Is the light beginning to change? Are the days a little shorter? Yes and yes, but it’s still hot, hot, hot. And yes, maybe I’ve been boycotting just a little. I was sneak-attacked by poison ivy, after all, AND it’s steaming hot by 8 a.m. Not my cup of tea, as my grandmother used to say.
But I got out there this past weekend. I needed to reconnect with my garden and show some weeds who’s boss. I yanked some poison oak, btw, and spoke to it rather aggressively as I did so. But I digress.
Azalea time! Have I mentioned that they belong to the genus rhododendron? It was quite a learning journey when I looked up my azaleas R. indicum, “Macrantha Orange”.
First of all, r. indicum suggests that this rhododendron originated in India. But it didn’t. There’s some speculation as to how it got that name, mostly to do with trade routes. All of my excellent sources agree that most of our evergreen hybrids originated in Japan and China. And while sources suggest that R. indicum originated in both countries, most or all of those here in the U.S. originated in Japan, where they’re called Satsuki-tsutsuji. The Japanese, by the way, have their own naming system. For themselves, they don’t use the Latin. Can’t say I blame them, but, well, aaaaagh. ‘Macrantha’ is just another name given by another botanist for this same hybrid, and there have been many other names. If you're further interested in the tongue-twisting, mind-boggling nomenclature of these azaleas, Virginia Tech website has an excellent article written by Harold Greer.
After the hybrid groups and, within those groups, the hundreds and thousands of cultivars, we can consider developers, breeders, nurseries.
Given the vastness of it all, I was rather surprised that I was able to trace the history of the azaleas I brought home. I have three cultivars from Robin Hill, and Encore azaleas, and a Glenn Dale variety, and the orange macranthas.
My macarantha azaleas are happy so far. I hope that they bloom this fall, but that might be expecting too much. But to show you the color, here's a photo from OnlinePlantGuide.com:
Aren’t azaleas pretty in bloom?
In my next few posts, I’ll share a little information about the Robin Hill, Glenn Dale, and Encore azaleas. In the meantime, here's a link to the Satsuki page on the Azalea Society of America website.
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. 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.