they are a treat, I know in Charleston people can get lost if too many of these are planted.

    Looks like we got another few drops last night, maybe enough to last for a few days.


  22. thanks for your comments... really love your blog!
    big "plant geek" myself. look forward to future postings of yours.

  23. We don't have many but I do love them. I've even grown fond of the Encores and I never thought I would say that.

  24. Yes, even our azaleas are out now. Yours are gorgeous! I love that rich hue in the first image.

  25. Those are gorgeous! I love azaleas.

  26. Beautiful azaleas, they always make me think of the gardens in the novel "Rebecca".

  27. it's always such a joy to visit your site! it reminds me of what's important! thanks, Les! Lynn in Charleston