My dad’s azaleas are in full bloom now. These 2 bushes are some I propagated from his huge azaleas (taller than his house) a few years ago. Each year, in spring, I have him back for about 2 to 3 weeks, while those gorgeous azaleas produce buds that grow huge, then begin to open, and almost overnight, it seems, they are covered with a vibrant explosion of color. When I brought them here, they were purple. The pH of the soil (with my composting) has changed them to a gorgeous hot pink.
I planted them beneath the kitchen window so that, when they grew large enough, I could see them from inside our house. That time has arrived. Of course, I covered the blinds with French lace cafe-style curtains (seen far left), in keeping with the country French-inspired decor. They are normally closed, but are open during “azalea season”. Below is a better look at those pink beauties. On a cool morning, I can sit by that window and admire dad’s azaleas.
In just 2 years, they grew from that (below) to this (above).
These azaleas were moved from dad’s yard to our yard near Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 2010. At that time, they were little more that slender sticks. Each one had only 3 or 4 flowers. They will eventually outgrow this narrow planting bed on the side of our home. I hope that, by then, our yard will have enough shade in other areas that they can be moved to a location that will accommodate their mature size. I am trying to create as much shade as possible, as quickly as I can. Stay tuned, to see where they end up being moved.
Meanwhile, I will have my dad smiling down on the grown-up little girl who he had to force to work in the yard with him. During that time, I was learning so much about gardening, and didn’t even know it. He never would let me mow the grass, though. He said I would mess up his lawn. I think he just knew I couldn’t handle his big mower. When I became interested in gardening, it made him so happy. Over the years, we exchanged plants many times.
P.S. Azaleas love acidic soil. Save your used coffee grounds (or grinds – whichever you prefer to call them) to sprinkle around your azaleas. The pine needle mulch also adds acid to the soil. Both of these amendments will turn pink hydrangeas to purple or even blue, if you use enough.