This beautiful azalea, Autumn Moonlight is going into it’s autumn blooming stage and it’s amazing. Watching plants like this Encore Azalea that repeat blooms and the Bloomerang repeat blooming lilac, I wonder. As we manipulate and change these plants, is there a consequence? Do we give up hardiness or a sweet beautiful scent for a profusion of flowers? Why do we need so much more, when plants already give us their simple, delightful gifts once a year? But that is our nature, to create. Here is a post I wrote in 2010 about my Encore Azalea.
Plants surprise me. They change me, manipulate me and make me do their bidding. Sometimes I am their slave–plucking, mulching, planting and pruning. Innocently responsible for the continuation of their species. This plant surprised me like a spark in the dark. Encore azaleas are known as repeat bloomers—spring, summer and fall. The first season in my garden (2009) produced a few sparse blooms in the spring, with nothing else all summer and fall. I was discouraged. This year I witnessed, again, a small amount of blooms in the spring. As summer progressed I began to lose hope. There were no buds, there were no blossoms. I spoke poorly of this plant, muttering words I will not repeat, kicking dirt, even glaring in it’s general direction. From July through September this continued. Then, during the October drizzle, this plant surprised me. Suddenly– pop– it was covered in buds. And now, at the end of October, my ‘Autumn Moonlight’ is one of the few plants blooming in my garden. It’s the end of October winner! There are a few faded roses, the geraniums are trying to hold their own, but this azalea is covered in soft white blossoms and my faith is restored.
Here are the requirements for this evergreen autumn magic. Full sun for best blooming (mine only got afternoon sun which caused me to worry) and well-drained slightly acidic soil. These azaleas are cold hardy to zone six and need adequate water during our dry summers. My variety ‘Autumn Moonlight’ has a pure white semi-double bloom and will eventually average 5 feet high and four feet wide. Check out the entire collection of colors, heights and foliage at encoreazalea.com. This plant will bring color and interest to a fading fall garden. I’m a believer now–go get one!
Do you want to find out more about the relationship between people and plants? Read The Botany of Desire–A Plant’s-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan. I really enjoyed this book– it gave me new ideas to weave into my brain. Here is a quote from this book about early Americans planting apple seeds (pg. 42) “Looked at from this angle, planting seeds instead of clones was an extraordinary act of faith in the American land, a vote in favor of the new and unpredictable as against the familiar and European…This happens to be nature’s wager too, hybridization being one of the ways nature brings newness into the world.” Faith and newness, that’s what this bright azalea will bring into your world and your garden. (Written in October 2010)
Update on that plant. The winter of 2010 came really early with a hard November frost. That was too much of a shock for my still young Azalea and it died. I still remember the joy those pure white blossoms brought me in October and will get another one someday. It’s worth it! Update on me. I haven’t been posting often because, besides working a lot, I’ve been spending extra time with my son before he left on his two year mission for our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). He’s going to the country of Colombia and finally left last week, after weeks and weeks of preparation. I’m going to miss him, but he will be sending e-mails and hopefully I’ve talked him into sending pictures of South American plants for me to post!