Thursday, October 9, 2008 – Encore Azaleas ® – Are they worth a standing ovation?

As I work in my client’s garden yesterday, I find myself wondering about the Encore  Azalea ®.  I’m curious as to why we need them.   They look kind of nice, yet somehow out of place.  Perhaps it’s the variety of my wondering – Autumn Ruby , a color for the spring, not fall.  I just couldn’t get excited about it.

Azaleas are a long held tradition in our spring southern gardens.  My personal favorites are the indicas, the bigger varieties boasting big, busty blossoms.  When they flower, the plant is covered.  Along with the dogwoods, azaleas are the breath of spring.  Do we really need them blooming in the fall as well?

It’s more than that.  Have you noticed that Encore Azaleas ® don’t put on as good a show in the spring?  Do we really need to compromise our spring hello with a lesser performing encore?  With the lantana, asters, sunflowers, cannas, ruellia, verbena, sasanquas, roses and more blooming, do we need to mess with tradition to have a few blooms on a shrub meant for spring?

I see their place in design.  One design option that comes to mine is when not used en masse.  In the case of an Encore Azalea ®, I think one can be used comfortable.  Since the high impact of masses of blooms does not accur with these azaleas, there’s really no point to plant them en masse…the effect would be lost.  Adding one to the garden as a specimen is doable.  A lone indica would look lost – maybe not lost – as much as a lost opportunity.

I would rather pack my performance in the spring when I eager to embrace it. There’s something magically about spring.  A new beginning.  I want all the power a flower can pack at once and not comprimising with split shift flowering.

Autumn Ruby

Autumn Ruby


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