Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Encore azaleas



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.

17 comments:

  1. Such a beautiful photo Phillip and the flower... I could love that anytime of the year! Carol

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  2. I have several Encore Amethysts and maybe since they are magenta they fit into the fall color scheme well. lol Mine get sun from sunrise til 1 pm and then again in very late afternoon and bloom heavily if they get enough food. They're heavy feeders. I've always liked Amethyst the best and was surprised not to see it nearly as much as the others -- maybe that is just a local phenomenon -- because it's at the top for cold-hardiness among the Encores and is a rather unique color.

    Which one do you have? It's beautiful. Thank you too for the history behind the Encores -- I did not know about their lineage.

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  3. I'm with you (at least until you changed your mind). I am big on seasonal. I like to look out in the garden and tell what time of year it is by the plants that are flowering. I also like to eat seasonally, i prefer to enjoy strawberries in June when they are so sweeet, instead of imported ones in January, that taste of cardboard to me.
    Proven Winners has released the Boomerang Lilac, it blooms spring and fall. I wish it just bloomed in the spring!

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  4. Hi Phillip, I am always surprised that Nashville nurseries carry so many azaleas. Azaleas are not tailor made for a nearly neutral heavy clay soil. Gardeners have to work hard to produce the right conditions~acid soil and sharp drainage. Too bad they are so good looking. They are like a carrot dangled in front of our noses...Love your photo! gail

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  5. I sometimes have to have something for awhile before I finally give in and fall in love with it. You know you like it or you wouldn't purchase it but there is some characteristic that just doesn't seem quite right. Then all of a sudden...two years later, you wonder what was I thinking this is grand.

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  6. I have several of these, all a sort of coral-pink. They perform well in spring & fall, tho the two that get more sun have more blossoms. I love them.

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  7. If I could grow them up here, I'd love 'em spring, summer or fall. Those are a lovely color.
    Marnie

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  8. Congratulations on your Blotanical win...best Alabama blog! I am going to come see it in person oneday! I know the weather up there must be wonderful right now! It is pretty cool here as well....to bad it won't stay this way :-(

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  9. I am like you, Phillip, azaleas are "supposed" to bloom in the spring. I do, however, like the Encores that have the orange or fall-colored flowers. Those are okay. Buddy Lee is only about 25 miles from my house, and I have met him. He is so down to earth and self-effacing; you'd never think he has changed the way azaleas bloom.

    Jan
    Always Growing

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  10. Just wait 15 years...plant geneticists will have everything blooming all year round. Azaleas will be blooming in January. I think anticipation is half the fun.

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  11. I do like the colour and 'fuchsia' describes it well.

    I can't grow azaleas where I am as the soil is a little too sweet (limey) for them.

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  12. Congrats Phillip on Best AL blog. You deserve it. As to the Encore Azaleas, I echo your feelings. I've done the other, regular azaleas, and they were too much trouble for my alkaline soil. The fall blooming ones don't seem right either.~~Dee

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  13. I share your aversion to fall blooming Azaleas, even though I sell them at the nursery. Having met Buddy Lee last year, I can assure you his enthusiasm will make you forget any hesitation about Encores. I like to see the orange and coral selection in the fall, they seem to blend better with the other colors of the season.

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  14. I love azaleas. I remember seeing hundreds of them along the roadside and forests when I was visiting New York and Jersey City (outside of the cities). I've never had any but I hope to eventually get some and these encores sound wonderful.

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  15. Hi Phillip, may I add to the congrats for the photo contest as well as the Best in Alabama awards? I was sure I left a comment about both of those deserved wins, but don't see 'em so must have dreamed it. Your statements about the Encore have piqued my interest, they are widely sold here, but seemed too pricey when most azaleas are dirt, excuse the phrase, cheap. The colors, any of them would be a nice addition to the peachy pink sheffie mums. Thanks for the inspiration. :-)
    Frances

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  16. See, I'm a fan of fuschia flowers any time of the year. :-) I've been hot and cold on the encores- a couple of the varieties made it through a rough transplant and have survived- no flourished- beautifully. Other varieties, I've babied during droughts, etc. but lost them for one reason or another. Looks like you got a winner!

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  17. hi philip i hope u can help me and teach me the best way to gardening... its hard for me to gardening i don't know what kind of flower i can plant... hope you can help me guys.. looking forward for your responce...

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