The weather is oh-so-hot. Last week, we hit triple digits. With our humidity, that’s saying something. In our garden, some plants are a little stressed, but most are taking it far better than I am.
We’re having problems with a few of our azaleas. Those planted around the most oak roots seem to be struggling despite water and shade. Whether or not they survive, we’re thinking to build some low boxes, fill them with a good garden mix, and probably sow or plant a nice variety of annuals with shallow roots.
But most of the little azalea plants still seem happy. Besides r. indicum and the Encore azaleas, we have three Robin Hill varieties and they are mostly fine. We also have several of one Glenn Dale hybrid named Fashion. If azaleas could glow, these babies are glowing. And to think, I bought them by accident, thinking they were the orange macranthas (I’d clearly been out in the sun too long by that point).
Glenn Dale is an interesting story. In the 1930s, Benjamin Y. Morrison, Director of the National Arboretum, began a hybridizing program. His goal was to develop cold hardy azaleas, especially for the Washington D.C. area, with large flowers and an extended blooming season. He went on to name and register 454 cultivars. 454!
The name “Glenn Dale” came from the USDA Plant Introduction Station at Glenn Dale, Maryland, founded in 1920. As the last century advanced, the station fell into a state of neglect. Thanks to the Azalea Society of America, the Glenn Dale Preservation Program officially began in 1982. Glenn Dale and the Azalea Test Area have been restored with much success.
At the National Arboretum, there is a walled azalea garden named Morrison Garden, after Benjamin Morrison. There is also Glenn Dale Hillside, which is said to be spectacular in spring.
There’s so much more about Glenn Dale and the azaleas. Below are some links that you might want to check out.
I’ve been watching out for all of my baby azaleas, but I’ve been especially keeping an eye on the Encores I brought home. They were bigger than the rest and we planted them in boxes, not amidst the oak roots. I’m watching for blooms.
Encores were invented by Robert “Buddy” Lee of Independence, Louisiana. Like so many southern states, Louisiana’s azaleas have bloomed gloriously every spring for decades. But now, with Encore, there can be azaleas blooms Spring, Summer, and Fall.
Mr. Lee, former president of the Azalea Society of America, is still an active horticulturist. He’s Director of Plant Innovations at Plant Development Services, Inc. in Louisiana. He’s recipient of the Lousiana Nursery and Landscape Association’s Professional Achievement Award and the Azalea Society of America’s Distinguished Service Award.
To date, there are 31 varieties of Encore azaleas, all patented by Mr. Lee and all with names beginning with “Autumn”. That hot day, amidst the hundreds of azaleas at that nursery, I found two Autumn Lilies, which are white, and one Autumn Sunset, which is red. I’m waiting, fingers crossed, for the fall show of blooms.
I plot and I plan. I work under dangerous conditions. I am frequently under assault. At times, I might drop everything and run for cover. I strive to work towards the greater good.
Gardening in southeast Texas can be brutal. Heat, humidity, and potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes are problems for more than half the year and a dangerous combination in summer. That’s to say nothing of fire ants and other biting, stinging insects. Snakes, too, although they only make a rare appearance in my little garden. Poison ivy and oak are common and birds sow both generously.
Despite some uncomfortable conditions, I feel very protective of the wild in my garden. It’s important to know friend from foe, for example, venomous from nonvenomous snakes and even then, it’s often not necessary to engage. As for the bugs, it is not fine with us to hurt the good with the bad. Pesticides are banned. So are herbicides. Our beds, whether food or ornamental, are organic. And while our garden isn’t entirely native, we do have plenty of native plants that please the local wildlife as well as ourselves.
While every garden is different, they all offer challenges, pleasures, time with nature. Much like people, they have their good days and bad days, high seasons and low; and they can all be fun and beautiful if you love them enough.