Wednesday, September 30, 2009
In the early 1980s, a plant breeder by the name of Robert E. "Buddy" Lee, noticed a tray of azalea cuttings blooming during the summer at his Independence, Louisiana nursery. He started experimenting with crossing traditional spring-blooming azaleas with a rare Taiwanese summer-blooming azalea (Rhododendron oldhamii). The result - an azalea that blooms both in the spring and in the fall.
I only have one Encore azalea in the garden. They are expensive and I've always found azaleas to be rather temperamental despite the fact that they are reputed to be tailor-made for the South. I've not had any problems growing the Encore variety but the blooms have been a tad sparse. I read that these azaleas actually prefer more sun than their cousins so that could be the reason.
But, I do have a confession to make. Call me crazy but I just can't seem to warm up to an azalea that blooms in the fall. In my mind, azaleas are spring flowers and in the fall garden, they look like the red-headed stepchild at the family reunion.
My tastes may be changing thought because I am slowly warming up to my one and only Encore azalea. I was just noticing today how pretty the fuchsia color stood out in the landscape. I suppose breaking traditions can be a good thing.